“It’s fantastic,” Khandelwal said.
The project was the third and final phase of a nearly decade-long project that RRHA partnered with Enterprise Community Development on. New apartments at the Baker School and two other sites replaced 200 subsidized units for seniors in the Frederic A. Fay Towers in the northern half of Jackson Ward.
The effort is one of the first in the country that used the federal rental assistance demonstration program to rehouse families off-site, according to the housing authority. The high rises, dating to 1976, are obsolete and ill-equipped to meet the needs of the low-income seniors who lived there, RRHA officials said.
The first phase, completed in 2016, was a conversion of the Highland Park School at Six Points on Brookland Park Boulevard into 77 senior apartments. Phase two, completed in 2020, was the 72-unit The Rosa Senior Apartments at 744 N. Second Street.
The Baker School, dating to 1938, adds 50 more. Its grand opening comes on the heels of other new housing projects in Jackson Ward, like the 14-unit St. Luke Building and the 86-unit Van de Vyver Apartment Homes.
The projects represent a new wave of investment in the historically Black neighborhood that was bisected by a highway in the 1950s. Demolition of homes and businesses in the highway’s path marked the beginning of a period of decline that the community is still recovering from, longtime residents of the neighborhood have said.