The federal HOPE VI redevelopment program aims, in part, to provide opportunities to small, minority-owned contractors. At the Henson Ridge HOPE VI development in Ward 8, though, opportunity comes with a catch: Contractors who’d been paid every two weeks or 30 days for previous HOPE VI work have waited as long as 60 days for payment. Robert Green II, president of D.C.’s chapter of the National Association of Minority Contractors, says the 10 members on the project don’t have deep enough pockets to handle such cash-flow interruptions. Green, a plumbing contractor, says he’s borrowed money to meet payroll. Vicki Davis, president of Mid-City Urban, the project’s developer, says delays are common with government contracts. The payment problem, Davis says, “has the attention of the highest levels” of local and federal officials overseeing Henson Ridge: “Our goal is to shorten [the payment schedule] to 30 days.”

—Annys Shin