We need your help to ensure the District of Columbia focuses its policies and resources on preserving affordable housing for our residents. Lately, the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) has been working instead to feed the profits of corporate developers and known slumlords. It is time for that to change.
On February 26, tenants of the slumlord Sanford Capital, along with representatives of Justice First, demanded the D.C. Council investigate DHCD’s involvement in a new proposed development in Congress Heights by Sanford and Geoffrey Griffis, a super-rich developer. That project is displacing longtime District residents, and in fact is only benefiting slumlords and big corporate developers.
Click here to visit the “Support Congress Heights” section of the Justice First website, where you can find background information on the planned development, testimony from tenants, downloadable materials and much more.
Testimony from residents and Justice First’s Director of Field Operations, Eugene Puryear, outlined DHCD’s role in the project, in particular the forgiveness of a loan of District funds worth almost $1 million. We want to know why DHCD would swallow a loss of $1 million of our funds. That forgiveness certainly isn’t in the interest of District residents, not only because of the huge monetary loss. That forgiveness would allow Sanford and Griffis to build luxury units in place of the affordable units there now, jump-starting large-scale gentrification, driving out residents, and destroying communities in Ward 8.
In response to this testimony, DHCD officials admitted they were aware of this particular issue; they said DHCD has a “strong interest” and even the ability to get involved, and were reviewing all current loans. DHCD staff committed to meeting with Congress Heights tenants.
But beyond that, DHCD admitted that this was part of a larger, broken process where the agency, which is the primary agency for affordable housing, has indeed been asleep at the wheel on its own mission. Not only are they failing to fully utilize District funding set aside for housing the poorest residents of D.C., they aren’t meeting legally mandated obligations for affordable housing funds.
We Need Your Help to Make a Difference
We have to push DHCD to work for residents – to make sure we have safe, affordable housing, not to make sure slumlords and millionaires profit. Here’s how you can help:
- First, send a letter to DHCD director Polly Donaldson at firstname.lastname@example.org to demand DHCD ensures repayment of our money and works with tenants to produce a better plan in Congress Heights, one that will benefit current and future tenants, as well as this longtime and historic neighborhood. We’ve provided some language you can use here. Please copy us on your e-mail by CCing email@example.com so we can follow up and make sure DHCD is listening to District residents!
- Second, call DHCD at (202) 442-7200 and use our sample letter for talking points. We have to k