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North Capitol Commons Opens, “includes 60 units of permanent supportive housing for veterans experiencing homelessness”

by Prince Of Petworth January 12, 2017 at 3:30 pm 39 Comments

vet-housing
1005 North Capitol St, NE. Photo by Tony T Goodman

From a press release:

“Today, Mayor Bowser joined U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro, U.S. Secretary of Veteran Affairs Bob McDonald, and a host of public and private sector partners highlighted the District’s progress in ending veteran’s homelessness and the opening of the John and Jill Ker Conway Residence at North Capitol Commons. With support from local and federal partners, this housing program will help to advance the goal of ending homelessness among veterans in the District.

Named after the late World War II veteran and his wife, the John and Jill Ker Conway Residence includes 60 units of permanent supportive housing for veterans experiencing homelessness and 64 units for District residents who meet the income requirements for affordability. The building has 12 floors and 124 efficiencies – 60 of which are fully furnished – and residents will receive assistance with health needs through case managers.

“There is no greater debt we owe than taking care of veterans after they serve our country. We can only meet that obligation when the local and federal government work together,” said Mayor Bowser. “I am proud of the progress my Administration has made in ending veterans homelessness, and I pledge to continue this fight until every veteran has the housing and services they deserve.”

The program was financed through a mix of public and private sources, including low-income housing tax credits, tax-exempt bonds, and federal HOME funds through DC Department of Housing and Community Development. The District also received support from local and national stakeholder organizations to accelerate efforts to provide housing for veterans. As of today, nearly 1,800 veterans have been housed, with 764 housed in 2015, and 463 placed in permanent housing in 2016.

“We know that the Housing First approach provides immediate safe and permanent housing to stabilize those who are experiencing homelessness while offering the supportive services people may need after they have been stably housed. I worked on this project at its inception, and I’m so excited that it will be the first of many like it to provide safe, affordable housing for our veterans and other vulnerable residents,” said Laura Zeilinger, Director of Department of Human Services.

District landlords with available, affordable housing are encouraged to partner with the District to help sustain the work that has been accomplished thus far for veterans. For more information, please contact [email protected]

  • Tom

    Love it! As for the photo caption, I think it’s on the NE side of North Cap.

  • JohnH

    I 100% understand the cause and need – of both supporting homeless veterans and providing more affordable housing in this city. One thing I do not get (and it’s not specific to this development) is why low-income housing needs floor-to-ceiling windows? The apartment add-on to Lincoln Westmoreland at 7th and R is just that – why build “luxury” style apartments for low-income housing? Not that it needs to be a dump or look like a prison like those apartments next to LW – but I can’t imagine it provides much motivation to rise above low-income housing if I got to live in a brand new apartment with corner floor-to-ceiling windows that you can see the mall from.
    .
    At least this project provides assistance to find permanent housing, kudos.
    .

    • Craig

      Actually, you can’t see the Mall from the windows on this building–they face west. There are also windows on the east side of the building. There are none on the south.

      That being said, just because the windows look nice doesn’t mean the apartment is anything special. The dark side area next to the windows hides air conditioning units. The building as far as I could see in construction has no central air.

      But beyond all this, why the Puritanical insistence that the poor should have to suffer?

      • JohnH

        I was referring to “LW” = Lincoln Westmoreland. And I was pretty darn clear that they should not be in a bad situation in my post.
        .
        I am PRETTY sure there’s something between “suffering” and floor-to-ceiling windows.

        • rjmarvel

          I’m an architect and used to work at Sorg :(. There isn’t “central air” per say. The units are all small efficiency apartments and are cooled with a hotel style PTAC unit hidden behind those black lovers adjacent to the storefront system. Storefront is also cheaper by the way than say floor to ceiling curtain wall. The glass at the corner units was limited to one side, with a completely blank façade along the other restricting some great views to the capitol. You can also look at the rear (east) elevation to CLEARLY see where money was saved. That elevation is tragically sad and maybe what you thought the whole project should look like. I think this is the in-between “suffering” and “floor-to-ceiling” windows; the marketing of which as a luxury is highly dubious. Compromises were made. What should “poor people architecture” look like? Go write the white paper. Should it enhance the streetscape and community or should simply announcing “poor people live here” be the only goal? Look at what some of those “urban renewal/poor people architecture projects did to our communities. I’m so over yall.

          • katemc

            Don’t give up on everyone! Your commentary was really interesting. I loved running by here and watching it go up. It’s a better looking building than a lot of “luxury” apartments, and it clearly was designed with a purpose. If it was a concrete block with no windows, people would complain that it was ruining the neighborhood. The most important thing is that it’s going to help so many people and give them a place to live with safety and respect.

      • PJL

        Incorrect. I live in the neighborhood and there are absolutely units facing south. This picture is looking at the building side that faces west, but you can clearly see up in the top right that there are indeed units that face south towards the capitol.

        I have no issue with that and agree there’s nothing wrong with that for a low-income building. But, what makes you think there isn’t central air? There most definitely is: http://www.kerconwayapts.com/amenities.aspx

    • eva

      You’re complaining that the housing we give to veterans who were until now homeless is too nice???

      • Anon

        Yea, f*ck this guy….

      • Truxton Thomas

        +1

      • JohnH

        Lincoln Westmoreland is not for veterans. Pretty sure there have been numerous threads on this website about how bad the people that live in that development are. I’m talking about – and I mentioned it in my original post – that I am talking about all low-income housing. Floor-to-ceiling windows are not cheap and they aren’t great when it comes to heating/cooling costs – when there’s a severe lack of low-income housing in the city, I’d rather more be available than have an extreme lack of 9 foot floor-to-ceiling window apartments in this city.
        .
        I also said that I do not get it. From my experience, I think you could build more moderately priced buildings that look nice and be able to provide more of that at a lower cost to both the city and the resident (i.e. heating/cooling costs). And no, that doesn’t mean they are a dump.

        • rjmarvel

          I’m an architect and used to work at Sorg :(. There isn’t “central air” per say. The units are all small efficiency apartments and are cooled with a hotel style PTAC unit hidden behind those black lovers adjacent to the storefront system. Storefront glass is also cheaper by the way than say floor to ceiling curtain wall glass. The glass at the corner units was limited to one side, with a completely blank façade along the other restricting some great views to the capitol. You can also look at the rear (east) elevation to CLEARLY see where money was saved. That elevation is tragically sad and maybe what you thought the whole project should look like. I think this is the in-between “suffering” and “floor-to-ceiling” windows; the marketing of which as a luxury is highly dubious. Improvements in glass can sometimes means the glass has better thermal performance that the adjacent wall system. Compromises were made–they hit the budget the developer wanted. What should “poor people architecture” look like? Go write the white paper. Should it enhance the streetscape and community or should simply announcing “poor people live here” be the only goal? Look at what some of those “urban renewal/poor people architecture projects did to our communities. I’m so over yall.

          • Anonamom

            +1 – thank you for your explanation. The type of architecture that JohnH once has already been tried – just look at the council estates built in the UK to replace the old, run down housing. That is, if you can find any examples left since they have all pretty much been torn down as they recognize that the social experiment failed.

      • ParkViewneighbor

        I think he is saying that for the price of the floor to ceiling windows, they could have built 2 more units or installed other amenities. Kind of value for money stuff

        • Truxtoner

          Because the floor to ceiling windows are nice, probably not more expensive to build, and at least let those of us who don’t live in the building not complain about how it’s a boring box?

      • Nancy

        I’m going to complain about the design. From the side I look at every day it’s a giant grey box. The sucker is ugly as all get out. Aside from that I’m fine with the concept. We should have more. There’s nothing but parking lots across the street from it – build 2-3 more. We’ve got the vets & homeless who need it, that’s for sure. Just make it less ugly.

        • Anon

          +10000

    • navyard

      I live in a community with mixed income housing and was told that when the city inspected the first phase, they told the developer “these units are too nice for (the poors)”. For the next phase, it actually cost the developer more money to get lower-quality fixtures and floors because of the quantities involved and changing some of the standard flooring options.

      • JohnH

        I mean that makes perfect sense that the going back and trying to fix stuff you’ve already ordered is not logical.

    • ChapinSt

      You’re absolutely right. Poor people should live in windowless boxes until they realize that it really sucks being poor and go out and finally get that 6-figure job that’s been waiting for them.

      • JohnH

        You must have missed it in my post that you responded to that low-income housing should NOT be that as I specifically referred to a development that was low-income housing for decades that is next to Lincoln Westmoreland that looks like a prison and I specifically said it should NOT be that. Way to be dramatic though!

        • ChapinSt

          But just not toooo nice, right?

          • JohnH

            How is this complicated – the less money you spend on something the MORE you can provide. While you go around personally insulting me without knowing me, I’m actually concerned that we don’t provide ENOUGH of what you so vehemently care about. But I’m the evil rich person going to brunch. Ok.

        • ParkViewneighbor

          Let it go, buddy. Chapin is trolling

    • ChapinSt

      Or actually, maybe the windows are for you and all of your bootstrap friends, so that you can watch poor people and tsk tsk on all of their poor life choices, while on your way to brunch..

      • IsUrbanismStillOkay?

        Whether the people inside are poor or rich, when I walk down the street I want buildings that are attractive. An ugly building would not only punish the poor (justified or not) but also punish everyone else in the area.

    • Low Income Typical American

      For this particular building these are veterans who were homeless and are probably on a fixed income. Not sure how being disabled you can rise up from being low income without being able to work. This actually could provide some motivation to have a better quality of life in their home and oh get some good sunlight. A typical person spends the majority of their time at home outside of work. Why can’t they have floor to ceilingwindows…why are you mad? Do you know how much an entry military person makes?

    • alurin

      “I can’t imagine it provides much motivation to rise above low-income housing if I got to live in a brand new apartment with corner floor-to-ceiling windows that you can see the mall from.”

      So what you’re saying is, people are homeless because they lack motivation.

    • RJ

      I’m an architect and used to work at Sorg . There isn’t “central air” per say. The units are all small efficiency apartments and are cooled with a hotel style PTAC unit hidden behind those black lovers adjacent to the storefront system. Storefront is also cheaper by the way than say floor to ceiling curtain wall. The glass at the corner units was limited to one side, with a completely blank façade along the other restricting some great views to the capitol. You can also look at the rear (east) elevation to clearly see where money was saved. I think this is the in-between “suffering” and “floor-to-ceiling” windows; the marketing of which as a luxury is highly dubious. Compromises were made. What should “poor people architecture” look like? Go write the white paper. Should it enhance the streetscape and community or should simply announcing “poor people live here” be the only goal? Look at what some of those “urban renewal/poor people architecture projects did to our communities. I’m so over yall.

      • Anonymous

        hahaha
        “a hotel style PTAC unit hidden behind those black lovers adjacent to the storefront system”

        Louvers? Unless that’s what you meant to say…

    • ml914

      I also question the floor-to-ceiling windows. Not because large windows are luxurious, but because they are impractical for residences. Unless residents can afford or are given a high-quality shade system, floor to ceiling windows are highly undesirable. I’ve worked extensively designing affordable housing, and I’ve never seen floor-to-ceiling windows successfully used in affordable housing. Too often, very cheap blinds are installed that break quickly and barely keep the light out during that day–a nuisance for residents who sleep during the day because they work night shifts. The large openings are also not designed to a human scale and make residences feel unsafe and exposed.

    • Reality

      You think that by making a place ugly it motivates people to not be poor anymore? The hell? Because all affordable housing now is so nice it really lights the fire for people to wake up and say, “wow, maybe I was wrong for being poor. I’ll do something else now”

  • Fritzadelphia

    I think the architecture is beautiful. I wish DC had more interesting buildings like this. Also, I do not understand the anger over it being too nice. Many of the people it is aimed at helping did lay down their lives in service of the country. If someone can show — with actual data — that the cost of construction actually diverted resources from other projects that could help more people, then maybe I would reconsider, but I do not see that. I just see the typical comments that sadly afflict all blogs and news publications: hate, anger, resentment, vitriol, attack, complaint, occasional nice comment, and then immediately back to the dregs.

    • Nancy

      It helps if you don’t have to stare at the tall gray and white blocks. It may look better from front or other side, but sadly, I got stuck with the ugly dead slab side. My issue has nothing to do with vets or not vets, poor or not poor. It’s with an ugly slab of gray and white that could have been designed to be more decorative or visually interesting.

      • PJL

        So true. The east side of the building is horrendous, particularly in comparison to the other sides of it.

  • Anonamom

    Sigh. The mentality that the poor should act poor, be made to feel lesser, not as important, or less worthy of whatever (architecture? really?) is nothing knew. Do you prefer we create ‘zones’ for them instead of mixed use dwellings? Because this has been done before. Ghettos. What’s next, do we need to get a little symbol for people to wear so they are easily identified as poor so we aren’t too friendly too them too? I mean, let’s give them some incentive to pull themselves up by the boot straps and treat them like the pieces of crap they are until they meet our standards, ammiright? I mean, we’ve already established that a significant portion of the PoPulace thinks there should be some sort of financial thresh hold for having a child. This is the natural next step, right?
    See you in the camps, commrades.

    • Anonymous

      Hey, maybe we can make them all wear boot straps! Sans-culottes anyone? History is a b$%@

  • Al

    Viceland has a segment about this on balls deep… this is a very good thing!!!

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