The financing will help National Housing Trust-Enterprise Preservation Corporation (NHTE) acquire and hold the property as it plans for a significant renovation. NHTE purchased the property in partnership with the 13th St and Savannah SE Tenants Association. Under the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA), a D.C. law that requires that landlords provide tenants with the opportunity to match a third party offer to purchase the property before selling it through an open market transaction, tenants have the option of purchasing the property outright or assigning purchase rights to another party. The Tenants Association chose to assign their purchase rights to NHTE, which will help update and preserve the affordable apartments.
The property is comprised of 65 garden style apartments in two courtyard structures and three buildings. The structures, which are well maintained but dated, will receive energy efficiency improvements, new HVAC and plumbing systems, new kitchens and baths, new roofs, accessibility upgrades, new windows and exterior doors, and a new community building. While some temporary relocation will likely be needed during the renovations, no residents will be displaced from the property. Many long-term residents in the building currently pay rents affordable at 30% and 50% of the area median income.
The 13th and Savannah apartment buildings are located in Ward 8 by the Congress Heights Metro station. The Congress Heights neighborhood suffered significant decline beginning in the 1960s and is marked by blight, high crime, high unemployment and substandard housing. The area has a 40% poverty rate and a median household income of $31,000 in a metro area with an area median income of $108,000. The property is also within walking distance of multiple schools and community parks and is only 0.4 miles away from the nearest grocery store.
Washington, D.C. real estate has experienced significant upward pressure in the last decade with median rent increasing by 50% over the last 10 years. Those pressures have led to significant gentrification in areas across the District, recently including Ward 8. Just across the street from the apartment building is the redevelopment site of the St. Elizabeth hospital site. The former 176-acre mental hospital site is being redeveloped to include: the new headquarters of the Department of Homeland Security, an innovation hub, a new facility for the Washington Mystics basketball team, 500 multi-family units, single family homes and significant office and retail space.
Reinvestment Fund is partnering with NHT Community Development Fund, City First Enterprises and Housing Partnership Fund on the financing. The project will preserve much needed naturally occurring affordable housing in Washington DC.