Category Archives: Advocate’s Corner

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!

Listen to Your Neighbors: The Impact of Long-term Resale Restrictions

The DC government is imposing long-term (15-30 years) resale restrictions on homeowners who receive downpayment assistance and qualify to purchase an affordable home. These homeowners pay back every cent and take on the same risks that other homeowners do, yet these restrictions highly constrict equity build up and ignore regular circumstances that occur in people’s lives.

Listen to and stand with your neighbors by joining the Housing Advocacy Team listserv and following up on future urgent actions.

Plug into affordable housing issues today!

Check out the updated information in our Issues section. There is new information on the effects of long-term resale restrictions, Manna’s “Resale and Recapture” provision as an alternative to those restrictions, and the Continuum of Housing campaign. So, read up on the issues, let us know what you think, and consider joining the Continuum of Housing campaign.

HAT will offer you more ways to plug in soon. We can’t do our work without you!

New and Improved hatdc.org

The website is back!  With great joy the Housing Advocacy Team ushers in the new and improved www.hatdc.org.  We also have a Facebook page where you can post your photos of HAT events, have discussions, and more.  Please give us “the thumbs up” by clicking on the “like” button! You can follow our Facebook page (and sign up for an account, if you need one) here.

While you are surfing the web.  Check out the following Housing Complex Blog article here

Addressing Affordable Homeownership in a Different Way: The Present and The Alternative

The Present: Long-Term Resale Restrictions

The current long-term resale restrictions that the DC government places on homebuyers of affordable units – typically 15-20 year restrictions, but even reaching up to 30 years or permanent – force home owners to sell their properties at below market rate. The intended purpose of these restrictions is to preserve affordable housing units in Washington, DC and ensure against people immediately reselling their properties and making a ‘windfall’ profit. However, the flipping of affordable units is almost nonexistent and these restrictions have the unintended result of preventing home owners from building up equity. The chance to build reasonable equity is one of the main reasons people become homeowners, and home equity has historically and continues to be the primary asset builder for lower income people.

The effects of long-term resale restrictions include:

  1. Short-term effects: home owners are unable to access their home equity when unforeseen or emergency expenses arise (e.g. health emergencies, emergency home repair, etc.).
  2. Long-term effect: home owners are unable to build wealth and maintain generational home ownership.  With long resale restrictions, home ownership is not a viable investment. Instead, it creates one-time home owners.

Real-life situations to consider in regards to long-term resale restrictions:

  1. If a lower income person gets married, or a couple has a child, and needs to trade up to a larger home in the same neighborhood, where will the equity come from to enable them to buy a larger home in DC? As second-time homeowners, they will not be eligible for the same benefits they could get as lower income, first-time homebuyers.
  2. If a lower income owner has a better job opportunity in another location, how will he/she be able to remain a homeowner unless reasonable equity can be realized so that a home can be purchased in another area? Even in an area with lower prices, substantial down payments are often needed for low-income persons.
  3. What happens if the housing market declines and there is a financial loss? It would appear that the lower income owner bears the full burden of all losses whereas that same owner is severely restricted in what he/she can realize.

In summary, without the ability to accumulate reasonable equity over time, the lower income buyer can easily become trapped in a homeownership situation and forced to sell rather than be able to cope with adverse life circumstances. Therefore, the people who can least afford it and are in need of the economic opportunity only homeownership can give them are being forced to shoulder a disproportionate share of the burden in creating affordable homeownership in DC. We and the population we serve feel this is unfair and discriminatory.

The Alternative: Recapture and Recycle

Manna advocates an alternative to long-term resale restrictions, particularly in wealthier areas of the city where home appreciation is high. A better, more equitable way to insure against the concerns voiced by long-term resale restrictions, specifically against “windfall profit” and “property flipping”, is through what Manna calls a “Recapture and Recycle” provision. This provision, which has been promoted in different forms by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, recaptures all funds that are considered “subsidy” to the buyer, which is the difference in the original sales price to the lower income buyer and the higher appraised/market price at that time. This difference would be repaid if and when the lower income buyer resells his/her unit. This allows the “recaptured” funds and any funds considered subsidies to be treated as a loan that gets repaid and  “recycled” back into additional affordable units for more qualified lower income families. Rather than long-term resale restrictions, Manna advocates and employs a 5-10 year resale restriction.

An example of the “Recapture and Recycle” provision:
If a lower income person purchases a unit that is worth $435,000 from a developer for $235,500 (the cost of developing the unit), then the $199,500 “discount” would be considered a subsidy that would be repaid to the city to produce more affordable homeownership opportunities when the homeowner sells or refinances. The homeowner would benefit from being able to fully utilize, like a typical homeowner, any appreciation accumulated above the original $435,000 value after the 5-10 year period.