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Court Decision Opens Path to Major Ward 1 Affordable Housing

I want to share some exciting news! 

After seven years in federal court, we can finally move forward with hundreds of units of affordable, beautiful, dignified housing units and a community park at Bruce Monroe, the “build-first” site for the Park Morton public housing project.  

As you know, since my first day in office I committed to building more affordable housing here in Ward 1. Over the past 10 years I’ve put more than 1,200 units of affordable housing in the pipeline here. The long-beleaguered Park Morton project will be one of the most transformative. 

We are now able to deliver on the promise I made from the start of my term in office to build more affordable housing in the neighborhood, and specifically for the residents of Park Morton, who were promised this so long ago. 

Yesterday, the D.C. Court of Appeals issued an order (read the decision below) that dismisses the legal action that has held up the project all these years. The court found that the zoning commission’s approval of the project was justified. 

It’s disappointing that we did not get to fully deliver on the “build-first” promise. The plan was to build replacement housing (at Bruce Monroe) before tearing down and rebuilding Park Morton, allowing residents to stay in their neighborhood.

Stay informed about opportunities to participate in the community engagement process for the new park at Bruce Monroe.

It’s frustrating that a handful of people were able to hold up hundreds of housing units for seven years because they think their individual property interests, their right not to have sunlight blocked by a building, was more important than the safety and dignity of their neighbors. It’s been devastating to the community. 

Still, Park Morton residents who utilized vouchers or moved to other properties will have the right to return when they are ready. Those who still live at Park Morton will also get the housing they’ve waited for so long. 

I’m hopeful that this court decision will make legal challenges less likely in future project and that it will provide confidence to developers and builders to pursue more than the minimum amount of housing permitted by right. We need more projects like this in Ward 1 and across the District to meet the acute housing needs of people at many income levels.  

I spoke with the Mayor last night and I offered my support to her administration in moving this project forward swiftly. I’ll focus on making sure the project has the funding it needs in the next District budget, which we will take up this spring. 

I cannot emphasize enough how critical the strong support of the Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners was in getting us here and I look forward to working with all of them to complete the project. This development is a big win for them, the neighborhood, and the District. Together we’ll finally get to deliver on our promise to the current and former residents of Park Morton.  

As someone who lives nearby with my family, I’m especially looking forward to restarting the community conversations about the new, permanent community park at Bruce Monroe.  

I’ll be meeting with project development team, and government officials in the coming weeks to ensure this project continues to move forward. 

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I look forward to collaborating with the Office of Planning, neighbors, and local institutions to create a new community landmark we can all be proud of, one that will add density to the site, contribute to the shortage of affordable housing in this part of Ward 1 and provide new public amenities to help restore the vibrancy of this end of the U Street Corridor.
The Utility Disconnection Protection Act of 202 would apply protections from May 15 through September 15, and from November 1 through February 29, an expansion of the current temperature-based protections required by law.

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