Three mayors in, major D.C. housing project hasn’t made progress

The Temple Courts affordable housing complex near the Capitol deteriorated throughout years of neglect from the District. In 2004, a brutal murder of a teenager caused former Mayor Anthony Williams to spring into action and create the New Communities Initiative. It was designed to revitalize and stabilize the neighborhood with hundreds of millions of dollars – brand new low-income housing units were to replace the decaying ones. In 2008, the complex was demolished and more than 200 families were temporarily relocated.

Today, three mayoral administrations deep and with the New Communities Initiative’s EOY 2013 deadline approaching, the Temple Courts site is an $8 per hour parking lot. The Post chronicles the project’s history and shocking ineptitude. (WaPo, 7/7)

HOUSING | Rents are dropping in our region – but a report suggests that the decline could just be a “blip on the radar screen.” (WBJ, 7/5) That doesn’t make sense, because radars don’t measure trends. They usually measure incoming torpedoes and UFOs.

NEIGHBORHOODS | The Atlantic reviews a new study that suggests that the lowest-income residents care most about their neighborhoods. (Atlantic, 7/8)

AGING | Long-term nursing home care for Medicaid beneficiaries has seen a gigantic drop in the last 15 years. Forbes points out a few possible reasons:

– State Medicaid programs have been shifting care from nursing facilities to home and community-based settings
– Seniors’ enrollment in Medicaid is growing very slowly even though the overall older population is growing rapidly.
– Nursing homes themselves would rather provide post-acute and rehabilitation services instead of long-stay care.

Related: Last month, we released our newest edition of What Funders Need to Know. It looks at the state of the direct-care workforce in our region. (Daily, June 2013)

COMMUNITY | Martha Toll, executive director of The Butler Family Fund, writes about how the fund’s strategic, collaborative partnerships have had “ripple effects” that “extend far beyond money spent.” (NPC, 7/4)

TRANSIT | If the heat wave hasn’t already done so, this article will probably make your blood boil. Remember the “Phantom Planter” who took it upon himself to spruce up Metro’s long-neglected flower beds at the Dupont Circle Metro? Well, Robert McCartney reports that not only did Metro refuse to care for the plants, but they actually went to the trouble of ripping them out. He writes (WaPo, 7/6):

It turns out I underestimated Metro bureaucrats’ capacity for folly…The transit system regularly pleads poverty, yet employees devoted supposedly valuable time to remove more than 1,000 morning glories, cardinal flowers and cypress vines that Docter donated to the city — albeit without permission.

Over this past weekend, that station entrance had two broken escalators (with the working one inexplicably going down), a broken handicap turnstile, and a sewage leak in the elevator hallway.

Purple Line plans soon could displace businesses, residents (WaPo, 7/8)

HEALTH | The national average for doctors using electronic medical records is a very low 39.6 percent. The District, Maryland, and Virginia all rank well below that average – and D.C. is the worst in the entire country. (Bloomberg, 6/25)

EDUCATION | A Montgomery County Public Schools program that gives developmentally disabled students their own bank accounts – without their parents’ permission – is under fire. In addition to not being transparent, there are tax liabilities in play. Ironically, the program is designed to teach financial accountability. (WaPo, 7/8)

DISTRICT | On the Fourth of July, Robert McCartney profiled DC Vote leader Kim Perry. Despite setbacks and roadblocks, Perry is still optimistic about the District’s chances of eventually being democratically treated like the rest of the country. (WaPo, 7/4)

Hope you all enjoyed the weekend! And I hope it was an extra-long one for everyone. In honor of the anniversary of the Roswell “crash,” here’s a cool news segment about a famous intergalactic WWII battle you might not know about – the Battle of Los Angeles. Also, feel free to sing along with this song (featuring an appropriately strange animation).