Testimony in support for NHP Elm Gardens

April 4, 2023

Mr. Chairman Hood
Chairman, DC Zoning Commission
441 4th Street, NW, Suite 200S
Washington, DC 20001

RE: SUPPORT for CASE NO. 22-33 (THE NHP FOUNDATION and ELM GARDENS OWNERS, LLC-Zoning Map Amendment @ 7050 Eastern Avenue, N.W. (Square 3351, Lot 813))

Dear Chairman Hood: 

Please accept this letter on behalf of the Coalition for Smarter Growth (CSG). CSG is the leading non-profit organization in the Washington, D.C. region dedicated to making the case for smart growth. Our mission is to promote walkable, inclusive, and transit-oriented communities, and the land use and transportation policies and investments needed to make those communities flourish. 

We wish to express our strong support for Case No. 22-33. We are excited to support this rezoning to facilitate the redevelopment of a 36-unit rental apartment building into a new, 100%  affordable 110-unit building. The rezoning appropriately permits the construction of a modestly larger building, fulfilling guidance of the Comp Plan to focus more activity around Metro stations. This project is possible due to the TOPA rights exercised by the Elm Gardens Tenants Association, Inc. which is partnering with the NHP Foundation to rezone and rebuild a modern, energy-efficient, affordable apartment building steps away from the Takoma Metro station. 

The Elm Gardens Tenants Association has agreed to a temporary off-site relocation plan during construction. This supports the Comp Plan’s goals to minimize displacement of existing tenants. The project prevents the displacement of the current residents, while also benefiting low income DC residents by nearly tripling the number of homes located at the site. These additional affordable homes help reduce the Ward 4 deficit and advance the Comp Plan’s housing equity goal to create 1,580 dedicated affordable homes by 2025 for Rock Creek East. Additional affordable housing in this prime location — next to a Metro station and major bus hub, close to shops, services, jobs, and other amenities — also advances racial equity by making a neighborhood with rising housing prices more accessible to low income households. A large share of DC’s low income households are Black and other people of color and face high housing cost burdens. Thus increased access to affordable housing in this accessible location advances the Comp Plan racial equity goals. 

We are also encouraged to see the implementation of IZ plus requirements, which requires a 20% set aside with near full utilization of the added density from the rezoning. The apartment building of 110 Units would yield 22 IZ Units and 88 market rate at minimum. However, in this case, the non-profit NHTF and Elm Gardens Tenants Association will provide 100% affordable homes, far exceeding regular IZ and IZ plus requirements. 

This site is ideal for increased housing opportunities given its proximity to major transit lines, and walk/bicycle access to local services. This location offers households the opportunity to save on transportation costs by owning fewer or no car, and still enjoy robust access to employment, education, and daily needs. Transportation costs are second only to housing costs, so enabling more households to avoid the burdensome costs of vehicle ownership, and have easy access to major transit lines, bicycle facilities, and local services provides substantial savings. Allowing more people to live in walk/bike-friendly, and transit-accessible locations also reduces the carbon footprint of DC’s population.

Thank you for your consideration. 


Cheryl Cort
Policy Director