Groundbreaking ceremony held for Ward 7 housing project

Affordable housing projects are becoming regular practice here in D.C. Monday, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray broke ground on a mixed-use development, but not everyone is happy about it.

Nestled between Minnesota Avenue and Benning Road, the $60 million project aims to be a unique, mixed-use asset for Ward 7.

"It's hugely important. We want to do everything we possibly can to make sure that the people who want to continue to live in this city have the opportunity to live here.," Gray said.

Officials say the project will bring jobs and revenue to an area where high unemployment is a major roadblock to improvement.

Ward 7 Council Member Yvette Alexander added, "It really gives us a sense of excitement and hope. This is really evident that Ward 7 is on the move."

When it's finished, the project will boast tens of thousands of square feet in office and retail space, as well as more than 300 affordable housing units.

But residents worry that affordable may not mean affordable for everyone.

"Affordable to whom? When you have a thousand residents coming every month or a thousand residents coming every year, are they the ones that will be able to afford it? Affordable can mean a whole lot of things to a lot of people,' Ivan Cloyd of Ward 7 said.

Residents add talk of new buildings and opportunities has yet to mean concrete answers for them.

The Ward 7 building is just one of more than 40 new complexes going up around the District.

Ward 7 resident Avey Simmons said, "I don't mind them fixing up the area. That's perfect. The only problem is the people in the area. Are they going to keep it the way that it is? Look around."

Supporters say a total turnaround is just 18 months away when the complex opens its doors to hundreds of new residents.