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Almost every American receives a subsidy in some form or owes some benefit from one.

Housing subsidies were especially instrumental in creating the white middle class after the Second World War. American soldiers returning from war were welcomed home with generous aid from the GI Bill of Rights, guaranteeing access to education and housing.

But these guarantees were meant almost exclusively for the benefit of whites. Preexisting federally sanctioned racist FHA and bank lending practices excluded almost all minorities from benefiting from these housing subsidies. By favoring whites, they created artificial and racially sterile white suburban communities. For an upwardly mobile minority homebuyer trying to integrate into these neighborhoods, it was a common experience to be greeted with racist housing practices including redlining and blockbusting or discrimination by neighborhood NIMBY organizations. Together these practices preserved or worsened residential segregation and impeded minority resident homeownership. As owning a home means the ability to accumulate equity and build a financially sound future for oneself, not having this ability to accumulate wealth hinders one’s socioeconomic wellbeing. It also detrimentally affects minority communities by concentrating poverty in segregated neighborhoods, resulting in a resounding cycle of urban decay, structural dilapidation and lack of interest in community wellbeing and development.

Even though today these racist lending practices have been outlawed by the Fair Housing Act of 1968, this law alone could not and has not corrected the legacy of decades of neglect and the segregated concentration of poverty. Direct corrective measures are needed, particularly subsidies for first-time minority homebuyers. If this seems unfair or the favoring of some over others, one needs to remember the dual history of the housing market: subsidizing whites and divesting minorities. One half of the story created the middle class and the other minority segregation and exclusion. Taking action today by subsidizing minority homebuyers is not an unfair handout; it is the reification of an equality of opportunity long withheld to some while being long enjoyed by most.

Don’t treat America’s homeless as criminals

Braving America without a home has always been hard. Now it’s becoming a crime. A recent survey of 234 cities by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty found that on nearly every front, municipalities are cracking down on the homeless: 24% prohibit begging, 22% prohibit loitering and 16% say it’s illegal to sleep in public places.

Full Article here:

Peculiar Problem in the District as well, where homelessness is up 20%:

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.

HPAP- DC’s Homegrown Tool

In a recent Washington Post Article “In D.C. loan program, mortgage defaults abound”, the District’s homegrown down payment loan program, HPAP, was painted a massive failure that purposely sets low-income residents up for failure.  This couldn’t be further from the truth. The article takes the facts about high delinquency rates out of the context, comparing the rates for small down payment loans (historically and expectedly high compared to first trust delinquency rates), as its evidence that the program is a ‘wasteland’ and the District is putting families in ‘loans buyers can’t afford’.  However the true measure of the program, a1.8% foreclosure rate, gets dismissed.

Ms. Cenziper isolates a few instances where purchasers paid too much for their homes and are facing problems staying current on their mortgages.  Ms. Cenziper contacted Manna in her research and the following was shared to her, none of which appears in her article.  A typical HPAP recipient goes through an intake session, a home purchase counseling program, two levels of underwriting for credit and income worthiness, and the professionalism of the program management.  The end result is a buyer educated on the risks and responsibilities of being a homeowner.

Manna has been producing affordable homeownership housing for almost 30 years now and we know what a ‘Wasteland’ looks like.  The down payment loan program provides a responsible, successful approach for lending money that is repaid and recycled.

Sensationalizing the facts to fit the headline contributes to the misinformation about affordable homeownership housing.  With a less than 2% foreclosure rate, it’s hard to make sense of the article.   The program has successfully contributed to assisting thousands of low and moderate income people become homeowners in the District.  This should be celebrated instead of scapegoated.

Washington Post article on Affordable Condo issue

An article came out yesterday in the Washington Post about the Affordable Condo issue (rising condo fees coupled with 20 year resale/rental restrictions in market-rate condo buildings) that all of you have been involved in since Fall 2011. Please read the article at You’ll notice that there is a storm of varying opinions in the comments section, some that are quite disparaging to the situation that many Affordable Condo owners, many of you, are going through.
Please send the article around to your friends, family and Councilmember, and comment on the article yourself. It is important that your voices are heard, that affordable owners going through this situation are humanized and that solutions are lifted up.
We believe a few things are important for residents of our City to note:
1. These affordable owners are not trying to game the system; they qualified for their mortgages like any other homeowner but have fallen prey to policies that unfortunately have financially burdened them and do not account for normal life circumstances. These policies will also adversely affect market-rate owners.
2. There is a way to provide relief to those in trouble: allowing owners to sell to buyers in higher income categories, allowing owners to rent out at a price that covers their monthly unit costs, creating a fund for condo fees using an affordable owners’ restricted equity, etc.
3. There is another way to structure the Affordable Dwelling Unit program – one that doesn’t allow for windfall profits, but that allows affordable owners to gain equity like any other homeowner and recaptures funds for the District to produce more affordable housing (see
Lift your voice for yourselves and your neighbors! We are all in this together.

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 or 202-745-0902 x205.

WAMU Coverage of Affordable Condo Issue

WAMU reporter Elahe Izadi wrote today about the situation of affordable condo owners who were integrated into market-rate condo buildings and the current issue of escalating condo fees that are making their units unaffordable, and the City-imposed resale and rental restrictions that are locking some of these owners in their units. One thing not covered in the article are solutions that have been presented to the City Council, which include:

1.      Allowing ADU owners to resell to buyers in higher income categories

2.      Allowing ADU owners to rent out their units at a price that covers the monthly costs of the unit.

3.      Creating an Excessive Condo Fee Loan program by utilizing the restricted equity of the ADU units

While it is understandable that the City, as Councilmember Jim Graham says in the WAMU article, “need[s] to understand how widespread [high condo fees are], what kind of impact this is having on people,” the City also needs to work quickly to help owners who are at a breaking point and owners who will get there soon. This is not what the City intended, this issue is only going to get worse, and the City can work efficiently and speedily to address it.

Affordable Condo Owners Speak

Check out the stories of 3 Affordable Dwelling Unit (ADU) owners across Northwest DC who were integrated into market-rate condo buildings through agreements between the DC government and various developers. Their concerns, which are similar to those of the over 110 ADU owners living in market-rate buildings across the city, range from rising condo fees that are making their units unaffordable to City-imposed 20-year resale and rental restrictions that constrict equity build up and do not account for normal life circumstances. Read your neighbors’ concerns and suggestions to the City, and help them by emailing the Department of Housing and Community Development to ask for their support and quick action with the City Council.

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 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:,

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.

(Sign Your Name)