Covid and Residential Development

Correction (2/18/21): MidCity’s RIA project would preserve 373 low-income units via section-8 funding (wrong number is mentioned at one point in the broadcast; apologies for not catching error on air.)

Update at 1 p.m. 2/17/21 with recording. Additional resources and links added 2/18/21.

Displacement from housing and community is a life-and-death issue, especially during our current health crisis. This week on “Community thru Covid,” we look at some residential housing plans poised to reduce the number of affordable family-sized housing units available in DC, thus contributing to push-out. We are joined by Cheryl Brunson, treasurer of the Brookland Manor Brentwood Village Residents’ Association, and Beth Wagner, an organizer with the Brookland Manor Coalition. Brookland Manor Coalition.

Brookland Manor and Loss of Family-Size Housing

Brentwood Village/Brookland Manor is one of the last neighborhoods in DC with 3-, 4-, and 5-bedroom affordable housing units. Brookland Manor is owned by private developer MidCity Financial, which plans to increase the density by 300% and, in the process, remove much of the family-sized affordable housing. Again, please note that correct number of proposed low-income-supporting units is 373. The Zoning Case is under appeal; here is the 2015 ruling with details of the project (PDF).

A study commissioned for DC in 2019 found that family-sized affordable housing is a great, scarce need. More details and report at Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development. Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie’s statement about the report. According to this week’s guests, McDuffie has since sided with MidCity on this project and refused to hear constituent concerns; no response from query to the Councilmember’s office.

Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs Fact Sheet (2016); City Paper story (2018); Street Sense Report (2019); legal update from Washington Business Journal (2020). See also MidCity’s website and DC101’s January episode on housing, which includes a segment on this project and its importance (segment on Brookland Manor begins around the 21 minute mark). Visit Brookland Manor Coalition to learn more and get involved.

SW Action and Cotton Annex

Also this week: Affordable housing and the Douglas Development’s “Cotton Annex” project in Southwest. The planned project, which requires Zoning Commission approval for higher density in a historical building, is to include 615 apartments, only 8% (50-60 units) of which are to be “affordable” (at 60% DC AMI, or annual income of $75,000), with none deeply affordable.

Here’s the ZC case. Hill Rag reported that ANC 6D pushed back on the lack of affordable housing at its February meeting, postponing a vote in hope of coming to an agreement with the developer. The next ANC 6D meeting is March 8 on Webex; visit for details.

Zoning Commission hearing is scheduled for March 18 at 4 p.m. via YouTube

SW Action is calling for affordable housing at one-third deeply affordable (0-30% AMI), one-third workforce, and one-third market rate. SW Action encourages testimony at the March 18 hearing and will assist in that process; contact swdcaction at

For more on this planned development: As of 2/17/21, this project is not included among “properties” on Douglas Development‘s website; SW neighborhood blog (2017), one of the few reports with picture; Washington Business Journal update (2021).

New segments this week:

“Pandemics and Economics in History” (early in the show and linked here), full podcast and transcript, plus references; and

“Expanding Horizons in the time of Covid” (late in the show, separate link).

Plus Covid update, also coming soon separately.

See also “WETA’s Case Studies in Displacement

Community thru Covid airs weekly on Wednesdays. Listen live on We Act Radio audio or watch on Facebook Live at 11 a.m. EASTERN or check back for recording, posted shortly after air time,


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