It seems clear that the property could be better utilized to enhance the Shaw streetscapes and to capitalize on its proximity to mass transit. Hopefully the owners of Lincoln Westmoreland II intend to make better use of the property in the near future and will create a beautiful, vibrant, mixed-income (inclusive of affordable housing), mixed-use, and high density community. That said, many of our neighbors call Lincoln Westmoreland II home, so sensitivity must be used when pontificating on what could be made of the property.
One DC -- whose mission is "to exercise political strength to create and preserve racial and economic equity in Shaw and the District -- issued the following email recently about Lincoln Westmoreland II:
In February 2009, the tenants at Lincoln Westmoreland II (LWII) received a notice from their landlord, informing them that the Section 8 contract for their building is set to expire on Jan. 31, 2010. The landlord, Mid-City Financial Corporation, has indicated that although it intends to extend the contract through at least February 28, 2010, it does not intend to renew the contract upon its expiration.
The decision by Mid-City Financial is yet another recent example of landlords who own project-based Section 8 housing in the District deciding against renewing their Section 8 contracts. There are 7,800 project-based Section 8 units set to expire by 2013. Of those, 5,400 units - 55 properties in total - are owned by for-profit landlords. Many for-profit owners decline contract renewal because of opportunities to charge higher rents and generate more rental income on the open market. With each decision against renewal, the number of affordable housing units in DC is reduced substantially. This increases the obstacles to economic sustainability faced by ONE DC members and low-income residents.
More of our members face displacement from their homes and communities as the socio-economic inefficiencies caused by gentrification drive up property taxes, increase rental rates, and diminish the affordable housing stock. With meager financial resources, they face the possibility of enduring substandard living conditions, exemplified by overcrowding, displacement, and homelessness.
We believe that housing is a human right, as fundamental as the right to free speech. ONE DC intends to work with the tenants of LWII to ensure they have every opportunity to exercise their rights as this process unfolds. Stay tuned - we'll provide updates about this situation as new developments occur.