LISC Annual Site Visits Show Progress, Change

No winter season would be complete without our annual site visits with some of our nonprofit partners. Traveling in the “Martymobile”, a trusty, seven passenger mini-van courtesy of our own Marty Mellett, we tour the neighborhoods and learn the latest and greatest. We also get updates on present and future projects and initiatives, learn how we can be helpful and yes- get feedback and constructive criticism about LISC.

This year’s site visits offered a tangible sense of progress. Throughout the city nonprofits are preserving and adding to the affordable housing stock, developing new commercial/retail ventures and expanding and bringing new services into the neighborhoods.

But a single overriding lesson emerged from these site visits: The red-hot real estate market is dramatically changing our neighborhoods, bringing new investment, new owners and renters and new construction all over the city.

At the same time, it is becoming more difficult for lower income households to find their place in the city’s neighborhoods. With rapidly increasing housing costs and changes in the retail/commercial market, an increasing number of lower income households will find themselves unable to afford to live in the city. These are the households that make up a significant percentage of our labor force- cashiers, waiters, administrative assistants, teachers aides, janitorial workers, hotel employees, etc.

Using LISC resources and their own tenacity and creativity, our partners are making progress toward helping lower income households build their assets and find a place in our neighborhoods.

Highlights from our visit:

H Street CDC has demolished and cleared away a dilapidated 4 story warehouse, at 4th and Rhode Island, N.E. near the Rhode Island Avenue metro station. On this site will be a retail/residential property with retail on the first floor and over 150 rental units above the retail.

Washington Parks and People has installed a mosaic artwork, created by neighborhood children, on their Riverside Parks Center in Deanwood, the center of their operations for the reclamation of the Watts Branch Creek Park. On one of the dreariest blocks in the city they have literally created a shining jewel.

Mi Casa is completing and selling single family homes and actively working on the preservation of numerous multi-family properties by working with Tenant Associations to exercise their right of purchase.

Marshall Heights CDO is completing site work on Hilltop Terrace, an 18 home, detached single family development in Benning Heights, while they continue to create quality in-fill housing on individual lots throughout Ward 7.

Manna Inc. recently completed Syphax Village in Southwest, 29 new townhomes and a grand renovation and conversion of the old Syphax School into 12 condominiums.

The Brookland CDC is generating a new sense of cohesiveness and energy in Brookland with new businesses along 12th Street NE, a vibrant art gallery that supports the work of the CDC and the startup of the Brookland Historic Main Street.

Manna CDC has ice cream for sale. Stop by the Maggie Moos Ice Cream Shop in the 1300 block of U Street NW.

Gala Hispanic Theatre will be bringing multi-lingual performing arts to Columbia Heights with their move to their new state of the art center at the restored Tivoli Theatre.