Washington, DC

“Dear PoPville,

What should DC do with houses that it “owns” due to vacancy or tax issues?

I have an interesting example of one way the DC gov has tried to solve this issue. I think that if the DC gov works on this they have the opportunity to be a flexible and agile, expediter of state owned properties while creating revenue and eliminating blight.

I have attached a picture of 514 3rd St NE from January 2009 when the DC gov was going to auction it off along with other properties. I was interested in bidding on the place and then the day of the auction the property was not put up for sale.

Per property records the home has been owned by the DC government since June 2006.

I contacted the DC GOV back in 2009 and here is what I learned….

“The District reserves the right to remove any of the auction properties from the auction prior to the event, and 514 3rd ST, NE has been removed from the auction. The property will be included in an upcoming turnkey development solicitation, whereby DHCD will coordinate with the Office of Contracting and Procurement to contract directly with a construction company or a fee developer to rehabilitate the structure. The rehabilitated structure will then be offered for sale, below market rate, to affordable households. The anticipated issuance of the OCP solicitation should be by the second week of February.

Thank you,

Martine Combal
Property Acquisition
and Disposition Division (PADD)
Department of Housing
and Community Development”

Fast forward several years and the house is back on the market in a ‘rehabbed” state, paid for by the DC gov.


The “affordable house rule” no longer applies. The only major stipulation is that you must use it as your primary residence for 5 years.

While I like that DC has put the house back into working order I would suggest that DC can improve on this process in several ways.

First, the government held onto the property for almost 5 years. That is far too long.

Second, the renovation is on the low end based on the REDFIN pics and only 1.5 baths for a 3 bedroom house which means the GOV will lose potential income ($300,000,000 budget shortfall I am looking at you).

Nicely rehabbed houses in this area go for at least $100,000 more than they are asking for this place.



So what do your readers think should have been done with this and other DC GOV owned properties?

Overall, I think the DC gov tried to do something interesting with this house and I am happy to see the house finally moving back onto the open market and making the neighborhood nicer.”


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