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.

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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)

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A Continuum of Housing Story

The Continuum of Housing, a campaign of the Coalition for Nonprofit Housing and Development, encompasses a full range of housing options, from supportive housing for the homeless to affordable homeownership and everything in-between. As the market does not provide the type of housing needed at a cost that many can afford, the campaign brings together nonprofits and others along the Continuum to work together and with the DC Government to ensure city housing policies and funding priorities that provide housing options for all DC residents, offering people support and stability as they live and work in the city and helping people to climb up the economic ladder and out of poverty and dependence. Listen below to  long-time DC resident, Billy Hart, share his Continuum of Housing story and join us at the December 10th Housing for All/Continuum rally at the MLK Library from 12-2pm to support an inclusive and prosperous city.

Video created by HAT.

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Affordable condo issue in San Francisco mirrors DC

In 2007, the same issue that HAT is currently focused on in DC of rising condo fees facing affordable owners who were integrated into market-rate buildings became a concern in San Francisco. This article highlights affordable owners dealing with doubling condo fees and enormous special assessments that the City did not foresee and could not regulate once the condo associations took control of various buildings. These fees were making the units unaffordable for the affordable owners (who were no more than 15% of the buildings), while the market-rate owners could more easily deal with and were more likely to support the increases. The author highlights the need for the City of San Francisco to set up a fund to help pay for the condo fees, support only all-affordable projects where fee increases like this would not take place, or devise more careful plans to truly integrate affordable owners into luxury condo buildings (though the author doubts this is possible). Stay tuned for ways you can advocate for solutions for current affordable condo owners dealing with these issues in DC!

An area in San Francisco where affordable units/owners were integrated into market-rate condo buildings.

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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!

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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

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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…

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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!

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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%.

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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.

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