Tenants Invoked TOPA Rights to Keep Columbia Heights Building Safe and Affordable
(WASHINGTON, DC) – (RealEstateRama) — The DC Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) closed a loan agreement totaling more than $1.5 million that will help preserve 13 affordable housing units in Ward 4 for a tenant organization that invoked their rights under the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA). The funding was made available through the Housing Production Trust Fund (HPTF).
“Columbia Heights is one of the most diverse areas in the District, and tools like the Housing Production Trust Fund and TOPA are helping it to stay that way,” said DHCD Director Polly Donaldson. “Here, tenants who don’t speak English as their primary language were able to mobilize and take charge of their destinies by buying their building to keep it affordable, and begin a rehabilitation of the building with HPTF monies that will ensure the building gets much needed improvements.”
DHCD provided $1.5 million in HPTF financing to HOPE Cooperative Association for the acquisition and preservation of their 13-unit apartment building at 1445 Spring Road NW. The Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC), a community-based organization (CBO)funded by DHCD, worked with the tenants throughout their journey to homeownership.
“LEDC organizers have been working with residents at 1445 Spring Road NW since 2008 to assist them with improving their substandard housing conditions and organizing their tenant association,” explained LEDC Executive Director Marla Bilonick. “In 2012, their building went up for sale and LEDC provided ongoing technical support throughout the TOPA process, [when] they decided to take the future of their building into their own hands and convert the property to a Limited Equity Cooperative. Since the cooperative conversion, LEDC has continued to provide interpretation services and technical assistance. After a decade-long relationship with the residents at this property, many of our organizers have witnessed this association overcome countless hurdles. We are thrilled that the HOPE Cooperative will be taking another step closer to a completely renovated, affordable building.”
Nine affordable units will be available for households at or below $55,150 (50 percent of the Area Median Income [AMI]) and remain affordable for no less than 40 years; and four units will be available for households at or below $88,240 (80 percent AMI).
Since taking office, Mayor Muriel Bowser has made affordable housing a major focus of her administration. In October 2016, the mayor celebrated a record HPTF investment for Fiscal Year 2016: $106.3 million supporting 19 projects that will produce or preserve more than 1,200 affordable housing units across the city.
Since October 1, 2016, DHCD has closed 22 affordable housing production and preservation projects, yielding almost 850 units for District families. In addition, the 22 projects have received more than $82 million in DHCD financing — including $74 million in HPTF loans and $12.4 million in 4% and 9% Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) allocations.
DC’s annual $100 million HPTF is more than any city per capita in the country. Additionally, as part of her inclusive prosperity platform, the mayor has launched a new initiative of $10 million dedicated solely to a new public-private housing preservation fund. A search is now on for a preservation officer to spearhead this fund.
Since January 2015, the Bowser Administration has produced and preserved over 3,900 units of affordable housing in the District with more to come. More than 5,200 affordable housing units—capable of housing more than 13,150 District residents—are in the development pipeline