WIN Organizes for Millions to Re-Open Parkway Overlook Apts. in Ward 8
The Parkway Overlook Tenant Association, the Washington Interfaith Network (WIN), and two WIN members — Brighter Day United Methodist Church (located across the street from Parkway Overlook) and Metropolitan Memorial United Methodist Church — have been organizing to get the over 200 units at Parkway Overlook redeveloped since they closed in 2008. When HUD closed down the building due to its crumbling conditions, hundreds of families were displaced. Despite commitment after commitment by multiple administrations, the building has been left vacant for eight years becoming further and further blighted. Through the years WIN members Brighter Day UMC and Metropolitan Memorial UMC, and the tenants led the effort to organize and advocate for its redevelopment as affordable housing. In 2013, the congregations held a worship service attended by hundreds of community members and a prayer vigil outside the building attended by Mayor Gray where he pledged to get the property redeveloped. We remained engaged for years while the District of Columbia Housing Finance Agency (DCHFA) made several efforts to select a developer and ultimately transferred title to the District of Columbia Housing Authority (DCHA) in September 2014. In 2015, the congregations followed up with another service followed by over 100 people walking to the property to pray for its redevelopment. Mayor Bowser has now pledged her support for the redevelopment of Parkway Overlook. It has been 20 months since DCHA acquired ownership of the property and 8 years that tenants have waited to return. The time is now to fund the redevelopment of Parkway Overlook. We ask Mayor Bowser and the DC Department of Housing & Community Development (DHCD) to fund Parkway Overlook’s redevelopment in 2016. When we held community engagement meetings, over 40 displaced families returned to hear about the progress of the property. These tenants were promised the ability to return to their neighborhood. DC needs to make good on that promise. In addition to allowing former tenants to return, the redevelopment of Parkway Overlook would create affordable housing for many other families. This is especially critical as the affordable housing crisis in our city worsens and the number of families experiencing homelessness peaks. The proposal for Parkway Overlook includes 59 affordable three-bedroom units that are especially needed in the market. Finally, each month that we do not redevelop Parkway Overlook, DCHA incurs holding costs to keep the vacant property from becoming crime ridden and further harming the community. The development costs associated with Parkway Overlook are more in line with new construction than the rehabilitation costs outlined in the RFP. This is because after sitting vacant for 8 years Parkway Overlook is in great disrepair and will require a gut-rehabilitation and the replacement of all major systems. A delay in funding this project will only increase the construction costs associated with Parkway Overlook so we urge swift funding of this proposal. Additionally, we expect the application for Parkway Overlook may well be one of the larger requests DHCD receives. This is because the quantity of units – 220 units – is so large. We urge Mayor Bowser and DCHD to view the number of units at Parkway Overlook as a strength of the proposal given the city’s affordable housing crisis, not a weakness. Former tenants, community members, and congregation members have participated in shaping the unit mix, amenities and affordability for the proposed redevelopment. WIN fully supports the DC Housing Authority (DCHA) application to the Spring 2016 Affordable Housing Trust Fund. It is our hope that the Government of the District of Columbia will now invest in Parkway Overlook to preserve it as affordable housing.