Expert Report Contradicts Mid-City’s Public Statements Regarding Displacement Ahead of Brookland Manor Redevelopment

By Morgan Artyukhina

The intersection of 14th & Saratoga Aves NE at Brookland Manor in Washington, D.C. Photo Credit: LinkUp

The intersection of 14th & Saratoga Aves NE at Brookland Manor in Washington, D.C. Photo Credit: LinkUp

Demographic analysis revealed in a recent court filing indicates that developer Mid-City Financial has misled residents and the wider public about family displacement from the Brookland Manor property in Northeast Washington, D.C. ahead of the planned “RIA” development project. According to the numbers, the project will fail to ensure that all existing residents can remain in the community.

“In all cases, the number of families that require three-bedroom apartments or larger significantly exceeds the number of such apartments likely to be available at Brookland Manor if the current redevelopment plan proceeds as submitted to the D.C. Zoning Commission,” according to the Expert Report of Andrew A. Beveridge, PhD.

“Based on relevant United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) and D.C. Housing Authority (“DCHA”) occupancy standards, 130 of the 193 families currently residing at Brookland Manor Apartments require a three-bedroom apartment or larger, and 68 such families require a four-bedroom apartment or larger,” Beveridge told the court. “Even if one considers just the minor children, household head (and partner) and live-in aides, 104 of the 193 of such families require a three bedroom apartment or larger, and 41 require at least a four-bedroom apartment.”

Beveridge’s conclusions disprove claims made by the D.C. Zoning Commission, proving the board rubber-stamped MidCity’s proposal either without proper analysis of the effects on Brookland Manor residents or without regard for those effects in their conclusions.

When the D.C. Zoning Commission gave its second-stage approval for the project in 2017, it wrote that MidCity had “convincingly demonstrated that at this phase of the redevelopment there are a sufficient number of units to meet this commitment.”

Further, the Zoning Commission concluded that it did “not believe that any displacement will occur,” but that “if it does, the Commission finds that it is acceptable given the quality of the public benefits of the Project.”

It is notable that despite ample evidence at the time, and evidence that continues to emerge about the inevitable displacement of residents and families that must take place ahead of MidCity’s redevelopment, the Zoning Commission still reached the conclusion that it will be a ‘community benefit.’

Beveridge further noted that “families would be much more likely to be adversely affected by the planned redevelopment of Brookland Manor” explaining that “over two-thirds of the family households at Brookland Manor would be adversely affected by the reduction in larger-sized apartments.”

“The families who will be disproportionately displaced by the proposed redevelopment will face difficulty in finding adequate, affordable replacement housing in the vicinity of Brookland Manor and will likely be forced to seek housing outside of the Brentwood neighborhood and the D.C. ward in which they currently reside,” Beveridge said, noting the city’s affordable housing voucher waitlist is “expected to last decades,” and concluding that “the burden of being displaced from housing at Brookland Manor will be significant.”

A city study published in July and requested by D.C. Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie noted the chronic shortage of affordable family housing in the city, especially in Ward 5. At that time, organizers noted that McDuffie has continued his support of MidCity’s redevelopment plan despite evidence of harm to families. Meanwhile, Mayor Muriel Bowser’s proposed plan to expand affordable family housing in the city is so tepid that it won’t even address expected increases in housing demand by the 2025 project end date, much less the voucher waiting list that has over 40,000 families on it and counting.

Jamie Weinbaum, MidCity’s executive vice president and RIA project lead, as well as the former director of D.C.’s Office of Zoning, which oversees the Zoning Commission, told the Washington City Paper last November that resident concerns were just “old tropes.”

“Frankly, there are always concerns that come with development, [like] gentrification and displacement,” he said. “For whatever reason, this project became an example [when people] talk about gentrification and displacement.”

The evidence is irrefutable, and just the latest vindication of Brookland Manor/Brentwood Village Residents Association’s long-held claims: that MidCity’s proposed redevelopment will fall far short of addressing the needs and demands of area residents and will cause great hardship, including displacement, to dozens of families and hundreds of residents.

Community signatories of a growing petition have demanded that McDuffie and Mayor Bowser publicly oppose the Zoning Commission’s decision and make clear to the Zoning Commission that this project is not considered to be in the public interest of D.C. residents.

Brookland Manor tenants and their attorneys will argue their case before the D.C. Court of Appeals on Thursday, September 26, 2019. On that day, residents and supporters plan to rally at 8:00 a.m. outside of the court building and ahead of the oral arguments, which are scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. in Courtroom 1.

Given that facts proving displacement to be the result of MidCity’s and the Zoning Commission’s agreed upon redevelopment plan, it is time for Bowser and McDuffie to act in the interest of their constituents and the entire D.C. public.

Yasmina Mrabet