Neoliberalism and DC's Capitol Hill, where residents continue to express opposition to a proposed affordable housing project for seniors
However, while Marxism is great for understanding the motivations of capital, its proscriptions for change don't work so well, and in any case, the system of capitalism is not likely to be overthrown any time soon.
But sometimes, the actions of citizens in throes to capitalism, and to neoliberalism, which is focused on the privatization of government action and property make me even more sympathetic to the Marxist position, although my "pro"-development approach likely brands me a conservative by many even though I term myself a progressive.
This comes up in Capitol Hill, where for some reason residents including their representatives on the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission, prefer that a city-owned property be converted to market rate housing, instead of being redeveloped as a senior housing building offering less than market rate rents.
I wrote about this before ("Senior housing needs vs. "the market" and government involvement: Part 2 - Capitol Hill and ANC6B's opposition to senior housing"). But it comes up again as Capitol Hill Corner reports on the latest developments ("Hill East Neighborhood Coalition Pushes to Reopen Bidding on Boys and Girls Club").
Former Eastern Branch, Boys and Girls Club, located at 261 17th St. SE. This property came under city control when the Boys and Girls Club organization downsized and sold many of their properties. The city stepped in and acquired them. Photo from Google Maps.
They criticize the senior housing project as "requiring subsidies," implying the funds would come from local government funding sources, but instead the monies would come from the use of federal tax credits, with no impact on the local budget.
And they argue against the project because the local senior aging in place initiative, Capitol Hill Village, isn't a proponent.
The proposed apartment building would offer single floor living and an elevator-served building, as opposed to multi-story rowhouse living and/or having to go up stairs to enter the building.
Note that the Vida Senior Residences building on Missouri Avenue NW in Ward 4 is a project very similar to the one proposed for Capitol Hill. See "With Vida Senior Residences, abuelitos get a new lease on their golden years," Washington Post.
This webpage describes the complicated financing required in raising $8.6 million to construct the building, which is operated by a local senior service organization. Such complications are pretty typical for a non-market rate housing development.
Vida Senior Residences has 36 furnished studio apartments, and rents range from about $290 to $850 per month, depending on income, and significantly below market rate for new housing.
By contrast, at the new Station House apartment building, studios start at $1,710 per month, although the building is in a better and more connected location, and has skee ball among other amenities.
1. Capitol Hill isn't suffering from the lack of market rate housing. According to the Neighborhood Info website, ANC6B, where the site is located, has 9.680 housing units as of the 2010 Census and a home ownership rate of 55%, and the median sales price (half above/half below) for a house is $670,000 as of 2013.
Although it should be noted that there are a number of public housing projects in the ANC6B geography, more likely than any other ANC with similar high income demographics.
2. The Aging in Place initiative by Capitol Hill Village is not the only way to support senior living options. In fact it can be argued that such initiatives also encourage "overhousing" and underutilization of scarce housing resources, and economic stagnation within local commercial districts ("It's impolitic to say but no property taxes for older senior citizens is a bad idea").
3. Offering subsidized rents expands to lower income demographics the ability to live in quality neighborhoods.
4. The proposed project in Hill East is also in line with the various city policy objectives concerning the expansion of affordable housing.