Righteous Real Estate

Flickr: ONE DC

Lydia DePillis of the City Paper writes about a new source for affordable housing in the District– churches. DePillis visited one house of worship, the Temple of Praise, an interdenominational megachurch that Mayor-for-life Marion Barry attends; the Temple has big plans for Ward 8. The church is so popular, it has outgrown the huge building it built just eight years ago; now it wants to construct something larger and transform the current Temple into a charter school. Beyond that, the ambitious church wants to develop affordable housing on its property.

And Bishop Glen Staples isn’t stopping there. He’s working on building a medical clinic, and wants to construct senior housing and a new community center, as well as a credit union, local retail, and restaurants—which neither the market nor the government have brought to that part of Ward 8 (even the local McDonald’s is vacant).

“There’s nothing here,” says Staples, taking a break in his dark wood and leather-trimmed inner sanctum, while the noon service thunders outside. “I don’t know if politicians are able to do anything, if they want to do anything, I don’t know, but I do know nothing’s been done. So it’s incumbent on us to try to do something.”

“Re-knitting an urban fabric” might be just what this city needs:

The particularly important thing here: These are the kinds of building projects many neighborhoods either grumble about or reject altogether. A church’s willingness to put them in its own neighborhood demonstrates a confidence in its ability to be a positive and stabilizing influence, re-knitting an urban fabric shredded by drugs and crime, in places where private capital would never voluntarily go.

  • Anonymous

    It is the good topic for discussion. We must do fight against our human rights to housing. If we know about our rights than no one can do fraud with us.

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    Yea is definitely hard to get private capital to put up money in those areas. Nobody wants to loose money though.