Category Archives: Advocate’s Corner

Homeownership Roundtable – June 21, 2012!

Please join us at the Homeownership Roundtable at City Council on June 21, 2012 at 10am! You will hear practitioners and owners speak about the importance of homeownership for low and moderate income folks in the City, and how to make various homeownership tools and resources more effective, more impactful on the City’s economy, and more available to residents willing to put in the work to become homeowners. If you would like to testify, you can contact Councilmember Michael Brown’s office at the phone number or email below.

Council of the District of Columbia

Committee on Housing and Workforce Development

Notice of Public Roundtable

1350 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. 20004

COUNCILMEMBER MICHAEL A. BROWN, CHAIRPERSON

COMMITTEE ON HOUSING AND WORFORCE DEVELOPMENT

ANNOUNCES A PUBLIC ROUNDTABLE ON

National Homeownership Month

Councilmember Michael A. Brown, Chairperson of the Committee on Housing and Workforce Development, announces a public roundtable on National Homeownership Month.  The public roundtable will be held on Monday, June 18, 2012, at 2:00 p.m., in Room 123 of the John A. Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. 20004.

Thursday, June 21, 2012 – 10:00 a.m.

Room 123, John A. Wilson Building

1350 Pennsylvania Ave., NW

Washington, D.C. 20004

Those who wish to testify should contact Carol Sadler at (202) 724-8198 or csadler@dccouncil.us, and provide your name, organizational affiliation, and title of organization by 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, June 20, 2012.  Witnesses should bring 20 copies of their written testimony to the roundtable.  The Committee allows each individual 3 minutes to provide oral testimony in order to permit each witness an opportunity to be heard.  Additional written statements are encouraged and will be made part of the official record. The official record will close ten days following the conclusion of the roundtable.

DCʼs Home Purchase Assistance Program (HPAP)

What is it?

HPAP, the Districtʼs homegrown downpayment assistance program, provides up to
$44,000 for first-time, low and moderate income home buyers. Downpayment
assistance is critical for low and moderate income DC residents as saving enough for a
downpayment, especially in DCʼs expensive housing market, is one of the largest
impediments becoming a homeowner.
In addition to the financial assistance, HPAP recipients also receive intensive financial
and home buyers education, preparing them for the responsibilities and challenges of
homeownership.
HPAP acts as a second mortgage. Recipients begin paying it down starting in year six
of owning their home and make monthly payments over a 40 year period, thus making
the payments affordable. Some recipients pay back their HPAP loan much quicker.

What it provides

HPAP has helped 13,000 DC residents move out of systems of dependency and
ongoing subsidy, and currently generates $2 million in repayment every year. Even
through the housing crisis, HPAP recipients have only a 2% foreclosure rate.
Homeownership offers a way for prepared families to build wealth through the equity in
their home, helps reduce crime in neighborhoods, and improves childrenʼs educational
performance.
At a time when it is cheaper to own than rent in the DC and with historically low interest
rates, the DC government should be increasing HPAP rather than letting it dwindle (see
the chart below). Providing homeownership opportunities to low and moderate income
people also allows room for other DC residents to benefit from other essential affordable
housing programs – creating a dynamic continuum of housing that moves people out of
poverty.

See a recent article about the program and budget cuts at http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/14648/cuts-threaten-successful-homeownership-program/

Testifying at City Council!

Future affordable homeowners and HPAP recipients give testimony at City Council.

Yesterday, the DC City Council Committee on Housing & Workforce Development held its annual budget hearing for fiscal year 2013. As affordable housing for District residents remains distant from Mayor Gray’s vision for the city, cuts were made to two essential city housing programs: the Home Purchase Assistance Program (HPAP) totaling $5 million and the Housing Production Trust Fund (HPTF) totaling $20 million (for more information, see http://housingforallblog.org/2012/03/so-what-happened-in-the-mayors-budget/).

Along with numerous housing advocates and non-profits, 19 past and future recipients of HPAP loans, along with Manna, Inc. staff, submitted testimony before the Committee Chairman and At-Large City Councilman Michael Brown to the positive effect that homeownership purchased through HPAP has had on their lives.

Bernice Joseph, a mother of 4 and homeowner in Ward 2 since 2002 said, “Without this program I do not know where I would be. But I do know I would not be in my neighborhood, the one that is so dear to my heart, the one where I put down roots, the one where I have lived for the past 21 years… Without the stable price of my mortgage, I would not be able to afford to go back to school; I definitely could not afford my classes if I had to pay market-rate rent.”

Robert Cooke, a recent homeowner in Ward 5 said, “My story, and the story of some of the members on this very Council, is only possible with the HPAP. HPAP is one of the best investments that the City makes. It just doesn’t make sense that the Mayor is cutting back on this program, while there is an ongoing housing crisis in this city. I will pay back my HPAP assistance so others can become homeowners, too, and I will contribute to the City through property taxes. Where else would this be possible for a person on disability?”

Finally, Willamena Samuels, homeowner in Ward 2 and Director of Manna’s Homebuyers Club said, “HPAP has helped to break the cycle of poverty and allowed families to build wealth and live the American dream of homeownership. Although I own a home in DC and have no thoughts of moving, it pains me to think that the future of the District of Columbia would be one that doesn’t give people opportunities to stay in the city they grew up in and love. If you cut HPAP funds, you limit homeownership to only the very rich.”

After the council hearing many testifiers, concerned residents and housing advocates held a rally in support of full restoration to the housing budget. Ralliers heard from affordable practitioners, advocates and recipients alike, including Jubilee Housing affordable renter Brian Adams, Coalition for Non-Profit Housing and Economic Development organizer Elizabeth Falcon, and Manna affordable homeowner Robert Cooke. Together their words testified to the fact that DC residents need a diverse continuum of affordable housing to move low-income residents up and out of poverty and full funding from the city government to make that possible.

Though the testimony heard before the council and at the rally has been stirringly emotional and persuasive, the fight to restore HPAP and HPTF funding is far from finished. And though those at the rally also heard support for affordable housing needs from Councilmembers Michael Brown, Yvette Alexander, Jim Graham, and Marion Barry, full budget restoration can only happen with majority support from the council.

The hearing and rally are over. It is now up to all housing advocates to continue the fight and steadfastly plead to their Councilmembers for full restoration and funding to these vital housing programs. There is only a short time remaining for action before the Committee of the Whole will cast its final vote on the Mayor’s budget. Go forth and act on this issue today.

For more about the rally and excerpts from speeches given visit the Coalition for Non-Profit Housing and Economic Development website at:
http://housingforallblog.org/2012/04/residents-rally-stop-making-affordable-housing-programs-disappear/

Official Affordable Condo Legislation!

Wonderful news Advocates!  We have a draft of the proposed legislation to assist distressed ADU owners.  The key components of the bill are:

 (a) DHCD may grant a hardship waiver to resale restrictions for homeowners residing in Affordable Housing Units financed in whole or in part by DHCD.  If granted, the homeowner may rent the unit at market rate or sell the unit subject to the restrictions.   In order to qualify, the Owner must meet one or more of the criteria below:

                                (1) The Owner’s employer is temporarily sending the Owner to a work place a great distance from the Owner’s home;

                                (2) The Owner is called to military service;

                                (3) The Owner can prove an excessive annual condominium fee increase of 25% or more; or

                                (4) Any other compelling reason warranting a hardship waiver under the Director’s discretion.

 The draft will be introduced on Tuesday and a public hearing will be scheduled within the coming weeks.  We will need your support to make this bill a reality and will need your assistance to make Council visits.   However, we will need to revise the dates of the Council visits that were scheduled for the week of February 27th.  Please spread the word to other ADU owners.  We are one step closer to revising these onerously restrictive policies.  Thank you all and we’ll be in contact as soon as we know the hearing date.

Free Housing Advocacy Training

The Coalition for Nonprofit Housing and Community Development, as part of the Housing for All campaign, is offering a free 5-week housing advocacy training. The training will be held on Wednesdays 6:30-8:30pm at Jubilee Housing (1631 Euclid Street NW). See the training schedule below:

January 18 – Advocacy Basics
January 25 – Telling your story
February 1 – Giving testimony
February 8 – Meeting with elected officials or agencies
February 15 – Talking to the media

If you are interested, please RSVP. For questions, contact Elizabeth Falcon at efalcon@cnhed.org or 202-745-0902 x205.

Come to the HAT Holiday Party – Celebrating Advocacy Successes!

Please join us at the HAT Holiday Party on Monday, December 12th at 6:30 pm. We’re going to celebrate our collective advocacy successes, made possible by people like you, over dinner, desserts and a live DJ! Childcare will also be provided.

Please RSVP with Shiv at snewaldass@mannadc.org or 202-534-1057 before the close of business on Friday, December 9th.  We will need to order adequate amounts food and refreshments for the party.  Also, we encourage you to bring your kids and friends; please just let us know ahead of time. The address is 828 Evarts Street, NE Washington DC.  We are two blocks from the Rhode Island Avenue Metro Station.

Help Affordable Condo Owners Now! Email DHCD

On November 10, affordable owners representing 7 affected buildings met with all of the City Councilmembers’ offices and received a lot of support for their plight: rising condo fees coupled with City-imposed resale/rental restrictions that have placed these owners in impossible and financially disastrous situations. These owners now need the support of and quick action from the Department of Housing and Community Development, who oversees the administration of the Affordable Dwelling Unit program. Please fill in your name and other information below and click “Send” to send the following email to Director John Hall and Housing Regulation Administrator Gilles Stucker. And thank you for supporting yourselves and your neighbors!

We’ve experienced some technical difficulties. For now, please copy and paste the below email to the following email addresses: johne.hall@dc.gov, gilles.stucker@dc.gov

Subject: Find a Solution for Affordable Condo Owners

Dear Director John Hall and Housing Resource Administrator Gilles Stucker,

I am very concerned about the situation of Affordable Dwelling Unit (ADU) owners who were integrated into various market-rate condo buildings throughout Northwest DC. ADU owners representing 7 buildings met with the City Council on November 10 and received a lot of support for their plight; I am hoping for the same support from the Department of Housing and Community Development.

Many of these owners are now paying condo fees that are double what they were paying 3 or 4 years ago, resulting in condo fees that are often over 50% of these owners’ monthly mortgage payments. Some owners’ condo fees are almost more than their mortgage payments. As these fees continue to rise, an enormous cost burden is placed on these low and moderate-income families.

These ADU owners have been put in an impossible situation due to poor City planning and overtly restrictive policies.

These families want to continue living in their homes, but due to the rising condo fees, many of them will have to sell. However, the City-imposed resale restrictions on these ADUs require the owners to sell to prospective buyers at certain Area Median Income categories. Due to the high and rising condo fees, many buyers in these income categories would not qualify for the units.

Compounding the issue even further for those owners who cannot sell their units, renting out their homes is not an option either. If ADU owners are allowed to rent out their units, which varies depending on the condo building, the City-imposed rental restrictions force them to rent their units at prices that are lower than the monthly costs associated with owning units.

The current and escalating situation has left many ADU owners with no other option besides future foreclosure or taking the City to court. Affordable homeownership is supposed to provide stability and opportunity for families, not instability and financial ruin.

I implore you to act quickly on behalf of these owners to find equitable solutions for the situation the City has created. I look forward to what DHCD and the City Council will do together to address this situation and how the ADU program will be restructured in the future to avoid similar problems.

Sincerely,
(Sign Your Name)

Affordable Condo Owners meet with City Council

Affordable condo owners, who were integrated into market-rate condo buildings through DC government agreements with various developers, met with every DC Councilmember’s office on Thursday, November 10. They delivered hundreds of signed petitions, spoke about issues with the Affordable Dwelling Unit (ADU) program, and discussed possible solutions. One owner spoke about her condo fee now being one dollar less than her mortgage payment; another spoke about her father dying of cancer and her desire to be able to rent out her apartment in order help take care of him; yet another spoke about her desire to have a family and her worry that a 20 year resale restriction would lock her future family into a unit that is too small for them. For more information on these owners’ situations, see http://hatdc.org/?page_id=444. You can also see photos of the City Council meetings at https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.273808212662900.65696.124729094237480&type=1.

Below is a list of market-rate condo buildings with ADU owners facing rising condo fees compounded by resale and rental restrictions. The escalating condo fees at Chase Point and Kenyon Square are the most severe, with many owners paying condo fees almost equal to or more than their mortgage payments. All of these ADUs have 20 year resale restrictions, meaning the owners are required to sell to someone else in their income category for 20 years and cannot access their equity for the same period of time. Owners at Kenyon Square are allowed to rent out their units, but not at a price that covers the monthly costs associated with their units. ADU owners at other buildings are not allowed to rent out their units.

  1. Barcelona – 1435 Chapin St NW
  2. Chase Point – 4301 Military Rd NW
  3. City Vista – 475 K St NW and 440 L St NW
  4. Fedora – 1451 Belmont St NW
  5. Kenyon Square – 1390 Kenyon St NW
  6. Union Row – 2125 14th St NW
  7. Verona Parc – 1348 Euclid St NW

Possible solutions for current ADU owners that were discussed in meetings at Councilmembers’ offices yesterday:

  1. Allowing ADU owners to rent out their units at a price that covers the monthly costs of the unit.
  2. Allowing ADU owners to resell to buyers in higher income categories.
  3. Allowing ADU owners to access some of their equity, particularly for those who want to stay in their units.
  4. Extending the tax abatement period from 5 years to 20 years or permanently.

Discussions need to take place with the Department of Housing and Community Development, which Councilmember Michael Brown’s office said they would begin. We also need to know what mechanisms would need to be used (legislative, legal) in order to pursue some of the above options and others that may arise; a combination of solutions will be required to fully address the situation. We hope these discussions and processes will not only provide relief for current ADU owners, but also allow the City to restructure its ADU program to avoid these issues in the future.

Stay tuned for ways you can help!

Unintended consequences of DC housing policy

The current campaign to support affordable condo owners who were integrated into market-rate condo buildings throughout NW is underway. These owners are facing rising condo fees coupled with City-imposed resale/rental restrictions that have put them in an impossible and financially disastrous situation. Read a letter that we received from one of these owners below:

This owner and others need your support!

Take one second to sign a petition supporting these affordable owners at: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/affordablecondos/ – Representatives from various condos will deliver this petition to and meet with various DC Councilmember’s offices in a week or so; They need as many signatures as possible!

For more details on the situation of affordable condos in Northwest DC, see: http://hatdc.org/?p=456

Listen to the stories of affordable condo owners at Kenyon Square in Columbia Heights: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=29JMB8HU1yU

Support Your Neighbors! – Affordable Condo Owners in NW DC

Please raise a voice of support for your neighbors – affordable condo owners in NW DC!

Many affordable condo owners in NW DC, who were integrated into market-rate condo buildings through DC government agreements with various developers, are dealing with rising condo fees that are making their units unaffordable. One owner at Kenyon Square is now paying a condo fee almost more than his monthly mortgage. Due to certain resale and rental restrictions imposed by the City on these affordable units, many of these owners cannot sell or rent and are faced with the choice of future foreclosure or taking the City to court. The City has put these responsible DC residents in an impossible and financially disastrous situation. The City can do better!

For more details on the situation of affordable condos in Northwest DC, see: http://hatdc.org/?p=456

Sign a petition asking the DC government  for an equitable solution to the problem the City has created (please include your address and/or zipcode in the comments section): http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/affordablecondos/

Listen to the stories of affordable condo owners at Kenyon Square in Columbia Heights:

Your voices are essential! Please support your neighbors!