07 Nov 2017


Saying YES to Community-Building and Supporting Neighbors

Capitol Hill has long been a community that cares about it citizens and neighbors.

In 1937, the Eastern Branch Boys and Girls Club (261 17th St. SE) opened to create a space that
provided social and recreational activities, life skills, and wellness for boys and girls in the community.
Today, we have the opportunity to resurrect that same 31,000 square foot facility into another gift
to the neighborhood: a senior cohousing community. The children of the 1930s are now our elders,
having led our community, served our country, and built our society. It is perfectly fitting that they can
benefit again from a space designed to serve their needs and foster their well-being.

The cohousing concept is a community of private homes clustered around shared space with
the intention of building a collaborative living environment with shared goals. Each home has
traditional amenities, including a private kitchen and bath. The larger community has shared spaces
typically featuring a social space, which may include a large kitchen and dining area, and recreational
spaces. Shared outdoor space may include parking, walkways, open space, and gardens. Neighbors also
share resources like cars, tools and other features.

Households have independent incomes and private lives, but neighbors collaboratively plan and
manage community activities and shared spaces. Neighbors gather for parties, games, movies, or other
events. Cohousing makes it easy to form clubs, organize care, and carpool.

Joel Kelty and Century Development have put forward an excellent proposal to turn the Eastern
Branch Boys and Girls Club, which has been closed for 10 years, into a state-of- the art cohousing facility
that the seniors on Capitol Hill need and deserve. The facility will include housing options for low- and
moderate-income seniors, with 29 condominiums as well as community space for shared activities,
fitness and recreation. The residents themselves will determine the uses of community space as
well as the shared community activities. The proposal also includes two caregiver suites for those who
need ongoing support. The proposal includes ADA-compliant and universal design so that seniors with
changing mobility need can live safely in the space.

After a period of stagnation, now there are a number of new housing options available on the
Hill. Indeed, we are one of the fastest growing neighborhoods in DC– and along the Eastern Seaboard. A senior cohousing
facility will be a welcome addition to the options and provide something for older residents that have
dedicated much of their lives to ensuring that Capitol Hill is the fine community that we all enjoy today.

To learn more and voice your support attend one of two upcoming meetings:

On November 14 at 7 p.m., ANC6B will hear the recommendation of the ANC6B Planning and Zoning Commission. The meeting takes place at The Hill Center (921 Pennsylvania Avenue SE).

On November 16 at 7 p.m., the DC Deputy Mayor of Planning and Economic Development hears community views at St. Coletta’s School (1901 Independence Avenue SE).

Molly Singer is the Executive Director of Capitol Hill Village, a community organization dedicated to seniors aging in community.

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