Ivy City

Ivy City is a small and contained neighborhood in Northeast Washington, DC. It is home to many gems, including Gallaudet University, a private university for the education of the deaf and hard of hearing; the notable Hecht’s Warehouse that sold in 2011 and is now loft apartments, and the Crummel School named after Alexander Crummel, an abolitionist and Episcopal priest.

We were a key partner in the Ivy City Housing Initiative, a multi-year, multi-partner effort to help stabilize Ivy City, a small neighborhood with the highest concentration of vacant property and foreclosures in the city. This initiative replaced 37 vacant and abandoned properties with 58 units of affordable homeownership housing.

LISC partners Mi Casa, Manna, and Habitat for Humanity were selected through the City’s RFP process to be the developers for this initiative. Acting as a convener, investor, funder, and broker, LISC worked in partnership with the developers, DC’s Department of Housing and Community Development, the Office of Planning and the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development.

LISC provided Mi Casa an $872,000 construction loan and a $25,000 grant to help incorporate green features into 8 units that are now complete and for sale. LISC also provided Habitat for Humanity a $75,000 low-cost loan and a $25,000 grant to incorporate green features into their first phase of 12 Ivy City properties. We also provided funds for a marketing firm to help attract prospective buyers.

Our investment in Ivy City did not only help revitalize the physical housing stock and put vacant land back into productive use, it also helped provide deeply affordable, healthy homes to over 50 first time homebuyers who will have a stake in the neighborhood.

Ivy City is also the site of one of the District of Columbia Office of Planning (OP)’s creative placemaking initiatives.

Creative placemaking is the intentional support of arts and culture-related organizations and activities that bring residents together to make social, physical, and economic changes in their neighborhoods.

After conducting a thorough competition, DC’s Office of Planning chose a diverse set of curators to develop and deliver arts-related projects in all eight wards of the city. LISC DC, in partnership with buildingcommunityWORKSHOP (bc), was selected.

The OP’s Crossing the Street: Building DC’s Inclusive Future through Creative Placemaking goal was to foster civic interaction and engage residents in a conversation about the future of their city.

As part of our creative placemaking work in Ivy City, LISC DC, Empower DC, The Sanctuaries, Open Studio DC, and bcWORKSHOP worked with Ivy City residents to create a large piece of community art.

Residents took photos that represented what Ivy City – both current and historic – meant to them.  The photos were included in big letters that spelled out “Ivy City.”  See photos below.

The screenprinted installation was unveiled at a community celebration on Saturday, October 29th.  It was a great event.  Over 200 people came out to promote community building in a neighborhood that is experiencing swift demographic and social change.