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February 23, 2015 / Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

A new report on public land and affordable housing in the region

The Urban Land Institute has a new report titled, “Public Land & Affordable Housing in the Washington, DC Region,” prepared by the Center for Housing Policy at the National Housing Conference. Including case studies in Maryland, Virginia and D.C., the report offers best practices and recommendations for meeting the housing needs of lower-income residents. (ULI, 2/2015)

Across the country and in the Washington, DC region, local jurisdictions have identified opportunities for using public land for affordable housing and other public goods on many different types of sites, exploring the potential of not just vacant publicly held lots but also under-utilized sites, parcels where existing public facilities are no longer needed, and as part of the development of new public facilities such as community centers, libraries, fire stations, and police stations.

Both communities and developers accrue multiple benefits when they form partnerships to provide affordable and mixed-income housing on public land. Discounted public land provides a valuable subsidy that can enable deeper levels of affordability in higher-cost development areas and in higher-cost building types than otherwise financially feasible. Public land development opportunities can also facilitate the development of affordable housing in transit-accessible, amenity-rich locations. And the joint development of public facilities and housing properties can lead to infrastructure cost savings, better design, and more accessible public services.

WRAG vice president and Affordable Housing Action Team member, Gretchen Greiner-Lott had this to say about the report,

This latest report from ULI, focused on our region, provides solid recommendations for using public land to provide more affordable housing. Our local governments, developers, advocates, and communities should all review this information to better understand how using public land for affordable housing benefits us all – and to better understand the important roles they each play in making public land available for affordable housing.

The “Gentrification Myth” Myth (WCP, 2/20)

– Have you heard about Get on the Map, yet? WRAG president Tamara Copeland shares why WRAG members should share their data to help strengthen philanthropy in our region. (Daily, 2/23)

– The Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers has released a new funder brief, “Investing in Justice,” which seeks to increase awareness and understanding of the value of civil legal aid among the members of Maryland’s philanthropic community. (ABAG, 2/2015)

–  Map: Where D.C.’s Homeless Children Go to School (WCP, 2/20)

– As homelessness continues to be a troubling issue in the city, WAMU takes an insightful look at the many faces of the crisis – advocates, officials, and those without a place to call home. (WAMU, 2/20)

– On Thursday, February 26th at 2:00 PM, the Council on Foundations and Mission Investors Exchange will present their first Twitter chat on impact investing addressing questions around getting started, investing in social entrepreneurship, and the debates around pay for success. To add your name to the participant list in advance, you can send a direct message to @missioninvest, or participate next Thursday by using the hashtag #impinv.

– On Wednesday, March 4th at 10:00 AM, The Aspen Forum for Community Solutions will have a discussion with Alan Jenkins, executive director at The Opportunity Agenda, and Jeff Parcher, director of communications at the Center for Community Change, about their research on how the public views poverty and opportunity in America. To register, click here.

COMMUNITY | Raise DC, an education program that sits at The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, has launched a brand new website that will detail Raise DC’s work and impacts in the District with the most up-to-date data, news, and projects related to their work.

ICYMI | Last night’s Oscar ceremony was about much more than just entertainment. Many of the honorees also touched on important issues that made people think, including the gender wage gap, mass incarceration, and suicide among veterans. (WaPo, 2/23, Vox, 2/23, and WaPo, 2/20)

Pretty soon we won’t have to feel quite as bad about eating chocolate bars.

– Ciara


  1. Fairfax City Citizens / Feb 23 2015 3:52 pm

    The Coalition for Smarter Growth deserves credit for stimulating the discussion about using public land for affordable housing. Along with their ongoing advocacy on this issue, they published the 2012 report Public Land for Public Good, on the District of Columbia’s use of public lands to build affordable housing and mixed-use, mixed-income communities. CSG’s funders should be aware that their investments have contributed to this issue being in the public and policy conversation.

  2. Alane Colter / Mar 9 2015 9:34 am

    I would say no for two reasons Dargan

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