By Micha Green, AFRO Washington, D.C. Editor,

As gentrification continues in the District, a new affordable housing complex is offering units to a very specific kind of family- grandfamilies- households headed by grandparents rearing grandchildren.

Located in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood of Northwest, D.C., Plaza West is the first of its kind in the area as 50 of its 223 units are reserved for grandparents who are raising their grandkids and making within 30 and 40 percent of the median income (AMI).  Plaza West also has 11 units reserved for clients of the Department of Behavioral Health. The other 162 units are reserved for families, not necessarily grandfamilies, making between 50 and 60 percent of AMI.

Plaza West in Washington, D.C. caters to grandfamiles. (Courtesy photo)

According to DCist, the development has been in the works for years since the city transferred the land to Gold Rule Plaza, a non-profit affiliate of Bible Way Church.  The idea of supporting grandfamilies has roots in a facility in New York, Washington City Paper reported.

The 12-story complex boasts 9,500 square feet out of outside recreational space, a fitness room, library and community room the Mayor’s office wrote in a press release.

“As our city continues to grow and age, we’re committed to making investments in innovative programs—in housing, education, childcare, and more—that will set more families up for success,” said Mayor Bowser in the press release. “Plaza West is an example of how we are ensuring residents and families of all backgrounds and income levels have access to safe and affordable places to live across all eight wards.”

Each grandfamily unit will have two or three bedrooms with their own entrance at 1035 4th Street NW, according to Columbus Property Management. The other entrance of the property is on 307 K Street NW.

There are about 1,000 grandfamilies in the District in need of subsidized housing The Washington Post reports and about 2.7 million in the world according to Brandon Gaille.  One of the reasons for the rising number of grandfamilies is the opioid epidemic.  Nationwide, over 40 percent of children being cared for by a grandparent are there because at least one parent struggles with substance abuse, Brandon Gaille reported.

City Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6) explained why he hoped Plaza West would assist in bolstering the community.

“This is a neighborhood that is going through a lot of change,” Allen said. “If we want to be the type of city we want to be proud of, it takes an active intentionality…This is the type of housing that helps us deliver on and grow the type of city we all support,” Washington City Paper reported.

Micha Green

AFRO Washington, D.C. Editor