Title page for ETD etd-01112002-112556

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Renneckar, Patricia L.
URN etd-01112002-112556
Title From Community Blight to Community Asset: The Renovation of the Historic Whitelaw Hotel into Affordable Housing
Degree Master of Science
Department Geography
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Brooker-Gross, Susan R. Committee Chair
Ebrahim, Alnoor S. Committee Member
Toal, Gerard Committee Member
  • Whitelaw Hotel
  • affordable housing
  • gentrification
  • urban redevelopment
Date of Defense 2001-12-17
Availability unrestricted
The intent of this thesis is to investigate whether there is a place for low-income residents in gentrified neighborhoods by examining how the housing needs of these households are provided. Affordable housing development and maintenance are key components for preserving a place for low-income residents in gentrified communities.

This paper investigates the provision of affordable housing through the renovation of the historic Whitelaw Hotel in Washington, D.C. by recreating the renovation events from interviews with participants in the project to document the obstacles to and benefits of the success of these projects. The paper also examines the issue of affordability and sustainability of affordable housing projects. Affordable is a subjective term. Local jurisdictions determine the income criteria that establish eligibility for affordable units. In many cities such as Washington, D.C., the area median income (AMI) used to determine eligibility is higher than the median income of the neighborhoods in which the affordable housing is located. A high AMI increases the number of households eligible for subsidized housing, which heightens competition for these units pitting very low-income households against households earning almost twice their income. Also, the sustainability of affordable units is contingent on many factors. There are mechanisms for preserving affordability and many limitations, including personal decisions, which impact their longevity. This paper found that while the renovation project successfully created affordable housing there was little consensus by interview participants on the definition of affordability or whether the project is sustainable as affordable housing after the low-income housing tax credits expires.

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