Cleveland Park benefits from a wide range of public amenities – a metro stop, a beautiful new library, easy access to Rock Creek Park and other green spaces – along with good retail shops, a farmers market and other resources. But it’s also unaffordable. Many people can’t afford to live here, and many who rent here can’t afford to buy. Overwhelmingly white, our neighborhood also falls far short of mirroring our city’s racial diversity – a fact that reflects a legacy of deliberate exclusion.
How did Cleveland Park come to be this way? How can we develop future housing in ways that make our neighborhood more inclusive, more affordable, more commercially vibrant and sustainable? How can we play our part in meeting the city’s needs for housing overall? This three-part series will explore these questions.
We hope to start a conversation to help our community prepare for our upcoming “development and design guidelines” planning process for Cleveland and Woodley Park, which will lay out how we can create housing for a range of incomes while staying architecturally compatible with the historic districts in these neighborhoods.
Part 1 “How We Got Here,” looked at how the neighborhood’s past has influenced the challenges we face today. CPSG’s Bob Ward reviewed research of the history of exclusion in our neighborhood and Dr. Brian McCabe, Associate Professor of Sociology at Georgetown, talked about the ways in which high income neighborhoods like ours often perpetuate their exclusivity through modern civic engagement. The presenters were joined in a discussion involving audience Q&A by Rick Nash, former president and current vice-president of the Cleveland Park Historical Society, Janell Pagats, vice-chair of ANC 3C, and David Cristeal, ANC commissioner for 3F01. The event was held on Thursday, January 20th, 7:30-9:10 pm.
Material from the event:
“The Panic in Cleveland Park” Washington Post, 1986
News and information on removing racial covenants
Racist housing covenants haunt property records across the country. New laws make them easier to remove. Washington Post, 10/21/2020
Racial covenants, a relic of the past, are still on the books across the country, NPR 11/17/2021
Part 2 “Current Need for Housing,” covered what housing affordability or “affordable housing” means, how is the gap widening between people facing housing challenges and the homes and apartments available? What is the impact of this challenge and, based on what we learned in Session 1, what current barriers face us as we consider possible solutions?
LaToya Thomas, of Brick & Story – an urban consultancy practice focused on telling the stories of the built environment and the people who live, work, and play within its spaces – will help us understand the ways to define the housing affordability challenge. What do we mean by “affordable housing”? What does AMI, MFI and FMR mean in this learning about “affordable housing”?
She will also drill down into the specific housing challenges facing Cleveland Park by describing its place in a regional housing ecosystem – what are some of the drivers of the regional housing market and how do they, as well as local policies and practices affect the housing supply we have in Cleveland Park? What is the range of homes on the market – what types and price points? Who are the people who may be seeking a home in Cleveland Park? People who work here but live elsewhere; people who rent and want to own here. Understanding their challenges was illustrated by panelists and practitioners who describe the challenges they face finding an home they can afford in today’s Cleveland Park.
Part 3 “Solutions for Meeting Our Housing Needs,”
Our final session on housing challenges in the greater Cleveland Park heard from people on the front lines of providing new housing across the District and region. We discussed steps we can take to add more neighbors to our community from a range of incomes. Our panelists also talked about the tools available to add more affordable and accessibly priced housing, as well as the hurdles we need to lower to get there.
Our panel included:
Patrick McAnaney of Somerset Development, developer of affordable housing in the D.C. region
Aakash Thakkar, Ward 3 resident and Chief Acquisitions Officer at EYA, a local development firm.
Gwen Wright, Cleveland Park resident and Director of Planning in Montgomery County, Maryland.
Held: Wednesday, March 16th, 7:30-9pm
Not a member of CPSG? Join us, it’s free!