Over the last 23 years, ZION has developed over 160 units of housing of all kinds - single-family, and multifamily, rental and owner-occupied - all in the MidTown neighborhood. ZION's two largest housing projects so far are Longwood Gardens (for seniors with lower incomes and living independently) and the Grand Apartments (for single adult men and women coming out of homelessness). ZION has developed twelve townhouses (new constructions) and renovated seven market-rate condos.
Many people would say that housing is the most essential element to a strong and healthy neighborhood. Indeed, the appearance of the neighborhood itself is almost always most dependent on the condition and design of its housing. Is the housing well designed and appropriate for the people living there? Is the housing in good condition - in good repair? Is the housing too dense for the community? Are the houses too close to each other? Too close to the street? Is there proper accommodation for parking, for recreation? Are there nice flowers, trees and scrubs?
These are all good considerations. ZDC has paid close attention to all of these factors in developing over $20 million worth of housing in the MidTown neighborhood. In addition, ZDC has added concerns for environmental sustainability and so always builds housing that is very energy efficient. We use lots of insulation, high-efficiency furnaces and water heaters, tight, hi-tech windows, and lots of caulk to seal the cracks. ZDC's most recent housing project, the Lantow Lofts, boasts ten solar thermal panels on the roof, geothermal heating and cooling, and both foam and fiberglass insulation in the walls. As a result, ZDC's home buyers and tenants enjoy utility bills that are significantly lower than most homes. This demonstrates that environmental sustainability and affordability can work well together.
ZION also promtes mixed-income housing and mixed-income neighborhoods. Although mixed-income development is not the current norm, ZION believes that it is not wise to concentrate either poverty or wealth in a neighborhood for economic, social and even moral reasons. So, to promote mixed-income housing, ZION has worked increasingly hard to state the positives of mixed-income housing to the broader community and especially to the community of faith. To the community at large, ZION argues that urban sprawl and the resulting segregation of the materially rich from the materially poor has resulted in more and more social problems which are both incredibly heart-breaking and unsustainably expensive. To the faith community, ZION and its colleagues in the Christian community development movement advocate for the Church to practice incarnational ministry. That is, to do as Jesus did, to come and live among us poor souls, love us, work with us and help us create a cohesive community where loving your neighbor is more important than accumulating physical wealth.