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  • Writer's pictureTiana Starks

This DC apartment building provides low-income families with solar power and a resilience center

In the heart of Columbia Heights, a new apartment building offers residents and nearby community members an unexpected service: Resilience. Jubilee Housing, a non-profit that creates deeply affordable housing for low-income residents, has joined with New Partners Community Solar Corp. to create a “resiliency center” inside The Maycroft Apartments.

A resilience hub or center is a facility that serves as point of resource distribution in case of a natural or manmade emergency. This one includes solar panels on the roof and enough batteries to sustain the first floor community center for three days should the power go out city-wide. The building provides affordable housing for 64 families, and 40 of the units have rents between $600 and $700 a month. It’s the first initiative of its kind in DC.

What is resilience, and why is a resilience center important?

Should the power grid that provides electricity to the area shut down, The Maycroft has a battery storage system that would keep vital electricity running for up to three days, though only for crucial things like common lights, elevators, and the building’s emergency system.

Residents of The Maycroft can come to the resilience room located on the first floor to charge their phones, monitor the news, or store medicines in a refrigerator. The space can also be used to provide basic services like medical assistance, childcare, and a kitchen to cook food.

Resilience has become a buzzword in the last few years as cities and countries prepare for what the UN is calling an impending climate catastrophe. The Rockefeller Foundation established 100 Resilient Cities (100RC) to help cities respond and prepare to coming climate emergencies. DC is a member of 100RC and has begun planning resilience strategies for the city.

On April 29, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced the first urban resilience strategy for the city that “is organized around three main drivers of change: economic and population growth; climate change; and technological transformation,” according to a press release. One of the first initiatives, called Resilient Rivers, focuses on developing riverside communities to be able to withstand flooding caused by climate change.

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