Khyeria Ferguson
credit: Khyeria Ferguson

Mayor Muriel Bowser’s administration orchestrated the “June Housing Bloom” to focus on the affordable housing crisis in the District of Columbia. According to the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), this month-long initiative showcased how the public and private sectors are partnering to produce and preserve affordable housing.

On June 20, the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) and Bible Way Church co-hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for Plaza West Apartments. The Plaza West property, located at 4th and K Streets NW in the Mount Vernon Triangle neighborhood, will offer its residents budget-friendly rent and downtown access. The new development will contain 223 units, with 50 units set aside for grandfamilies whose household income is between 30–50 percent of the area median income. Grandfamilies are families in which grandparents are raising their grandchildren. The remaining 173 apartments at Plaza West will be designated for moderate to low-income singles and families.

At the groundbreaking ceremony, Yvonne L. Williams described the alley dwellings that used to be common in sections of Northwest and Southwest Washington. “These dwellings lacked central plumbing and forced residents to use outhouses as their toilets,” said Williams, who is the daughter of the late Bishop Smallwood E. Williams, founder of Bible Way Church.

For decades, Bible Way Church has advocated for the poor and made providing affordable housing for low and moderate-income families a priority.  Bible Way’s redevelopment of the area around Mount Vernon Triangle began in 1972 with the Golden Rule Apartments, which provided 183 units of affordable housing for families. Units contained 1-3 bedrooms, a balcony, and access to an on-site playground and community room. Since creating Golden Rule Apartments, Bible Way Church has continued to develop properties for low and moderate income renters.  Plaza West will be Bible Way’s fifth property in or near Mount Vernon Triangle.

Khyeria Ferguson

Khyeria Ferguson

“It is important that we break the shackles of poverty and address the need for affordable housing!” said Alicia Terry, president of Golden Rule Plaza, Inc., at the groundbreaking ceremony.

The ceremony concluded with acknowledgement of actions taken to create and preserve affordable housing. “Fellowship, partnership, and friendship. What more could you ask for?” said Edmund Delany, Senior Vice President of Capital One Bank and a financing partner of SeVerna on the K, a nearby Bible Way property completed in 2015.

A number of other events were part of the June Housing Bloom. On June 1, DHCD released five Solicitations for Offers for the construction of 25 District-owned residential properties in wards 4, 5, 7 and 8. On June 11, DHCD and the Greater Washington Urban League hosted the Eighth Annual Housing Expo at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

In addition, on June 17 an economics roundtable was convened by DMPED and the D.C. Chamber of Commerce to discuss data on health concerns and social behaviors, in order to aid service organizations in providing families with services to meet their needs.