Mayor Bowser at Monday’s ribbon cutting ceremony celebrating the opening of The Ethel. Photo: Brynn Barnett
The Ethel, at 19th and C Streets, SE. Photo: Elizabeth Eby
Mayor Cuts Ribbon on Hill East’s 100 Units of Housing for the Homeless
by Elizabeth Eby
Posted February 14, 2023
About 200 people including press and many city officials attended Mayor Bowser’s ribbon cutting ceremony at The Ethel – which will provide permanent supportive housing* for 100 formerly homeless women. The building, at 19th and C, SE – steps away from the Stadium-Armory Metro Station – is part of the redevelopment of Reservation 13. The announcement came days before the National Park Service is scheduled to shut down the large homeless encampment at McPherson Square.
The Ethel is named for philanthropist Ethel Kennedy, the widow of Senator Robert Kennedy. Mrs. Kennedy did not attend but her daughter Kathleen Kennedy Townsend did and read a letter from her congratulating the city on the housing and job-training the building will provide. She talked about her mother’s attachment to the Hill East neighborhood. Foremost, of course, the stadium named for her late husband and then the Anacostia River. Townsend said her mother loved attending games at RFK and is still – at 95 – an avid football fan. Mrs. Kennedy actively participated in Anacostia Rivershed Society activities and clean-up days. A news story from the 70s featured Mrs. Kennedy pulling up a mud-filled tire from the river bottom and lugging it to shore. Speaking personally, Townsend mentioned that her mother doesn’t like the name Ethel and has spent the last 20 years making everyone call her Kate.
Here’s a photo of one of the units. Photo: Elizabeth Eby
The building hosts 100 spacious one-bedroom apartments each furnished with a kitchen, and a washer and dryer. Residents will pay 30% of their income for rent and the city will make up the difference between that amount and market value. The combined rent and subsidy goes to the building owners – Donatelli and Blue Skye. Amenities include an education center where local organizations will provide programs. There is also a computer lab, a kitchen for learning cooking and nutrition skills, as well a beauty salon for learning cosmetology and beauty skills. Residents will also receive intensive case management. Residents must have a Section 8 voucher but no additional requirements were mentioned.
The Ethel, at 19th and C, SE – steps away from the Stadium-Armory Metro Station – is part of the redevelopment of Reservation 13.
In 2019, Mayor Bowser announced a goal of building 36,000 new homes by 2025 including 12,000 affordable units. 1,400 of those units were slated for Capitol Hill.
Originally the building now named The Ethel was scheduled to be a mix of market rate and affordable units. In November of 2019, the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development revealed a plan to change the building to 100% low income housing units. The surprise left Hill East residents with deep feeling of distrust toward the city. Across C Street from The Ethel lies the 262 unit Park Kennedy luxury apartment complex, 31 of which are classified as affordable under Inclusionary Zoning regulations.
*Supportive housing refers to affordable housing with wrap-around support services for those who are homeless or have disabilities.