September 2018 DHCD Connection Newsletter

Department of Housing and Community Development Connection

Letter from the DHCD Director

polly D

Greetings Washingtonians, 

There's much to celebrate about affordable housing in September! Most significantly, forty years ago this month, a law became effective that implemented the Home Purchase Assistance Program (HPAP). Over its history, HPAP has provided more than $210 million in down payment and closing cost assistance to help more than 7,700 District households purchase their first home.

DHCD will be celebrating this milestone at a special reception on September 26 in Anacostia. Join us as we celebrate the individuals and families who have benefited from HPAP, and recognize our partners.  

Next, we joined Mayor Bowser in celebrating a significant first for the District: affordable housing specifically for grandparents raising their grandchildren. Read more below about the vision that made Plaza West possible.

Looking forward, we will help the District Government launch Housing Week by marking another milestone in our Vacant to Vibrant DC initiative. If you want to learn how tiny home living can fit within the District's landscape, don't miss the unveiling of our demonstration project on September 24 with Mayor Bowser.

Look for upcoming announcements of Housing Week events, and check out our events calendar below.

We won't be slowing down in October, so stay tuned!

Polly Donaldson, DHCD Director

Follow me on Twitter: @maryrandolph

Roots to Roofs

Her Girls Have Their Own Room, Thanks to HPAP


Dorothy Nkem is a single mother whofor three yearswas living in a one bedroom apartment with her three girls. Her landlord didn't make her cramped quarters experience any easier by often harassing her about the number of people living in her apartment.

Nkem had tried to rent a two-bedroom apartment, but was considered under-qualified. 

Still, she never lost faith, and focused on a bigger dream of owning her own home. She reached out to Housing Counseling Services (HCS), which is a DHCD-funded community-based organization, and applied for HPAP. 

Now, she and her girls have their own space in a three-bedroom home in Deadwood. Nkem says homeownership has changed her life. 

“It’s a dream come true,” and “God answered my prayers,” said Nkem. She expresses gratitude for HCS and hopes that her story inspires others who may think that homeownership is out of reach.

We Had Two Grand Times Celebrating
DC's First Grandfamilies Development

mmb at pw

DHCD participated in two days of celebrating Plaza West, the District’s first residential housing designed for grandparents raising grandchildren. The District is the ninth city nationwide to have a residential grandfamilies program.

Plaza West, located at 1035 4th Street NW and 307 K Street NW, is a 223-unit affordable housing community for seniors and families in the Mount Vernon Triangle neighborhood of Ward 6. The project includes 50 grandfamily units, which will be made available to those making 30 to 40 percent of the Median Family Income (MFI). The Plaza West-Grandfamily Community Life Program was designed to create a grandfamilies “village,” rich with activities, on-site resources, and connections to services in the nearby community. The remaining 173 units will serve individuals and families making 50 percent to 60 percent MFI. Eleven units will be set aside for Department of Behavioral Health (DBH) clients. In addition, the development has over 9,500 square feet of outdoor recreational space and a range of amenities, including a library, a kids activity space, a fitness room, and a community room. 

On Sept. 13, DHCD joined Mayor Muriel Bowser in welcoming home the new residents. In her remarks, the Mayor noted that the project is a “remarkable example of what the faith community can do with their land and mission.” Bible Way Church is the sponsor of this project through its nonprofit affiliate, Golden Rule Plaza, Inc. GRP partnered with Mission First and the Henson Development Company to develop Plaza West. 

Resident Olivia Chase, who's raising her grandson, introduced the Mayor by saying, “I’m proud to be one of the first residents here at Plaza West and a part of a newly developed grandfamily community." Participants closed out that celebration with a banner signing, and the Mayor toured a unit with Director Donaldson, and asked several questions about how residents can apply for the rentals.

plaza west

 The next day, DHCD joined Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen, the Plaza West team, and the Bible Way Church family for a formal ribbon cutting ceremony. In her remarks, Donaldson noted that Plaza West was the result of government partners working together to make affordable housing projects happen: DHCD—which contributed over $18 million in Housing Production Trust Fund (HPTF) financing—the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED, the DC Housing Finance Agency (DCHFA), the DC Housing Authority (DCHA), and DBH.

HPTF Financing Will Help Preserve Affordable Housing for Over 220 Residents in Three Wards 

DHCD recently closed on five loans totaling more than $10.4 million that will preserve 220 units of affordable housing in Wards 4, 7 and 8. In three cases, tenant associations exercised the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) to purchase the properties and financing was provided through the HPTF. Most units will be set-aside for households making no more than $59,000 a year.

DHCD provided $1,395,086 in HPTF financing to a subsidiary of Mi Casa, Inc. to preserve 12 units of affordable housing at 5400 5th Street NW in the Brightwood Park neighborhood of Ward 4. The New Beginnings Tenant Association assigned its TOPA rights to Mi Casa in early 2017. All units have two bedrooms and one bath and will be designated as follows: (1) five units at or below $35,160 (30 percent MFI); (2) four units at or below $58,600 (50 percent MFI) and three units at or below $93,760 (80 percent MFI).

301 Delafield NW, LLC received $2,996,612 in HPTF financing to preserve a 23-unit building at 301 Delafield Place NW, also in Brightwood Park. The property is slated for comprehensive renovations as part of the Mi Casa Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) pool, and the loan will be used to fund eligible predevelopment and acquisition costs. The units’ affordability mix will be as follows: (1) seven at or below $35,160 (30 percent MFI); (2) nine at or below $58,600 (50 percent MFI); and (3) seven at or below $93,760 (80 percent MFI).

Ben E Group

The Ben-E Group Cooperative Association, Inc., received $2,517,596 in HPTF financing for the acquisition of two adjacent buildings at 4701 Benning Road SE and 4447 E Street SE in Ward 7. The cooperative, mostly consisting of long-time Ward 7 residents, invoked TOPA rights to acquire the 29 total units in the two buildings—consisting of 14 two-bedrooms, 14 one-bedrooms and one studio. The cooperative plans to preserve affordability as follows: (1) 25 units at or below $58,600 (50 percent MFI); (2) three units at or below $35,160 (30 percent MFI); and (3) one unit at or below $70,320 (60 percent MFI).

“On behalf of the Ben-E Group Cooperative we are truly thankful that DHCD believed in us, helped us to stay in our homes, and is a major factor in our progress,” said Cooperative President Shalon Wooden. See their video story.

DHCD provided $900,000 in HPTF financing to BCC Preservation Fund I LLC, an entity led by Manna Inc., for acquisition and critical repair costs at 2530-2532 Park Place SE in the Randle Heights neighborhood of Ward 7. The 2530-2532 Park Place Tenants Association assigned its TOPA rights to Manna in mid-2017. All 21 units have two bedrooms and one bath and will be designated as follows: six units at or below $35,160 (30 percent MFI) and 15 units at or below $58,600 (50 percent MFI). The units would remain affordable for 40 years and a rent stabilization plan would be developed for existing tenants.

22 atlantic

The 22 Atlantic Cooperative Association, Inc., received $2,669,924 in HPTF financing to help rehabilitate 15 units of affordable housing at 22 Atlantic Street SE in the Bellevue neighborhood of Ward 8. The cooperative plans to preserve affordability as follows: (1) eight units at or below $58,600 (50 percent MFI); (2); four units at or below $70,320 (60 percent MFI); and (3) three units at or below $35,160 (30 percent MFI).

“It has been a long time since we started the tenant purchase process, but we finally settled with DHCD and I can’t tell you how appreciative and thankful we are,” said Cooperative Vice President LaVerne Grant. Here's their video story.

Transforming Vacant Spaces

Tiny home

On Sept. 24, Mayor Bowser and DHCD
Will Be Envisioning Tiny Home Living, DC Style

Join Mayor Bowser, DHCD, as well as other government agencies and the Ward 7 community, as we celebrate the unveiling of a tiny home demonstration project, in partnership with the DC Students Construction Trades Foundation and students in the Academy of Construction and Design at IDEA Public Charter School.

This project is part of the Mayor's Vacant to Vibrant DC initiative, and will educate the public on how this housing trend can fit into the DC housing landscape. Here are the details:

  • Date and Time: Monday, Sept. 24, 2018 at 11 a.m.
  • Location: 1109 50th Place NE
  • RSVP here.

Small Business Booster


DHCD Grantee Tours Small Businesses
To Learn of Struggles, and Successes 

The Washington Area Community Investment Fund (Wacif) held its 2018 Community Investment Tour on September 12, featuring entrepreneurs who have received loans through its small business lending program, advisory and consulting services small business technical assistance programs, and cohort-based learning through the Ascend Capital Accelerator. The tour also featured the Minnesota Avenue corridor, where Wacif is providing small business services through the Minnesota Avenue Main Streets Program. Wacif is a DHCD grantee.

The tour focuses on dialogue with entrepreneurs at their place of business. They share stories of their entrepreneurial journey, struggles and successes they experienced along the way, and examples of how partnership with Wacif has helped them grow. Here are the entrepreneurs Wacif met during the tour.

  • Nubian Hueman: Founder Anika Hobbs graduated from Wacif’s Ascend Capital Accelerator and continues to consult team members on strategy and operational issues. Anika now provides support to emerging global entrepreneurs and artists in her supply chain.
  • New Creation Hair Salon: Owner Jauan Williams received a $20,000 loan and has succeeded, in the last three years, in filling all 10 chairs in her salon. She's now contemplating launching a cosmetology academy for young women in the Anacostia community.  
  • Savage Technical Services: Co-Founders Fred and Vanessa Savage are in Wacif's loan pipeline for potentially a $100,000 working capital loan. Fred and Vanessa are also launching an apprenticeship program for junior technicians.
  • Therapeutic Sessions: Wacif met founder Emika Embrack through the Minnesota Avenue Main Streets program. Wacif has  provided her with technical assistance with an eye to providing future financial and technical support.
  • Bikram Hot Yoga: Owner Kendra Dibinga has received two loans ($162,000 and $70,000) from Wacif. Her business is rapidly growing, with two new locations (including one in Boston) coming soon and a doubling in employees (from 25 to 50) this month.
  • Po Boy Jim: Co-founders Jeff Miskiri, Ian Reid, and Rebecca Antoine launched their first location with a $175,000 loan from Wacif. Their revenue has grown to well over $1 million, they have over 40 employees, and with a second $50,000 loan they were able to launch a second location in the Shaw neighborhood.

(Photo from left to right: Wacif Executive Director Harold Pettigrew sharing a laugh with entrepreneurs Fred Savage of Savage Technologies and Jauan Clark of New Creation Hair Salon.)

September 2018 Edition


Deadline Fast Approaching to Submit Affordable Housing Proposals

September 28 is the deadline for housing industry specialists to submit proposals seeking gap financing from the District Government for affordable housing projects.

Through its Summer 2018 Request for Proposals (RFP), DHCD will provide gap financing for projects that will produce new affordable housing units or preserve existing units. 

Application materials and further instructions can be found HERE.

Oct. 29 Is Last Day to Submit Offers to Transform Ward 8 Sites into Affordable Housing

Be a part of transforming vacant property into affordable housing. The deadline is October 29 to submit proposals in response to two Solicitations for Offers (SFOs) in the following Ward 8 neighborhoods:

Go here to request access in order to submit a proposal for the sites. For additional information and questions, contact

Reminder: Apply to $200K Grant Program to Help Fund Small Building Repairs

Small building owners in need of making critical repairs that will have the added benefit of preserving affordable housing can apply for DHCD funding.

The $200,000 Small Buildings Grant Program provides grants for limited systems replacement and other key repairs to buildings that meet certain criteria. Grants are available up to $25,000 per dwelling unit, with a maximum of $200,000 per project. Accordingly, funds are limited and will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. Applications are available online. For more information, contact or (202) 442-8392.


Over $1.4M in HPAP/ EAHP Goes to 29 Households in August

In August, 29 households in the District received more than $1.4 million in down payment and closing cost assistance to become first-time homeowners. Congratulations to our newest Home Purchase Assistance Program (HPAP) and Employer Assisted Housing Program (EAHP) recipients!

Quick Links

Here are some links to popular DHCD services:

Video Stories


Five homeowners share how it is possible to purchase affordable housing in DC. 


This video shares how we are helping residents by producing and preserving affordable housing, and revitalizing neighborhoods. 


We had great memories from the 10th Annual DC Housing Expo and Home Show. See video clips here and here (the second is thanks to WHUR).