Affordable housing proposal divides residents in affluent DC neighborhood

There’s a plan to bring affordable housing to one of D.C.’s most affluent neighborhoods.

Many in the Chevy Chase community are open to the idea — but hundreds of others have signed a petition in opposition. 

"I think it’s a mixed bag to be honest with you," said ANC Commissioner Lisa Gore. 

Chevy Chase community in Northwest, D.C. 

"I have mixed feelings about it. It’s too bad to see the neighborhood changing," said D.C. resident Nicholas Brandes. 

Others are on board with the proposal. 

"I welcome affordable housing, definitely," said Sarah McNamer. 

Chevy Chase Community Center in Northwest, D.C. 

Adding affordable housing to the Chevy Chase Community Center off of Connecticut Avenue is part of Mayor Muriel Bowser's overall plan to increase affordable housing throughout the city by 2025. 

Glore is working closely on the redevelopment plans for the site which consists of a community center, library, playground, and basketball courts. 

"I do think a majority of the community wants affordable housing. We do have pockets of our community that don’t want any redevelopment at that site," she adds. 


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There’s a petition with over 650 signatures, started by the group Chevy Chase Voice, where signees are saying "no" to development at the community center. 

On their website, they state they want to "maintain the civic, educational, recreational, and public use" of the space. 

The design of the proposed housing unit is another major concern. 

"A lot of proposals call for really tall buildings which block the sun," McNamer said.

Instead of adding housing, they are calling for upgrades and renovations to what already exists. 

Those who are for affordable housing want to make sure it’s truly affordable and not luxury condos. 

"I appreciate proposals that call for a non-profit developer. That seems really important to me because of the profit motive and distorting things," McNamer said. 

Commissioner Gore says it’s time for the Chevy Chase community to "open up." 

"There are undertones that people deem and see that race and class may play a role in this," she said.

Longtime resident Carl Lankowski says there will always be contention when it comes to development in communities, but it's time for Chevy Chase to be more than just yard signs and put actual action behind those words.

 "If you want to make a statement that we are a welcoming community, and we want to say that but show it by creating the possibility for people from wherever they are in the city, if they want to live here, to be able to do so," Lankowski said.