New Affordable Housing Adds to Anacostia Revitalization
Update: Property managers and developers decide on hiring and project plans for Bowen Flats. DCHFA acts solely as a source of funding.
A new three-story, 41-unit housing development set for construction in Ward 8 is designed to bring more quality, affordable housing to the historical Anacostia community. At the end of 2015, the DC Housing Finance Agency (DCHFA) closed a deal to help fund $6.6 million in tax-exempt bonds for the $13.5 million project headed by developer Neighborhood Development Company (NDC).
Builders broke ground on the previously empty lot in January. The new 48,000-square-foot Bowen Flats on the 2620 Bowen Road, SE will offer Anacostia residents 36 one-bedroom, three two-bedroom and two three-bedroom apartments ranging from 600 to 1,000 square feet. It will also include 20 parking spaces free to residents, a garden, bicycle racks, community room, management office and in-unit washers and dryers. And it sits less than a mile from the Anacostia Metro station.
The units will be rented to families or individuals earning up to 60 percent of the area’s median income — rent will sit at 55 percent of the median for 32 units and 45 percent for nine units.
“Introducing our first project in the historic Anacostia neighborhood, a neighborhood where I grew up, adds an extra level of excitement,” said Adrian Washington, founder of NDC. NDC previously developed the mixed-income housing projects at 3232 and 4100 Georgia Ave., NW.
Anthony Waddell, director of public finance for DCHFA, said they encourage developers to employ about 35 percent locally-sourced workers for the project to support the local economy. DCHFA doesnt' participate in hiring or the project beyond funding.
NDC announced that Hamel Builders, Inc., a DC-based construction company, will be the general contractors for project.
The exact percentage of the overall number of locally sourced workers for Bowen Flats won't solidify until the developers finish hiring.
He said once Bowen Flats opens its doors, it will offer more than a living space for tenants. The property managers after development plan to start job readiness training, GED prep help, a computer room and tutoring in the multipurpose room for anyone who wants it.
Maria K. Day-Marshall, interim executive director of DCHFA, said she and the agency follow a mission to build safe, affordable and quality housing for all DC residents.
“Historically Ward 8 has been a hub for affordable housing,” Day-Marshall said.
She said the agency supports the efforts to return the availability of economical housing to that community. DCHFA currently runs eight projects in southeast DC. In the last six months, their housing projects added 222 new units.
Ward 8 Councilmember LaRuby May said she supports additional multi-family units for the Anacostia community. But she wants the developments to focus on also providing quality living spaces.
“Anytime that we can bring affordable housing on board, I’m a big advocate of that,” May said. “We know there is a shortage.”
Mixed income housing helps incentivize businesses to invest in local economies, she said. It’s logical — if a company knows a community can spend a certain amount of their income on their products or sales, they will bring their business to the area.
“The city has to make an investment in prioritized housing,” May said. “It has to be a partnership between the private sector and the city. The city has to take leadership.”
May added that she wants to transition the homeless and those in city shelters into housing before thinking about building for newcomers. This includes supporting the DC Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development’s New Communities Initiative (NCI), which includes the Barry Farm community in Ward 8.
DC’s Housing Authority manages the Barry Farm residences for low-income households, and the community boasts a robust number of community services and churches like the Holy Temple, Matthews Memorial and Campbell AME. Each helps keep the community's history alive and supports those residents who have lived in the area all their lives.
Waddell said that while Bowen Flats is not a part of the NCI, it will help the overall revitalization of the Anacostia community.
“New communities replace the old, antiquated housing, help remove the crime and preserve the historical community,” he said. “They also help to break up the concentration of poverty.”