Horse’s Ass Award Nominee Getting Fixed Up at 329 Rhode Island Ave NE

Below the reader, Steven Conn, details the process he took to encourage the property owners improve or sell the blighted property.

“Dear PoP,

I am just happy that the building is being returned to being a productive member of society.

1. My community members and I urge DCRA to designate the property as blighted (composed evidence with pictures, etc)
2. DCRA agrees to blight the property after my neighbors and I convinced the Board of Unsanitary and Condemned Buildings at one of their hearings.
3. The building owner panicked, and went back to previous buyers that he previously declined offers from, and asked if they were still interested (so he could sell it before he had to pay the increased, blighted taxes)
4. Before buying the building, Ramin Bassam (principal of PERS Development) reached out to neighbors and I to see if we would support an effort to get DCRA to temporarily lift the “blighted status” so he could get financing to re-develop the building (apparently banks won’t give financing for re-development of blighted buildings).
5. Neighbors and I agreed that if Ramin Bassam would agree to 1) not seek public financing keep all financing private, and not seek public financing which would bring with it Section 8 housing, etc 2) begin construction by 30SEP10, and 3) keep the previous owner from being a going concern in retail planning etc, that we would support the appeal to DCRA to temporarily lift the blighted status of the building so he could secure his financing
6. Ramin agreed to our 3 criteria, and we went forward to lobby DCRA to temporarily lift the blighted status, which they did two weeks ago (tomorrow).
7. Ramin got his financing the next day, closed on the bldg the following day, and started re-hab (first he has to clear out the debris) the following Monday!

So, it turned into a success story (so far so good), that hopefully other communities may use to abate their streets of vacant buildings owned by negligent landlords!”

Here is the article from DCmud about the new developer. Ed. Note: The article incorrectly gives me credit for the power point presentation which was submitted by Steven Conn (who wrote the above note as well).

You can see the original Horse’s Ass Award nomination here.

22 Comment

  • Not so sound condescending, but I’m a little confused by condition #2 “not seek public financing keep all financing private, and not seek public financing which would bring with it Section 8 housing”.

    Why such the hard stand against Section 8 housing? Is it your belief that with Section 8 residents comes the deterioration of your neighborhood? Most people who recieve Section 8 housing are not unemployed, lazy, or low-lifes. District rent is ridiculously high and Section 8 is the only way for many to have an affordable and nice apartment.

    I take great offense to what the OP and said neighbors requested!

    • because density of low income housing has a loooong history of being destructive. this area is dense with section 8 and social services.
      this space is also two blocks from what is being touted as the “largest public housing project in dc”.

      if you advocate a large concentration of low income and subsidized housing in a small area you are handicapping people and their children.

    • I take it you are either new to DC, new to this blog, or both… Is it your belief that Section 8 residents enhance your neighborhood? Do you have any empirical data to define “most people”? The District is a pretty big place, there are many very affordable areas of the city… what is ridiculously high? Is Section 8 the only way or just a way that allows landlord profiteering and politicians to control masses of people under the guise of fairness and equality?

      • The easiest way to fix that is to not allow landlords and zoning to refuse section 8 and other housing assistance as an income source. As someone that has used such assistance in the past in both California and New York — it was part of my determining that DC wasn’t a place that I’d care to live. One more element where the social safety net just didn’t feel adequate — lack of good public medical facilities and required disability insurance are others.

        • Easiest way? That doesn’t sound very easy… The easiest way would be for rent subsidies not to exist. The idea that lower-income people would be shoved out to west virginia because they wouldn’t be able to afford anything closer is ridiculous. Proof – the commercial real estate market. Class A properties on down the chain, integrated throughout the city, suburbs, x-urbs etc… instant integration b/c the gov’t doesn’t meddle in it.

          • the government doesn’t meddle with commercial real estate?

            just step away from the tea party m’am.

          • How does the government subsidize tenant rents in commercial real estate? Does the government mandate that banks give loans to companies so they can afford to pay rent in Class A office space? Does it require Class B prices in Class A spaces? Do they not allow Class B spaces to be converted to Class a spaces because the market commands more Class A space? Really, that’s interesting, I haven’t been near the Tea Party. Do you lack the ability to honestly assess rent subsidies or do you just support it because that’s the liberal thing to do (as long as it’s not in upper NW)?

        • No, the easiest and best way to fix it is to reform the Section 8 program to make it more secure and reliable for landlords to participate. Even if 80% of section eight tenants are great, a landlord still has a 20% chance of a nightmare. Too big a risk for anyone with other options – i.e. not a slumlord.

          • Isn’t that the purpose of security deposits? Do they exist for the 20% chance of a nightmare or at all when you have vouchers? The private rental market has risks also, that’s why you have credit checks, income qualification, and security deposits.

    • The Section 8 tenents on my street are most definitly unemployed lazy lowlifes. One has been running a stolen car ring, one has been dealing drugs, none work or look after thier wild children. They don’t cut the grass. I would say the are definitly a drag on the neighborhood.

      • saf

        Do you live on my block? We have ONE house that is rented through that program. It is the problem house on the block. Has been ever since it went to rental. (used to have another one, but it was sold and has been fixed up and is owner-occupied now.)

  • I am Steven. My house is directly behind the building, that’s why I was so passionate to get it designated as \blighted\ so the owner would have to sell, and my plan worked.

    Regarding Section 8, of course many people need the assistance to be able to afford to pay rent and no not everyone on Section 8 is bad. My block has 10 rowhouses on it. When I bought, there were only 3 section 8 houses on the block. After two separate households moved out to avoid having their kids wrapped up in the drugs and street life, they rented their homes to section 8 households, and now there are 5 section 8 homes on the block. That’s 5/10, or 50% of the homes on my block receiving section 8 assistance – more than our fair share. And with a 4 story battered women’s shelter, Edgewood Terrace (largest public assistance housing complex in DC) a block up 4th Street, and countless other public assistance locations in the direct vicinity, my neighbors and I felt that if we were to lend our energy to lobby DCRA to temporarily lift the blighted status so the developer could get his funding so he could buy the building and re-hab it, we needed a security blanket (keep all funding private) to avoid even more public programs or housing being brought to our neighborhood. It’s not a NIMBY approach, but a \we already have enough in our backyard\ approach.

    Of course Section 8 homes aren’t bad. The household directly next to me are awesome and respectful. On the other hand, the 4 households down the block have been busted for everything from prostitution and drugs, to illegally breeding pitbulls, and other offenses – I’m sure (I’m out of town a lot and don’t always see what’s going on). 🙂

  • P.S. and thanks to PoP for helping us get the exposure we needed to get DCRA off their ass and designate the building as blighted, since it displayed every criteria listed on DCRA’s website of a “blighted” property. Like I said, the process worked – get vacant buidlings “blighted” which causes negligant building owners to sell, and then cooperate with developers who want to buy the buildings and return them to positive contributors to society! Have a great night!

  • Any idea what the building sold for? It will be public info soon, so this wouldn’t be divulging anything private.

    • The DC MUD article, or the Washington Business Journal article (I can’t remember which) said it sold for 1.5M if I remember correctly?

  • Steven,

    You do know that landlords in DC aren’t allowed to discriminate based on source of income, right? That means if it’s a rental building and someone comes with a Section 8 voucher, they can’t be turned away for that.

    Now, maybe the developer won’t seek project-based section 8 subsidies (housing choice vouchers are a different part of section 8). Maybe it’ll become a condo building where everyone has to owner-occupy. Or maybe they’ll have really strict credit and criminal background checks that keep away some voucher-holders (and other people). But they can’t just flat out not take section 8.,a,3,q,491858,ohrNav,|30953|.asp has more info.

    • It’s going to be sold as condos, not rentals. Sure, if people buy them as investments, then they can rent to whoever they want.

  • Isn’t Fort Lincoln by far the largest public housing complex in the city? Anyone with a definitive answer/source?

  • The authorities who oversee various forms of subsidized housing had a choice to make many years ago: either police the housing and toss out troublemakers, or stand by idly and watch as any support for such programs eroded. They chose the latter.

    That’s why they are slowly being phased out. There’s *way* too much public housing in DC. Time to give a very large portion of those folks vouchers and let them move to the suburbs where it’s cheaper.

  • hud section 8 should have ended long ago,all it does is bring on slum drug landlords who rent to section 8 drug people,who start out with 3 or 4 in residential nice houses,then move 8 or more in. here there is occupancy laws.They have been arrested in one house about 4 times in last several months and hand cuffed.for drugs in car and car theft,this is in my neighborhood,the slum landlord wants to buy other houses cheap to rent out to section 8 drug people that suck off the system,and ruin nice neighborhoods.and watch your houses when you leave for work to break in.they steal cars,try and run people out of their homes. they have drug crack,cocain,meth 23 or so cars up and down sreet,ever sinse they moved in section 8 rental houses this has been going on for awhile now they have mushroomed in houses,we need Military Police or swat teams to arrest these criminals and restore order to our communitys.They need to have houseing,if any in city projects.They shouldn,t be put in houses at all.young people need to go to work,they live off system all their lives,it was never ment to be this way.They are in dangering our communities,They even have shot at police.they need to be thrown in jail for 20 years,they go to stores steal,with all the time they have doing nothing.Our system is calapsing because of all these freeloaders. other people who have been paying on their homes for 21 years or so loose their houses because of job loss and they can,t pay their taxes,these people don,t get any handouts.Drugs and crime is worse because of it.we need to compain tn our senators amd other officials.The disabled and war vets,skould be helped.Put public houseing for low income if at all in city projects only,and only temporarary until soe get on ther feet,not a lifetime,and ride around in mercedes,stolen by no means.We need help.start writting to put something into law to protect others from this plaque…

  • This guy is a crook, you can smell these guys a mile a way.

Comments are closed.