This is in response to the story titled “Arrested Development” (12/19):
H.R. Crawford and Crawford/Edgewood Managers Inc. (CEMI) are actively working with residents to create a kind of environment that encourages residents to not only “own” but maintain their property, take stock in their community, and have neighbors who will do the same. These are the types of community residents who will reside at the Walter E. Washington Estates. A “community” is comprised of people, not bricks and mortar. If a community is troubled, it is the residents who make it so.
During the relocation process, the residents of the Ridgecrest Heights complex had the option to take their Section 8 vouchers and relocate wherever they wished. Many chose to relocate to the suburbs of Maryland and Virginia, although some stayed at various properties within the District. Ms. Florence Smith, former president of the Ridgecrest Heights Tenant Association, had a choice as to where she could relocate, and she was not required at any time to reside at a property managed by Crawford/ Edgewood Managers Inc. I would strongly recommend that you check the veracity of the various statements made by Smith.
The Parkside Terrace Apartments, as well as the Southeast community as a whole, is undergoing an aggressive and necessary transformation. Working with various branches of law enforcement combined with assertive property management practices, we are actively in the process of ridding the Parkside Terrace property of the criminal element and drug activity, as well as providing repair to the physical structure, which has been long overdue. Although the significant transformation is difficult and lengthy, a great deal of progress has been made. There are many tenants who have resided in the building before CEMI took over management, and I encourage you to talk to them directly about the numerous improvements that have taken place on the property.
All transactions and negotiations with the Ridgecrest Tenants Association were aboveboard and legal. A legitimate deal has been negotiated with the assistance and input of the Ridgecrest Tenants Association. The tenants were not required to select CEMI as the developer of the project but were confident about the ability of H.R. Crawford to transform their community. The inspector general of the Department of Housing and Urban Development has conducted their investigation into the grant award process and has found no wrongdoing. Ms. Smith was apprised of all actions at every step of the process, and it can be argued that she was not ignorant of all facts before rendering a signature to any check or document.
The low purchase price for a brand-new Walter E. Washington Estates town home does not come without certain requirements of the purchaser, and being a former resident of Ridgecrest does not “automatically” qualify one for home purchase. Residents were made well aware of the requirements throughout the transaction. Very basic requirements are that the purchaser must be employed and have relatively good credit. Potential purchasers must attend various home-buyer workshops by the sponsoring lending institutions and D.C. Housing Finance Agency, which will educate purchasers about how to improve their creditworthiness and to determine how much house can realistically be afforded. If a potential purchaser has marginal credit or bad credit, they must make the effort to attend these seminars so that they can improve their credit and prepare for purchase. From the very beginning, former residents of Ridgecrest Heights have been given priority as Walter E. Washington Estates home-buyers and provided adequate time to participate, improve credit ratings if necessary, and ultimately prepare for purchase.
Thirty of the town homes will be available to the former residents of Ridgecrest Heights for approximately $85,000. Additionally, as the developer of the project, CEMI will allow former residents of Ridgecrest to apply a portion of their Section 8 assistance toward the purchase of their homes for a period of two years. As the public assistance system is currently structured, it is extremely difficult if not impossible to purchase a home as a welfare recipient. However, as public assistance will be radically changing in the very near future by requiring recipients to work, the residents of the Walter E. Washington Estates will have an advantage by already being employed.
The development fees to be received from the construction and operation of the Walter E. Washington Estates have been fairly negotiated with the Ridgecrest Tenants Association. All fees were disclosed and discussed prior to consummation of the transaction.
In printing this article, Washington City Paper has provided incomplete, and thus inaccurate, information regarding money received from HUD and my departure from HUD. Your publication fails to articulate that the $3.3 million in payments received from HUD were for the operation of the Roosevelt Apartments for Seniors over a period of four years, and was not profit made by CEMI. If the City Paper took the time to verify my rather constructive history at HUD, not only did I champion urban homesteading, I was there to implement what was an extremely successful program. The City Paper has once again neglected to verify information and therefore continues to perpetuate false and inaccurate information about myself and my business operations. We have former HUD secretaries indicted on various charges, assistant HUD secretaries who have gone to jail. As a former assistant secretary of HUD, my departure was a result of resignation from this position. I believe that in light of what other HUD officials have experienced, any concern about my departure is rather low on the “scale of scandal.” I’ve moved on, and I would hope that the media would do the same.
Crawford/Edgewood Managers Inc.