D.C. Mayor Muriel  Bowser Proposes $56 Million TIF for Mid-City Financial, Condemns Brookland Manor Tenants to Displacement and Homelessness

By: Ajoke Williams, Community Organizer

In early October of this year, Mayor Muriel Bowser sent a proposal for Bill 22-986, “Rhode Island Avenue (RIA) Tax Increment Financing Act of 2018” to the D.C. Council, asking the Council to authorize up to $56 million in public financing through a TIF (Tax Increment Financing) to Mid-City Financial, a developer that has waged a brutal displacement and eviction campaign at Brookland Manor. Mid-City is leading the way for rapid gentrification of the Rhode Island Avenue Corridor, as it seeks to reduce affordable housing and build luxury apartments. The stated purpose of the TIF is to offset infrastructure costs (such as improved sewer and water lines, parks and new roads) Mid-City wants for the building of a new community that caters to a wealthier population.

Mid-City plans to rename the Brookland Manor/Brentwood Village neighborhood “RIA”. “RIA” would contain over 1,750 apartments, with only 373 of those units being reserved as affordable housing units. Of those, 200 will be earmarked for seniors only, 62 and older. In public testimony submitted by the Brookland Manor/Brentwood Village Residents Association's Board of Directors for the recent Finance & Revenue Public Hearing on November 14, 2018, they state:

“Our position on this matter is that Mid-City Financial should NOT receive money from the city to build luxury apartments, when they refuse to guarantee affordable housing for current Brookland Manor residents. It is our longstanding demand to protect and preserve the existing number of affordable units and the same bedroom sizes and subsidy levels. Instead of giving Mid-City Financial millions of dollars in public financing to triple density while simultaneously reducing affordable housing and eliminating huge numbers of large bedroom sized units, why isn't the city allocating this money to preserve the rights of working class people and long-time residents to remain in the city?” - Board of Directors, Brookland Manor/Brentwood Village Residents Association

The Residents Association has taken legal action, backed by unanimous votes of their membership, to keep Mid-City’s project at bay as it continues through the city’s zoning approval process.

In a city that faces rampant homelessness and a housing crisis exacerbated by ever increasing rents, it is a travesty that the D.C. government sees no better use of $56 million dollars than shelling it out to multi-million dollar development firms, while many thousands of families are living in the streets.

Rather than condemning long-time D.C. residents and working class people to displacement and homelessness, Mayor Bowser should be seeking to invest in the preservation and expansion of affordable housing stock, in order to safeguard communities with resources and public infrastructure.

Read more and sign the petition through the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless.

Yasmina Mrabet