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The Phyllis Wheatley YWCA is getting a major facelift thanks to the partnership between the District of Columbia Housing Authority, the District government, and seven other community partners.

The $17-million renovation will preserve 84 supportive and affordable units for low-income women in the District and was celebrated at a wallbreaking ceremony on November 6. Some 54 units will get kitchenettes and full bathrooms to allow for more independent living. Several sustainable energy measures also will be added, such solar panels on the roof.

After knocking down a small brick wall next to the building on Rhode Island Avenue and 9th Street in Northwest, Mayor Muriel Bowser said it was a great pleasure to be able to preserve transitional, affordable housing in the Shaw neighborhood, “a beautiful, storied community.”

“Anything worth having is worth fighting for and if it was easy it would have happened a long time ago,” said Bowser, commenting on the two years it took to finance the renovation. “Let’s build a city we are proud of that serves all the people of Washington, D.C.”

DCHA has made an annual commitment of $781,200 in Local Rent Supplement Program and $401,280 in traditional federal subsidy funding. The combination of federal and local subsidy is the first time this financing structure has been used in the entire country, DCHA Executive Director Adrianne Todman said.

“No matter what comes behind us, this is the first time in this city, in this country, that we’ve been able to master this financing,” Todman said. “My heart is full knowing that with the work we do, you will be able to stay in your home,” she said to the residents.

The project will be used as an example for future projects, several officials said. In some cases the subsidy and energy saving measures will allow rents to decrease for residents.

“It is intentional that the current residents will be able to stay in this ever-changing neighborhood,” Department of Housing and Community Development Executive Director Polly Donaldson said. “It is intentional. It is smart government and that is what this project represents.”

The historic structure was built in 1920 and had smaller improvement projects throughout the years, but this is the first major rehabilitation, said Patricia Plummer, president of Wheatley’s Board of Directors.

“We are in the business of helping women in need and that has not changed for a century,” she said.   

In addition to the wallbreaking at Phyllis Wheatley, the mayor attended five other events to celebrate new structures and services in the District. She broke ground at Archer Park, which will receive $124,560 annually in LRSP funding from DCHA to support 190 affordable units at 13th Street and Mississippi Avenue in Southeast. The mayor cut the ribbon at the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Commons, which will receive $184,752 annually in LRSP funding from DCHA to support 36 affordable units at 5010 Southern Avenue in Southeast. She also celebrated the $17-million expansion of Kenilworth Recreation Center and outdoor pool at 1300 44th Street in Northeast. Two additional events celebrated the opening of new eateries. 

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Last modified: 11/9/2015 11:33:24 AM