An Innovative, Community-Oriented Approach to Address Affordable Workforce Housing Needs in the Washington DC Region

WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 24, 2019) — Rising rents and a shortage of affordable, well-located housing has put increased pressure on working Washingtonians. As the region prospers, it is critical that all members of the community are able to benefit from its growth. With a vision of increasing shared prosperity and combating displacement through the preservation and creation of workforce housing opportunities, the Washington Housing Conservancy is pleased to announce its official launch with the appointment of its inaugural board and a total of $12.5 million in secured donations.

The Washington Housing Conservancy (WHC) is part of the larger Washington Housing Initiative (WHI), launched last year by the Federal City Council and JBG SMITH. The Washington Housing Conservancy is an independent non-profit corporation whose mission is to preserve and create affordable workforce housing in economically integrated communities. WHC will work with community members, local non-profits, civic organizations, service providers, and governmental agencies to foster dynamic and connected communities responsive to the needs of working families across the Washington region.

“There are several organizations and providers working in the Washington, DC region to address specific issues facing struggling working families and individuals,” said Josh Bernstein, President and CEO of Bernstein Management Company and Chair of the Stakeholder Council that will advise the Washington Housing Conservancy. “Through the Washington Housing Conservancy, we hope to collaborate with many of these extraordinary individuals and organizations to allow residents to access needed services and amenities within their own neighborhoods.”

Washington families need to earn more than $100,000 to afford the average two-bedroom apartment. Increasingly, there is not enough housing for working families – especially in neighborhoods that provide essentials such as transportation, child care, healthcare, and healthy food. The Washington Housing Conservancy’s goal is to leverage private dollars in a new way so that those earning too much for subsidized housing but too little for much of the region’s housing can afford to remain a part of the communities they serve.

“The DC region has seen tremendous change over the years, with the pace and cost of development only continuing to accelerate. It is essential to create opportunities in rapidly changing areas that enable workers to remain in historic communities that allow them proximity to their workplace,” said Charlene Drew Jarvis, Emerita member of the Federal City Council and board member of the Washington Housing Conservancy. “Through the Washington Housing Conservancy, we hope to create connected communities among residents both within the Conservancy’s properties and in the surrounding neighborhood that not only respond to working people’s needs, but foster relationships and partnerships between people of different economic and racial background against the evolving backdrop of Washington, DC.”

The Washington Housing Conservancy has raised $12.5 million to date in commitments from foundations, individual donors, and corporate partners. This represents more than 40 percent of the initial fundraising target of $30 million, which would allow the WHC to maintain affordability for 3,000 housing units on a long-term basis with no requirement for ongoing subsidies.

Through the Washington Housing Conservancy’s unique model, $9 of private capital can be leveraged for every $1 of philanthropic capital. Each dollar contributed to WHC generates between $20 and $40 in impact over 40 years

“We want to create workforce housing communities that are more than just building complexes,” said Kevin Clinton, COO of Federal City Council, a non-profit comprising the area’s top business, professional, educational and civic leaders, and Interim Executive Director of the Washington Housing Conservancy. “We plan to partner with local organizations to bring quality childcare, health care as well as education and wellness resources as integrated parts of the housing community.”

The Washington Housing Conservancy’s board is he inaugural board includes:

  • Anthony A. Williams, chair of the WHC board, former mayor of Washington, DC, and current CEO and Executive Director of the Federal City Council
  • Josh Bernstein, President and CEO, Bernstein Management Company
  • Charlene Drew Jarvis, Emerita member, Federal City Council
  • Kevin Clinton, COO, Federal City Council
  • Cary Hatch, CEO, MDB Communications
  • Carol Thompson Cole, President & CEO, Venture Philanthropy Partners
  • Tamara Copeland, Former President, Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers
  • Mark Katz, Chair, Arent Fox
  • Rob Stewart, Executive Vice Chairman, JBG SMITH Properties
  • John Gardner, Former President, Buvermo Investments, Inc.

For more information on the Washington Housing Conservancy, please visit the newly launched website at www.washingtonhousingconservancy.org.