“Despite our focus on affordable housing, people have felt left out, specifically families that already live in the District.” Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, 2017

Kenyan McDuffie, photo by Carolyn Kaster

Whether you take the bus, hop in an Uber, or walk as your primary mode of transportation throughout the nation’s capital, it is hard to NOT notice the monstrous construction cranes piercing the skyline. Almost every week, it seems as though there is yet again another crane, popping up like weeds, commissioned by the big developer names in DC. It is evident that the DC housing market is booming and developers are making the right moves to leverage this profitable trend. Many of these upscale, artistic, and very posh developments, however, are pushing long-time and low-income residents to the margins of the city both figuratively and literally! Lately, there have been stringent efforts by District officials to explore solutions to this remedy this ongoing problem of displacement.

On March 7th, Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie boldly proposed a new bill to make headway in this direction. The Family Unit Amendment Act of 2017, or “McDuffie Bill” arises in response to the scarcity of large units available in each ward in conjunction with the vast number of very- and extremely-low income households with larger families. McDuffie explains, “To date, our focus has been on Affordable Dwelling Units. We have judged our success based on the number of units we have created, with little emphasis on the size of the units being built.”

The McDuffie Bill proposes that 10% of the affordable units within a residential development, which are required by the DMPED, must be “large family” units, which are defined as dwellings with three or more bedrooms.

These affordable units, which are funded by the city’s Housing Production Trust Fund, would create more options for larger (in size), lower-income families when looking for their next home. Mayor Bowser has committed to annually direct $100 million to close the financing gap created by affordable housing projects.

The growing trend in the DC housing market has favored the interests of young professionals, who tend to occupy one and two-bedroom units throughout the city.

In Woodley Park, there is a new residential proposal for a 28-unit, studio development on its way! Plans rendered by CORE Architecture + Design have recently been filed with the Historic Preservation Office to build a five-story property with individual units ranging in size from 399 to 491 square feet. This building would also have a shared, outdoor roof terrace, separated by green spaces from mechanical equipment.

Front view of proposed 28-Unit Studio development
Rear view of proposed 28-Unit Studio development

The McDuffie Bill has yet to be finalized, though, we can only assume that major residential developers will consider this legislation when moving forward with their site plans. To what extent this bill will change their strategy remains unknown, so we will just have to wait and see how things pan out.

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