We recently learned that the District government has acquired the property at 3200 13th Street SE, which sits on the Congress Heights redevelopment site, where tenants have fought for three years against slumlords at Sanford Capital. Recent developments regarding the 3200 building at Congress Heights are indicative of the shocking decisions and deals the District makes with wealthy developers, with no regard to taxpayers or to working class residents of color in Washington, D.C.
It appears that the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) has recently, without informing tenants, acquired the site through a Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure. This means the former owners of that property have walked off with nearly 1 million dollars after defaulting on their obligations to provide affordable housing at that site, failing to pay property taxes on the site and keeping the property vacant and blighted throughout their ownership. What’s more, DHCD actually paid the owners another $175,000 for the property.
In order to facilitate the tenants’ successful purchase of their existing buildings through the TOPA process, the Tenants at Congress Heights are demanding that 3200 13th Street SE be transferred by the District to their chosen non-profit housing development partner. The transfer of the property to tenant’s development partner will help facilitate the construction of 200 meaningfully affordable housing units on the proposed redevelopment site. The transfer would also send a strong message to slumlords across the District that their behavior will not be tolerated. Currently the District government refuses to do this and plans to sell it on the open market.
It is of critical importance to note that if the District does not transfer this property over to the tenants’ chosen partner, and if the property is put up for public auction, it will be possible for slumlords and slum developers working with Sanford Capital to gain control, which would reward them for their unconscionable behavior and facilitate the displacement of the tenants at Congress Heights. These same tenants who have endured all of Sanford’s displacement tactics for years are being blatantly ignored by DHCD with the acquisition of 3200. Perhaps as retaliation for being largely responsible for exposing Sanford and the District Government’s collusion with slumlords.
Our fight is making progress, but it is also ongoing, please donate now to help us keep this fight going. Tenants are fighting some of the most powerful forces in the District, make sure they have the resources to keep going. We look forward to working together to put justice first at Congress Heights.