Last year, the DC Housing Authority (DCHA) unsuccessfully applied for a Choice Neighborhood Planning Grant through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to fund the redevelopment planning process for nearly 500 units of public housing at Greenleaf. The Greenleaf community, which includes Greenleaf Gardens, Greenleaf Senior, Greenleaf Extension, and Greenleaf Addition, occupies four blocks along M Street SW, adjacent to the Waterfront metro station. Once notified that Greenleaf had not been chosen for a planning grant in November, DCHA indicated that it was still interested in moving forward with redeveloping Greenleaf’s current footprint into a denser, mixed-income community.

This spring, DCHA will host a series of meetings for Greenleaf residents to discuss the future, and likely redevelopment, of their homes. The first of these meetings was held on February 24th at the Greenleaf Senior building, where DCHA representative Janice Burgess spoke to more than 70 residents about not receiving the Choice Neighborhood Planning Grant, and the foreseen next steps in the planning process.

During this meeting, many residents had questions about moving, the condition of the current buildings, and whether Greenleaf had already been sold (the answer is “no”). Mrs. Burgess stated that the planning process is likely to take between 18 and 24 months, and encouraged residents to participate throughout. She also reaffirmed DCHA’s commitment to one-for-one replacement, meaning that any redevelopment scenario would ensure that all 500 public housing units are rebuilt in the Southwest community.

In response to DCHA’s newest redevelopment planning efforts, Greenleaf Extension Resident Council President and SWNA Board Member Dena Walker stated “This change will directly impact the social, academic, and economic environments of families. I am committed to facilitating a progressive working relationship amongst involved Greenleaf Extension residents, DCHA, and other Southwest community stakeholders who express interest in the planning processes and implementation phases of the redevelopment effort.”

The future of the Greenleaf community has been a hot topic during the primary election season, with both Mayoral and City Council candidates stating that priority should be placed on allowing Greenleaf residents to remain in Southwest both during and after redevelopment. Key to ensuring that residents are not displaced from the community during the redevelopment process is a commitment to Build-First. In a Build-First model, new units are developed prior to the demolition. Doing so allows construction to be phased on different parcels within the public housing footprint. As each building is finished, residents will move from their current home to the newly constructed home within the same community.

In the coming weeks, DCHA will issue a request for proposals to hire a land-use planner that will work with the residents to design the future of the Greenleaf community. A planning charrette is tentatively scheduled for late spring. DCHA is seeking input on this project, and encourages Greenleaf residents to contact them about the planning process at (202) 535-1445.

By: Rachel Reilly Carroll

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