Washington, DC

Photo by PoPville flickr user John Cochran

“Dear PoPville,

My neighbors and I are effectively trapped into our affordable housing coop units at the 1417 N Street Cooperative. We bought into a limited equity cooperative in which sales can only go to buyers making under 80% of the Area Median Income. Just like any condo/coop purchase, an owner is obligated to pay their monthly fees (950-1300 in this building) until they find another buyer, but no sales can happen unless the DC Department of Housing and Community Development approves their eligibility.

The problem is that the approval process for applicants is taking months at a time, applicants are not allowed to get updates or communicate with the agency, and the agency does not give estimated timelines. Can you imagine trying to buy an apartment and having to wait anywhere between a week and 6 months (which is how long it took one applicant) to hear back about your eligibility?

The sale prices for these are super low (~$1500 for studios), which means the costs associated with waiting are more than twice the value of the apartment.

Neighbors have gotten jobs in other cities and have found buyers who ended up walking away after a few months of waiting. We have sellers who are burdened with carrying costs for vacant affordable housing units in Logan Circle and nobody seems to be able to help us fill them. Our pleas to government officials have not been productive and we are out of ideas.

I did not plan to leave, but I am afraid that keeping this affordable housing will tie me down if I get a job or graduate school opportunity. This is government bureaucracy at its worst.”


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