Maycroft Apartments “Resiliency Room” in Affordable Housing Complex in Washington, DC
A non-profit affordable housing developer, Jubilee Housing, is working to incorporate a “resiliency room” and increase affordable housing by renovating the historic Maycroft Apartments in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of Washington, D.C. – an area of the District that has been experiencing rapid gentrification. The project will provide affordable housing and will renovate the complex's basement into a resiliency room to provide both emergency and everyday services for residents. A 70.2 kilowatt (kW) rooftop solar panel array and a backup battery system will provide renewable power for the complex. The battery system will have the ability to island and provide power for three days to enable continued operation of the resiliency room during grid outages due to severe weather or other disruptions. During power outages, the resiliency room will provide access to refrigeration, power to charge devices, and telecommunications. Steady-state services will include a family resource center, teenage after-school and early childhood education programs, a mobile food truck to provide meals for the homeless, and a market for families to access healthy food at no additional cost.
By combining a resiliency room with affordable housing, the project will help to deliver resilience benefits for the District’s most at-risk residents. The Maycroft Apartment renovations will deliver 64 units of deeply affordable housing in close proximity to essential resources such as groceries and transit. All units will be reserved for households who earn 60 percent or less of the Area Median Income (AMI); 41 units will be reserved for families earning less than 30 percent of the AMI (approximately $29,000/year for a family of three); and 15 of the units will be reserved for people leaving chronic homelessness. The basement of the apartment complex will also be renovated to create a resiliency room that will be powered by a solar and back-up battery system that can island during power outages. This will enable to complex to provide services to assist the community in times of severe weather and power outages, including refrigeration for medications, access to telecommunications and emergency response information, lighting, and power for charging devices. The solar power system will also save residents on their energy bills by approximately $20-30 per month. By incorporating the resiliency room in the Maycroft renovations, the project will address the lack of emergency resources for low-income families in the neighborhood.
The project is being led by Jubilee Housing, a faith-based non-profit affordable housing developer, that is renovating the Maycroft Apartments and partnering with several other D.C. entities to establish the resiliency room. Partners include New Partners Community Solar, a D.C. nonprofit working to provide equitable access to the economic benefits of renewable energy, which assisted in the design and pre-development of the solar plus battery system to support the resiliency room and, Potomac Electric Power Company (Pepco), the District’s regulated electric utility. Pepco awarded Jubilee Housing a $65,000 grant to install the emergency battery storage system and provided technical guidance on the design and implementation of the system. Pepco agreed to manage the interconnection between the battery storage and solar systems as a pilot project, which will allow the utility to learn more about these types of systems and facilitate future projects. Jubilee was able to acquire the property by representing a tenants association and by exercising the tenants right to purchase under DC’s Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) when the building owner put the building up for sale. The project was financed through a series of loans from DC's Department of Housing and Community Development including funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's HOME Investment Partnership Program and Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS program; funding was also contributed from the District's Housing Production Trust Fund and the District's Department of Behavioral Health.1
Jubliee’s renovation of the Maycroft Apartment complex will not only provide deeply affordable housing in a central neighborhood in Washington, DC, but will also deliver important resilience benefits to at-risk residents including low-income families and homeless individuals by incorporating a resiliency room and providing other services. The project demonstrates how public-private partnerships can be developed to implement projects that provide multiple benefits to residents, including increasing access to affordable renewable energy, emergency services, healthy foods, and educational and job training programs.
This project also helps to address the affordable housing and displacement crisis happening in one of D.C.’s fastest-gentrifying neighborhoods, Columbia Heights. DC’s Five Year Consolidated Plan for Fostering the Development of Strong, Equitable Neighborhoods Report states that the District faces a shortage of 20,000 affordable housing units, and one in three District children live below the poverty line. The Maycroft project’s focus on deeply affordable housing will deliver housing for the lowest percentiles of income earners in the nation’s capital. Whereas most federal housing policies focus on households with individuals earning 60 percent of area median income (AMI), this threshold does not address the housing needs of the lowest-income residents (those earning 30 percent AMI or less) who struggle to find affordable housing, particularly in high housing cost and rapidly gentrifying cities like Washington, DC. These types of projects that deliver both affordable housing as well as critical services will help to enhance the resilience of individuals and families facing the greatest risks from climate impacts.
The creation of resilience hubs to provide emergency services to low-income residents was highlighted as a recommendation in the District’s resilience plan – Resilient DC. These recommendations acknowledge that the increasing frequency of severe weather threatens to disrupt power systems, which can have significant consequences for public health and safety, particularly for residents with disproportionate vulnerability due to socioeconomic and health factors.
The Maycroft project will also include “steady-state” service offerings for low-income residents and neighbors, including an after-school program for teens, a resource center to support families and career development, and educational and food programs delivered by a non-profit partner, Martha’s Table, including a mobile food truck for homeless individuals, pre-K educational programs, and a food market increasing access to healthy food for residents.
Publication Date: May 2019
- Jubilee Housing
- New Partners Community Solar
- Case study
DC Department of Housing and Community Development