RELEASE: Park Morton residents and affordable housing supporters call on Court to allow stalled mixed-income housing development at old school site


May 9, 2018

Cheryl Cort, Coalition for Smarter Growth
T. 202-251-7516,
Danielle Burs, DC Appleseed
T. 202-289-8007,

Park Morton residents and affordable housing supporters call on Court to allow stalled mixed-income housing development at old school site

Housing supporters including DC Appleseed, the Park Morton Residents Council, and the Coalition for Smarter Growth file amicus brief asking Court to affirm DC Zoning Commission’s decision in favor of Bruce Monroe Planned Unit Development

Washington, DC — On Monday, May 7, a group of affordable housing, community development, and public policy organizations, filed a “friend of the court” or amicus brief to show support for the mixed-income Bruce Monroe Planned Unit Development (PUD), a case stalled at the Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia. The group’s main argument is that the Bruce Monroe PUD, that fronts Georgia Avenue, plays a vital role in achieving the District’s affordable housing goals and revitalizing public housing communities.

“The Bruce Monroe project is about giving the residents of Park Morton access to safe, clean, quality housing; the chance to stay in this community and maintain their networks; and new opportunities to thrive and prosper in Park View for many years to come. We want housing that reflects our best hopes and dreams for our families, and we hope the Court will listen to what we have to say,” said Shonta High, President of the Park Morton Residents Council.

The Bruce Monroe PUD and Park Morton PUD were approved by the DC Zoning Commission in April 2017, but four nearby neighbors of the Bruce Monroe site appealed the decision. While the Park Morton redevelopment plan was not contested, it cannot move forward without the Bruce Monroe site first delivering new replacement homes for many of the current Park Morton residents. The Bruce Monroe site is the second and largest component of the revitalization plan to ensure all Park Morton units are fully replaced.

“The Bruce Monroe Planned Unit Development makes good on a promise to Park Morton residents and uses the ‘build first’ principle to restoring decent homes for our public housing residents without forcing them to leave their community,” said Danielle Burs, DC Appleseed.

The Bruce Monroe PUD would include 273 residential units, including 90 public housing replacement units for the Park Morton public housing complex, located four blocks northeast of the Bruce Monroe site. Park Morton residents will have priority for the public housing units on the Bruce Monroe site.

The remainder of the new homes would consist of about 109 low-income units affordable at 60 percent median family income, and approximately 70 units at market rate. The Bruce Monroe development would consist of an apartment building, a 76-unit affordable senior building, and eight townhouses. The new buildings will better provide for a changing community’s needs by providing 1, 2, and 3 bedroom units, in contrast to current Park Morton units which are all 2 bedrooms. Bruce Monroe was a school site until the building was demolished in 2009, and has served as a park as an interim use. The plan for the site would create a permanent one-acre park alongside the new buildings. The Bruce Monroe plan demonstrates that PUDs can be a powerful tool to promote affordable housing.

“This case is about ensuring we can use the zoning tools we have to help our city preserve the diversity of our neighborhoods in the face of so much change. The Petworth and Park View neighborhoods are in high demand, with housing prices soaring, but few new homes have been built. The Bruce Monroe and Park Morton development plans are securing a place for many of our long-time and low-income residents,” said Cheryl Cort, Coalition for Smarter Growth.

To date, 4,593 homes in the District of Columbia, including 706 dedicated affordable homes, have been stalled by lawsuits appealing approved PUDs. On Monday, another 199-home PUD in DC’s middle-class Shepherd Park neighborhood was dropped after it was appealed and will open instead as a single story retail store. Thirty-three of the units were to be affordable. Days before, another PUD in the affluent Tenleytown neighborhood was appealed. It was to provide 146 units. Fifteen of these would be affordable at the 60 percent area median income level.

These groups hope that the amicus brief will serve as a voice in support of the Bruce Monroe PUD and the use of PUDs in creating affordable housing in the District. At this time, a decision on the Bruce Monroe case at the District of Columbia Court of Appeals has no set timeline.

About the Coalition for Smarter Growth: The Coalition for Smarter Growth is the leading organization in the Washington DC region dedicated to making the case for smart growth. Its 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. Learn more at

About DC Appleseed: DC Appleseed has worked for over 20 years to make the National Capital Area a better place to live and work. DC Appleseed’s projects involve working with broad coalitions, researching best practices, issuing reports, participating in regulatory proceedings, bringing lawsuits, managing public education campaigns, meeting with, and testifying before governmental decision-makers. The ultimate goal of all our projects is to do whatever is needed to achieve real, tangible improvements in the National Capital Area. Learn more at