Celebrating More Affordable, Transitional, and Supportive Housing in Washington, DC

Within the last couple of weeks, LISC DC has celebrated milestones with Transitional Housing Corporation (THC), Phyllis Wheatley YWCA, and Mi Casa. Each of these partners is serving distinct populations in the District.  THC provides housing and comprehensive support services to homeless and at-risk families so that they can transform their own lives. Phyllis Wheatley YWCA is the only YWCA in the District providing affordable housing and programs to women in transition. Mi Casa provides affordable housing opportunities for low and moderate income families and is the operator of a first-of-its kind intergenerational affordable housing community in Washington, DC.

THC – Weinberg Commons

LISC DC has been a lender, funder, and technical support provider to the Transitional Housing Corporation (THC) since 2009. We invested nearly $10 million into THC’s Weinberg Commons project. Weinberg Commons is a 36 unit property that is home to 24 low-income families earning 60% of the area median income or below and 12 formerly homeless families that were referred to THC from the District’s Department of Behavioral Health.

Located at the intersection of Southern Avenue and Benning Road in southeast DC, Weinberg Commons is the country’s first multifamily retrofit Passive House project. This distinction means it adheres to strict energy efficiency standards, is very sustainable and utilizes a green architecture approach. The green features, including super insulation and solar shading, will result in a 90% reduction in heating costs for the residents, bringing their utility bills close to zero dollars. All residents have a two bedroom, one bathroom unit furnished with donations from five local churches.

Many of the residents were present for the opening celebration attended by Mayor Muriel Bowser, Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander, and former THC CEO and now Director of Housing and Community Development Polly Donaldson, among others. With the opening of Weinberg Commons more DC families will have access to affordable housing, and on-site wrap around case management services.

Phyllis Wheatley YWCA

The Phyllis Wheatley YWCA operates an independent living facility that houses low-income, formerly homeless women. The four story building located on the corner of Ninth and Rhode Island Ave in northwest DC, has a rich history. Named after the first African-American woman professional poet and writer in the U.S., it once served as a haven for young African-American women migrants seeking shelter at a time when segregation was law in this country. Built in 1920, the Phyllis Wheatley YWCA is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Today, the majority of the tenants at Phyllis Wheatley are mental health consumers, receiving case management services from social workers affiliated with the Department of Behavioral Health and from other community service agencies, such as N. Street Village. In addition to housing and mental health services, the residents at Phyllis Wheatley also have the opportunity to engage in community programming, including an adult book club, music and crotchet classes, and a reading program partnership with a neighborhood elementary school.

The Phyllis Wheatley YWCA will undergo a $17 million renovation that will preserve 84 permanent, supportive, and affordable housing units for low-income women. This may not have been possible if it wasn’t for the financing and funding from organizations like LISC DC that helped with the costs associated with the building undergoing the much-needed renovations.  Once complete, 54 of the 84 units will have private baths and kitchenettes and 30 units will be renovated as SRO units. The building will also have community spaces with adequate support for onsite clinical services.

Our $35,000 capacity building grant to Phyllis Wheatley YWCA will not only help them sustain their capacity as they engage in the reconfiguration and redevelopment of their building, but more importantly went toward helping them preserve the building’s rich heritage and honor the vision of the women who dared to dream big when doing so could be very costly.

Mi Casa – Genesis

LISC DC provided a $100,000 project invesment to Mi Casa to cover predevelopment expenses associated with the construction of Genesis, a 27-unit intergenerational affordable housing community consisting of single mothers transitioning from foster care and senior citizens.  Located at 6925 Georgia Avenue in northwest DC, the building provides very affordable homes in a supportive community setting. Genesis is close to public transportation, grocery stores, childcare centers, and other resources that meet the needs of all its residents.

True to its name, Genesis is the beginning of something new for Washington, DC. Genesis is the first community in the District to be based on the Generations of Hope Community model pioneered at Illinois’ Hope Meadows, the first intentional intergenerational neighborhood of its kind. This model of bringing generations together with an opportunity to serve is sure to build bridges that enhance relationships, build community, and civic participation. At Genesis neighbors make a commitment to do things to support the community and each other.

There is an expectation at Genesis that residents will provide 50 – 100 hours of community participation quarterly. This can include helping a neighbor with a task or errand, attending group activities, or other means of showing one’s commitment to the community. There is a community kitchen for group meetings and activities, and a children’s library for reading and playtime.  Whether a neighbor needs help with homework, assistance with a project, or just someone to speak to, at Genesis everyone will benefit from having a built-in support system.

LISC DC loves seeing our investments make a difference in the lives of DC families. During the recent celebrations of the openings of two brand new residences and one newly renovated residence, we were able to witness how more affordable, transitional and supportive housing impacts those who need it the most in the District.  We are thankful to our partners for the great work they do in providing comprehensive support services to formerly homeless and at-risk families,  affordable housing and services to women in transition, and connecting generations while building a community.

Weinberg Opening
Weinberg Commons Opening Celebration
Marvin Turner (HUD Field Office Director - DC) & Oramenta Newsome (LISC DC Executive Director)
Oramenta Newsome (LISC DC) with Marvin Turner (HUD) at Phyllis Wheatley Wall-Breaking Celebration
Genesis residents in library
Genesis Residents in Children’s Library