All posts by admin

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

Cheaper to Buy than to Rent

Though homeownership is not for everyone, for those who are interested in and ready for it, now may be a good time to buy in the District. This Washington Post article highlights that for many young professionals in the City, purchasing a home is a cheaper option than renting. Rental prices have gone up 3.7% each year since 2006, and the fair market price for a 2-bedroom apartment is in the $1400s. With low mortgage rates (below 4% on a 30-year fixed mortgage) and more stable housing prices, now is also the time for low and moderate-income people/families to become homeowners. HPAP, the City’s homegrown downpayment assistance program for first-time, lower-income homebuyers, is in place along with excellent homebuyer education. Such programs are the City’s best investment as the buyer ends up paying the money back and people have an opportunity to build wealth and stability through owning their own home. Now may be the time to buy…

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!

Low Homeownership Rate in DC

According to a new report by the US Census Bureau, the homeownership rate in Washington, DC increased 10.7% between 2001 and 2010. However, DC still has the third lowest homeownership rate (42%) of all US cities, behind New York and Los Angeles. One of the reasons for the low rate is the transient nature of some of DC’s population, but the more prominent reason is the high cost of homes and condos in DC. When looking at African American residents in DC, the homeownership rate is even lower at 38.8%.

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.

Subprime Mortgage Meltdown – Challenging the Myths

For many, the foreclosure crisis has been pinned on uniformed minority and low-income borrowers as well as policies that support them in becoming homeowners. This myth has led some to consider low-income buyers as not ready for homeownership, as part of the problem rather than the solution.

A recent groundbreaking study by Maurice Jordain-Earl of ComplianceTech researches the demographics of the subprime fiaso and reveals that upper-income borrowers across all racial groups had the largest number of subprime rate loans, followed by middle-income borrowers from all racial groups. The study concludes that the meltdown “is better described as a mainstream white suburbia problem with aspects that affect minorities and urban communities. Erroneous assumptions about the demographics of subprime rate lending will only lead to poor decisions that result in ineffective solutions.”

Manna’s and others experiences have been that low down payments, 30 year-fixed rate loans and financial education/counseling have proven to be the key ingredients for making low-income home buyers successful, even through the foreclosure crisis. And homeownership has been a legitimate and important way for these responsible buyers and their families to build assets and move up the economic ladder. Low-income buyers are and can be part of the answer to the crisis we are in.

History of Homeownership and Race in the United States

There has always and continues to be a wealth gap between whites and minority groups in the United States. According to a recent Pew Research Center study, the median wealth of white households is 20 times that of black households and 18 times that of Hispanic households. Though the gap has significantly widened in recent years, this gap also has deep roots in the history of the United States, including discriminatory policies and practices that limited the traditional way Americans have increased their wealth: Homeownership.

For a history of homeownership and race in the United States, see the below segment of the documentary “Race – The Power of An Illusion”:

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!