BNCA Monthly Membership Meeting September 17
Officers Present: Dan Schramm, Kathy Jacquart, Clyde Blassengale, Helen LaCroix, Fred Jackson
Meeting called to order 7:05
Dan: Welcome everyone, thank you for contributing to the civic life of our community.
Old business: We were away for the month of August, and I checked our BNCA notes on where we left off. We filed comments for Franklin St. Bike lane on the Notice of Intent. I saw Nick Cheolas who is that ANC across the bridge on that stretch of Franklin–he said there was the largest number of public comments for a proposal of this magnitude that DDOT had ever seen. That was good–a testament to hard work Ra and Nick and the BNCA did a good job of getting the word out. DDOT appears to be ready to move forward with the section from 7th to 12th – the Brookland side, where our concerns are greatest. Construction should happen at some point but we don’t have word on that yet.
Any other old business? None.
Clyde: Treasurer’s Report. For July and August. We started with $4,001.85 balance. We took in 1 member in July and we had a contribution in July, which brought us to $35 in income. Expenses included the normal paper statement fee. We are charged $2 every month for our paper statement. We contributed $250 to Friends of Noyes Park for the Halloween parade. We had free ice cream from Bri’s ice cream at our July meeting and we covered that cost. Our expenses totalled $294. $3,742 and change–we ended both months with that amount. I have a copy of the report in my computer and can forward if you like
I also have a membership report. We are over 200 members. I ask that they both reports be accepted.
Motion made to accept the reports, passed unanimously.
Dan: Other old business includes Friends of Noyes Park Halloween Parade. Does anyone have an update?
Helen: I ran into Audrey at Ward 5 day, they are having issues with government agencies not in agreement on the type of permit that is needed. They are at a bit of a standstill until they work that out but they are working hard on it.
Dan: Thank you. On to new business. We’re very glad to have Pathways to Housing to DC, new organization in Brookland, here to present. I’m happy they reached out. Lina Permut and Sarah Brown both represent Pathways to Housing, which is located over on Evarts Street by the red line tracks.
Lina: Thank you. Pathways has been in DC for 15 years. We are focused on ending chronic homelessness in DC. Pathways started in NY with a housing first model. We don’t work exclusively on housing, but we treat homelessness first. In order to end homelessness, a person needs to have a home. We make sure that people can stay in their homes. Our programs and support services for clients include health care (physical and mental), employment services, help getting SSI benefits, services to navigate various social benefit systems. We have helped get over 900 people into homes – all across the City. We have helped 3,500 people in client supported housing to stay in housing. Model is 92% successful. Other programs require a client to be in drug rehab program or require other things for you to be in the program. We moved here from Eckington 2 months ago.We are right behind Tastemakers on Evarts. We go there all the time! We love it. The community is very accessible for Metro. We want to be great neighbors, we want people to come visit our space. Our work is all over the city. We have the largest outreach team in the city. We have people scouring all over the streets finding people to work with. Sarah is on our veterans team.
Question: What volunteer opportunities do you have?
Lina: We have a donation closet in our office with clothing. Helping to keep that organized and bringing items in are two ways people can help. We have a Thanksgiving luncheon the week before Thanksgiving. Our staff cooks and provides the turkey, but if you want to cook food, or serve the meal, that would be great–we’d love to have neighbors and others in community to come serve or bring food to serve.
Question: Can you drop off clothes?
Lina: Yes, clean, gently used clothes. We are big on empowerment. No broken or tattered items, please. We want people to feel good in the clothes they’re wearing.
Question: You’re a not a government agency, right? Where is your funding coming from?
Lina: We get a combination of DC funding, federal, and private dollars.
Question: Where is your location?
Answer: 828 Evarts St. NE, the old Manna building.
Question: Are you a 501(c)3?
Question: Do you own the building?
Lina: We are not the owner of the building.
Dan: Do you know if the property may be developed?
Lina: We have a 3-5 year lease. We’d like to own our own space eventually but we plan to be there 5 years.
Question: How many people work in your in outreach program?
Lina: 22 staffers. All together staff is 150+ people.
Question: Do they work up and down RIA?
Lina: No, we are in golden triangle, downtown, and NOMA. Our outreach contracts do not cover Brookland. We need funding to work in Brookland, we’d love to do it. Our funding often comes from contracts with BIDs in those areas.
Dan: Are you in touch with RIA Main Street on their pending BID? I would be happy to connect you to Kyle Todd. We would like to see some services going into the community.
Lina: I agree. As you get more businesses you will see more people wanting to spend time here.
Dan: Is this Brookland location your headquarters?
Lina: This is our office, but most of the work happens in community. Some clients come in for services. Most of the work happens in peoples’ homes. Taking them to appointments, grocery store, helping them learn how to cook. To be chronically homeless is to be homeless for over one year. Typically 5-10 years of homelessness. Many people really need to learn what it’s like to have a home again.
Sarah: When you’re homeless it’s hard to take care of your medical needs, your job is survival. Our job is to unravel other stuff once the client is in the home, meeting them where they are.
Lina: We cannot provide outreach services in other areas, our outreach funds are tied to those areas. Our staffers are contracted to a particular area. The housing we provide is in every single ward. We use HUD voucher, or DC govt voucher.
Dan: If I knew a person in need, could I take that person over to your office to get services?
Lina: Not exactly. There’s an assessment that’s part of a centralized intake process and you would get that person into the database. You can call the Shelter Hotline (202) 399-7093 – and more info at https://dhs.dc.gov/service/emergency-shelter
There’s one point of entry for the programs citywide, that ensures most vulnerable people get housing first. Veterans program also has a coordinated entry system. Anyone who wants housing can get it–that’s the goal. The database has centralized information on who has seen that person, what services they’ve received. We do have a contract with Dept. of Human Services, and Federal contracts for our Veterans work.
Ra: I’ve noticed an increase in homeless people using Noyes Park. This happened over the summer. The school uses the park and daycare center. People are setting up camp under pavilion. Maybe to charge phones. People are sleeping there. Is that an increase that’s because you are there?
Lina: Let me see what our Executive Director says about what we can do. We don’t have resources to go to that park. People who come to visit our office typically come in, get what they need, then go back to where they are comfortable. But what you’re saying presents an interesting opportunity to connect with people who may want housing. There’s a homeless hotline–if it’s hot or cold, there’s a shelter van. There’s also a Department of Behavioral Health access health line. That would be a point of entry to the system.
Dan: Thank you for being here, we really appreciate it.
Question: Do you have opportunities for high school students to come volunteer?
Lina: Yes, I have plenty of things for them to do. We can connect you.
Dan: Thank you. Our next guest, I’d like to welcome back Nicole Commodore from Providence Health System who will talk about their Open House.
Nicole Commodore: Thank you. I will be brief. Our event is Saturday September 21st from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. As you know we’re going through a transition from acute care hospital to healthy village. That transition was guided by the Community Health Needs Assessment which focused on the need for are in 3 major areas: mental health, chronic illness, and seniors. We opened up an urgent care center–we are open and encourage you to stop by. Most ER admissions were acute care which is why we went to urgent care. We are moving forward with our community engagement for Wards 5 and 6, now we’re working on engagement in Wards 7 and 8. And we’re doing assessment of the campus. What buildings and structures are there– what do we want to keep, what’s not worth renovating. Lots of questions to work through, that work will take the rest of the year. Then we’re working through community input we’ve gathered from 500+ community members. We’re trying to see what we can do to meet all the requests. We’re expanding the MRI center, radiology, labs. Bringing that stuff in will be next phase. We’re still doing assessments but we wanted you all to know that we are here, so we’re doing this event. The CEO will have some sessions and will talk about the future of Providence. We’ll have 24 community orgs on site, a kids corner, moonbounce, food trucks. We’re letting the community know we’re here, not going anywhere. Everyone welcome.
Question: Do you have an idea of the kind of insurance you will take? Will you be able to take standard health insurances?
Nicole: That hasn’t changed. Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance. We will have staged area at the event with TED-style talks on healthy eating, diabetes care, etc. We are not a 24-7 facility. We are outpatient. Our goal is to add more services. Urgent care is open 7 days but shorter hours on weekends.
Question: Will you offer training or certifications?
Nicole: We are working with the DC hospital association on a job training program, directed in Wards 7 and 8. Working with universities and trade associations to help get people jobs.
Question: Are you targeting Ward 5 business for your procurement?
Nicole: We invited all to the event. When we get to the construction phase, McDuffie has been on top of making sure we reach out to Ward 5 businesses. The CEO will talk at 10 a.m. and 2:45 on Saturday. I can send info on schedule of talks. The event will be on the property in parking lot C. Parking lot for first building when you make a left off 12th St.
Question: Carroll Manor is not going anywhere?
Nicole: No, it’s not. In fact we are expanding it.
Question: Has any part of the property been sold or leased to developers?
Answer: No. We’re not building condos, we’re adding services.
Question: It will be a clinic?
Nicole: No it’s more than a clinic. It’s a healthy village. We’re providing access to services to address the social determinants of health.
Question: If someone needs hospitalization, where do they go?
Answer: Either Howard or Washington Hospital Center.
Dan: Thank you Nicole, that was very informative and helpful. Next up is our former BNCA officer, Brian Stevens, with an update on 2607 Reed St. There’s a long sordid history with this property. Tomorrow Ra is hosting his SMD meeting at JACS and one of the items on the agenda is the developer for this property will be there with a presentation. Tonight I invited Brian to give a neighbor’s perspective.
Brian: I passed a flyer around with a picture and some background. Adams Investment purchased this property years ago. It’s an alley property. Adams wanted to bypass certain restrictions to build 9 stories. Their strategy was to connect the property to a lot on Evarts street. They couldn’t do it because it would require an alley closure the neighbors opposed, so they sold the property to Trammell Crow. Trammell [actually, a subsidiary named High Street Residential] has new ideas on how to do this. Look at the picture–the red area abuts row homes and Reed St. The Property is zoned MU-6, which means they could in theory build to 90 feet. However, the Height Act of 1910 says that the width of streets control how high a building can go. The address is on Reed St. It’s only 30 feet wide. That means you can only get 50 feet. (This was the same problem Adams had.) The new owner’s strategy is a “subdivision” with property at 920 RI Ave, to get the address on Rhode Island Ave. If this is allowed, they are getting 90 feet when they should have only gotten 50 feet. We have signed petitions against this. They never came to us, they never came to BNCA. Tomorrow night is a dog and pony show, a PR stunt, they never submitted any plans. They want to put on a show because they don’t care about the community. They were cited for illegal asbestos removal. Only when someone complained did they say they wanted to come meet.
To be clear, we’re ok with development– but we want a 5-story building. There’s not a 9-story building anywhere in the neighborhood. The closest is NOMA. They don’t care about the community. Neighbors are not opposed to development. Your voices can stop this. We have an attorney to file a lawsuit, Hopefully it won’t be necessary.
Dan: Thank you, I want to tease out nuances. Others have questions too. DCRA said they would make a decision on the building permit last week, but we didn’t hear anything since. I think it got elevated inside the agency. Do you know whether it was issued?
Brian: The city is aware this is gerrymandered, There has not been a permit issued. And regarding the meaningful connection they are claiming to create the subdivision–there is no meaningful connection. It’s a total lie. To get that is physically impossible, because there is a parking lot between 2607 and 920 RI Ave. You’d have to kick out Budget Truck Rental which has a 15-year lease.
Dan: Virginia Williams Resource Center is a city lessee–are they going anywhere? Douglas Development is the owner of the property.
Brian: They didn’t notify them. That facility was just renovated, they are not going anywhere.
Dan: So, there are two or three pathways. There’s the building permit question and the City hasn’t issued a decision on that yet. I don’t know that BNCA will weigh in on that. Theory is it’s a matter of right so no actual way for us to make comment. If they issue the permit, the neighbors could file a suit to challenge – that would be the legal route. We should think about what could be done – more as a “political” route. At Ra’s discretion the community could speak through the ANC on this. But there is not necessarily any hook here for ANC to do something that would carry “great weight. ” Still, its our right and the ANC’s to speak if only to say we have concerns fundamentally with a building of this height at this location.
Brian: We are not opposed to development especially by metro, having density by metro is important. We’re not talking about a 5- or 6-story building. Not about yes or no, it’s about scale. And they’re doing bare minimum for low income housing.
Question: Do you have signatures collected? How many?
Brian: We have 30, mostly from people in immediate vicinity. Many of the 500-footers have signed.
Question: What has McDuffie done?
Nolan Treadway: We’ve mostly been facilitating to get information back and forth from OP and DCRA to the parties.
Question: People from Ward 2 may be able to help (ie, because they are trying to unseat Jack Evans). May help put Council members on notice that developers can’t just buy their way in. What are the height of other buildings being built? Other buildings on Rhode Island Avenue?
Dan: This is why BNCA has been involved in Comprehensive Plan process—try to design policies and regulatory framework–get development more attuned to public interest. I’m for dense, urban, transit-oriented development. What we see in practicality– it’s opportunistic, not well planned. Developers are in it for the money. The Council, Mayor, Government, the draft Plan they put out suggests they are effectively trying to weaken these frameworks not strengthen them. I don’t have problems with high buildings, but we want it done well, according to CP principles. That includes integration with the existing building environment. You tier up so that aesthetic of 9 stories is ok. The City’s inclusionary zoning requirements (ie, the # of mandatory affordable units in new buildings) are pathetic. I did have coffee with High Street earlier this summer after I reached out to them (they didn’t come to me). They were very open about not going above required affordable housing requirement or any other requirements.
Question: Where are They from?
Dan: Trammell Crow based in TX. This is a subsidiary of Trammell Crow.
Question: Is the subdivision method legal? Or illegal?
Answer: That’s subject to interpretation.
Ra: You heard Brian, you can hear from the developer tomorrow night at the ANC meeting.
Brian: Holland & Knight are their attorneys. They are treating subdivision like it’s normal and done all the time. It’s a merger of the two properties. This is rare to do it this way. There’s not really case law on something like this– it hasn’t been tested.
Kathy: That’s the point that bothers me. If it was legal, I would say try to get some concessions. If illegal, or they have tried to do something scummy, then I think we try to fight. All of yellow on the map is Douglas Development.
Brian: Reed street is not a street, it’s an alley. It’s an alley property–like Blagden Alley. It was paved but got narrower when they repaved for The Brookland Press.
Question: Meaningful connection is a very loose term– at the 12th and Franklin condo building, they meaningfully connected with a deck that no one can use. They would provide power and water and then it’s meaningfully connected. They’ll do it after the fact.
(Dan: Note from ANC meeting with Ra: The developers said the standard is governed by 11-309 DCMR. That requires some kind of shared space like a lobby, or a covered, heated, lighted and unrestricted hallway.)
Question: You’ve collected only 30 signatures?
Answer: Yes, we haven’t wanted to show a lot of cards. So we didn’t canvass, trying to keep a low profile. Now we are going public.
Fred: We’ve talked to the Federations, which represent civic association in 40-50 neighborhoods across the city. We talk with them about these issues and how low income housing should be distributed across all 8 wards. It has to be fair, that’s the main thing.
Question: I’m in 5B05–row homes had leaks and problems when the garage when in. Are you prepared for that?
Brian: The community wants every home protected. No way we won’t be affected in some way.
(Dan: We learned at the ANC Meeting with Ra that the developer is offering exterior surveys of surrounding homes, but not interior. They say they are going to augur the piles rather than drive them, which reduces vibration.)
This will continue tomorrow evening.
Dan: Hearing on DC Statehood on Thursday morning. Brookland is hotbed of statehood activism. I brought buttons. Take your button and wear it. Rayburn building at 10 a.m. Get the word out.
Full ANC meeting next Weds Sept 25th, Ra is hosting at Noyes. We will have presentations from Zoning. It’s on their radar. Also DOEE talking about lead abatement. Also Second Chance Act — USAO will be there. The bill would make it easier to get sentences reduced for those who are determined to no longer be a threat of recidivism or to the community. This act builds on an already existing law that allows for this. Not a huge sea change. But prosecutors office for DC is opposed. Nolan, does the CM have a position on this?
Treadway: CM McDuffie is supportive of the act. Had a hearing this spring, next action is markup, which is not yet scheduled.
Dan: An update on our Brookland oral history project: we are working with Brookland Middle School with a group that made film about black men’s social club that operated in Brookland for decades. Short film. That is going to be shown Sunday Oct. 13th at Woodridge Library. The filmmakers will be there and I hope to have a panel discussion to show the film and talk about our history.
An update from CM McDuffie’s office from Nolan Treadway.
Nolan: We have had our first legislative meeting after recess. CM introduced 2 bills. Supporting 10-15 year old businesses with financial support so they are not run out of city. Overhauled CBE program. It’s not working as it should and there’s a proposal to break it out into an independent agency, in charge of overseeing First Source agreements, so that developers have to hire residents. Thank you all who came out to Ward 5 Day on Saturday.
Ra: 5B04 hosting first ever fall tasting of beer, wine, and kombucha Sat 10/5, 4-6 p.m. at JACS Local talent will be playing. Family friendly. 2813 12th St.
Meeting adjourned 8:37 pm.