Tenants of an affordable Columbia Heights apartment building appear to have saved themselves from being priced out of their homes, thanks to the help of a D.C.-based nonprofit.
Jubilee Housing plans to buy a 30-unit building at 1460 Euclid St. NW next month for $6 million from Euclid Street LLC and extensively rehabilitate it for existing residents while keeping the rents affordable at $600 to $700 per month. The property has an assessed value of $3.43 million, according to the D.C. tax office.
The purchase comes after the current landlord notified tenants of plans to sell the property to an entity that planned market-rate housing, said Jim Knight, executive director and president of Jubilee. Tenants then organized under the District’s Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act and assigned their acquisition rights to Jubilee.
“If they hadn’t exercised their TOPA rights, they would have been under pressure,” Knight said. “They would have certainly been at risk of being priced out.”
TOPA was established in the 1970s to preserve affordable housing and provide more opportunities for low-income individuals and families to own homes. Under TOPA, renters can assert their right to purchase their homes.
Jubilee’s anticipated October acquisition marks the second investment financed in part by its Justice Housing Partners Fund, which it created to help acquire and rehab buildings in communities across the District that have become less affordable over the years.
Jubilee’s first buy was a 35,000-square-foot office building at 1724 Kalorama Road NW for $8 million — using $1.3 million from the fund along with loans from United Bank and DC LISC. The company will renovate that building next year into five stories of affordable housing and community services.
Renovations to the Euclid Street building are expected to begin in a year, after the company lines up low-income tax credits and funding from the Department of Housing and Community Development and the city’s Housing Production Trust Fund. Jubilee plans to add some “pizazz” to the building with an elevator, rooftop amenities, family-sized apartments and a new façade, Knight said.
“It will really bring it back to life if you will,” Knight said.
Total development costs amount to about $16 million. Work is expected to take about a year.
During construction, Jubilee will find nearby temporary housing for tenants that “will be double or triple” the cost of their current rents. Knight said Jubilee will pay the difference. And when they moved back in, they’ll pay their existing rents.
Jubilee’s fund is allowing the nonprofit to create affordable housing in rapidly gentrifying areas of the District and reduce displacement. Alex Orfinger, executive vice president of American City Business Journals and former publisher of the Washington Business Journal, is a Jubilee board member and is leading the fundraising efforts.
The fund has raised $3.5 million so far.
For all of its properties, Jubilee aims to make two-thirds of its units affordable to those making no more than 30 percent of the area median income — $117,200 for 2018 — and one-third at 60 percent of AMI or below.
“In a high cost city like D.C., there is quite a bit of income variation between 0 and 60 percent AMI and the building will see that level of diversity,” Knight said.
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