Sondra Phillips-Gilbert is a second term commissioner for the Rosedale Community,
A new housing developments being built in Northeast, D.C. is raising concerns for members of the community, according an advisory neighborhood commissioner for Ward 6.
Sondra Phillips-Gilbert is a second term commissioner for the Rosedale community that is located east of the H Street Corridor and northeast of Capitol Hill.
“The fear of the community is we are being pushed out,” she told the AFRO, explaining that new construction in the community, specifically the Benning Road apartment building that will take the place of Trinidad Baptist Church, will displace several residents. “A lot of people are going to be uprooted.”
According to Phillips-Gilbert, Trinidad Baptist Church, which is across the street from Hechinger Mall, sold the building and now Valor Development is building a 10-story apartment complex in its place.
The development date is scheduled for 2018 for what Valor Development has named The Valvaere. According to the company’s website, the Benning Road building will have 285 units.
The major concern for current residents is whether the new development will include affordable housing that can apply with their budgets. The subsidized housing being offered is too expensive for current neighbors, according to Phillips-Gilbert, who said many low income people will be forced to move because they won’t be able to afford to live in the area anymore.
She said she met with the developers at multiple ANC meetings, and asked if Valor Development would consider reducing the cost so current community members could afford to live at Valvaere.
According to Felipe Serpa, a development manager from Valor Development, the company bases their rates off of the affordable housing numbers that the city council produces and regulates.
Out of the projected 285 units, Serpa told the AFRO April 18 that they plan to make 20 to 23 units inclusionary zoning, which is based off of the area’s median income that is used to calculate subsidiary rents for future occupants.
As of now, people making less than half of the area’s median income would have to pay $1,024 for a one bedroom unit and $1,229 for a two bedroom unit. Future occupants making around 80 percent of the area’s median income would have to pay $1,638 for a one bedroom unit and would pay $1,966 for a two bedroom, according to city guidelines.
Serpa said the prices are subject to change because the company is three years out from actual developing the residence. The remaining units will be priced at market rent, he said.
“The truth of the matter is development is going on all over the city,” Phillips-Gilbert said. “The areas where you find a lot of low income people are gold mines for developers.”
“Money talks andpeople look up and they don’t have homes,” she said. Philips-Gilbert said a solution to the problem would be for the government to create laws that lower the affordable housing rates and ensure that businesses and developers follow the rates appropriately.
“Somebody has to lookout for the little person because a lot of times no one cares about the poor,” she said.