2017 is almost over and it has been busy. This year, more than 850 GGWash readers and supporters took action with us on a variety of housing campaigns. On top of that, dozens of contributors helped us publish over 175 housing-related posts on the blog. That’s what an engaged and informed community looks like.
Here are some highlights from 2017; I hope you keep reading, writing and acting with us in the new year!
Amending the DC Comprehensive Plan
This year we crossed some major milestones in the ongoing effort to amend the DC Comprehensive Plan to make room for more homes, support more affordable homes, and protect residents from displacement. In February we and a diverse group of housing stakeholders released a list of 10 priorities for the Comp Plan. To date nearly 90 organizations (including 9 ANCs) and over 450 residents have signed on in support of these priorities.
In the spring, the coalition of housing stakeholders combed through the Comp Plan and drafted over 40 pages of detailed amendments based on those 10 priorities, which the group submitted to the Office of Planning (OP) in June. We have continued to monitor issues related to these housing priorities and educate public leaders about them as OP analyzes the more than 3,000 amendments that were submitted. We expect the city move to forward, releasing an updated Comprehensive Plan draft in 2018. Stay tuned and be ready to help us advocate for a stronger, clearer Comp Plan that truly plans for an inclusive city.
Taking action on the blog
This year more supporters signed petitions or sent letters to officials for housing-related campaigns than ever before through the blog. A few examples:
- Readers sent over 80 emails to the DC Council and to DC Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA), pointing out that in the midst of a public outcry about slumlords like Sanford Capitol, the city should really consider having more than 13 housing code inspectors for an entire city. Later that month, the DC Council approved funding to hire two more full-time inspectors to investigate violations and enforce fines.
- To date over 100 Montgomery County supporters have contacted Chairman Ike Leggett and other county councilmembers, urging them to choose the redevelopment plan for the old Silver Spring Library that has 90 homes and affordable homes (rather than a proposal that has 0 homes). We’ll hear more about this in January, but even if the council makes the right choice here, we can bet on opposing neighbors attempting to slow the approval process. We’ll need your help to get much needed homes to Silver Spring!
- Thanks to tireless work by advocates across the region, Arlington legalized accessory apartments nearly a decade ago. But since then, the county has only granted permits for 20 due to overly restrictive regulations. GGWash readers and supporters recently wrote letters in support of reform, and even organized a tour of a basement apartment in Arlington (attended by one of the County Board members!) The board passed most of the reforms in November and will vote again on the issue of allowing detached accessory apartments in early 2018.
Most-read housing posts of 2017
- Baltimore may sell homes for $1 instead of demolishing them (October 30, 2017) – Baltimore's population decline has led to a dearth of buildings, some which have been left to deteriorate. Now the city is considering a measure that would allow people to buy homes for $1 instead of demolishing them. Read more »
- Brookland Manor: A crash course in why housing in DC is so complicated (April 21, 2017) – Just east of the the Rhode Island Avenue Metro, there’s a gigantic housing complex called Brookland Manor. The owners plan to redevelop it and say they’re building far more affordable housing than DC law requires. The people who live there now say the owners aren’t coming close to meeting the area’s need for affordable housing. They’re both right. This was a six-part investigative series by GGWash super-contributor Pete Rodrigue. Read more »
- I bought a house in Prince George’s County, and I’m really happy I did (October 20, 2017) – There are a lot of complaints about affordability in the DC area, yet many people seem to have a mental block around a great alternative: living or buying a house in Prince George’s County. Read more »
- The Townhomes on Capitol Hill are affordable no matter your income. Here’s how they work. (March 22, 2017) – Our region is increasingly segregated by income. I live in a community where low-income people rent their homes without government subsidy, and they do so right next door to people who don’t need any housing assistance. You wouldn’t guess it by looking at it. Read more »
- “Instant neighborhoods” don’t make for great cities, but DC insists on them (September 25, 2017) – The best approach to development accepts that all neighborhoods – like the world around them and the people within them – are always going to change. Just as biodiversity boosts ecosystems, so embracing diverse and evolving buildings can help cities be more resilient. Read more »
Thank for reading, writing, taking action, and donating to support this work this year. We could not have done all this without you!
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