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Amanda Ripley’s blurb on our project at 8th and P Streets NW (City Desk, 9/5) not only distorts my comments but also fails to provide the reader with any semblance of the truth of the situation. In fact, it would better provide a casebook example of poor, biased journalism.
The Homestead Program became involved in the project at the urging of the tenants of the buildinga group of elderly citizens who long had lived in the poorly maintained building owned by someone who had not invested in improvements for a number of years. The bank that held the note had been considering foreclosure for some time but was reluctant to assume responsibility for the building. The Department of Finance and Revenue had offered the property for sale in tax sales for five consecutive yearsto no avail. Therefore, to assist the residents and to stimulate investment, the city took title to the property in lieu of $113,844 in delinquent taxes.
The city quieted all claims to the title in a process that took four months and immediately offered its tenants the right of first refusal, which they accepted. They organized themselves, took title as the New Hope Cooperative, and hired Manna as their developer. They plan to do a gut rehabilitation and develop the building as a 16-unit cooperative of senior citizens. It is an ideal location for senior citizens, in that it is across the street from the Shaw Giant, where they can both shop and have prescriptions filled.
Their biggest (and most time-consuming) challenge, however, has been in working out the financing. Manna has located grants for them from the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, PEPCO, a linkage grant, and Manna’s own Capstone Fundthe sum total of which will reduce the size of the mortgage. This was necessary, as senior citizens have fixed incomes and cannot afford large mortgage payments.
All of this was explained to Ripley, and it is unclear how she came to make a representation that any promise of a neighborhood renaissance had been made by this program. And had she taken accurate notes of our conversation, she would have reported that my response to her inquiry about the sign’s presence was that it offers a telephone number for the use of neighbors who might wish to report any breaking-and-entry or other problems during this transitional period. Additionally, if Ripley were to visit any other municipality, she would note that it is pro forma for the mayor’s name to appear on city signs. Why not report the simple truth about a progressive project that will benefit 16 elderly city residents?
Homestead Program Administrator
Department of Housing
and Community Development
The Editor replies: Again, City Paper stands by the facts as reported.