The city may now have to pay $400,000 to give this building away. (Lydia DePillis)

So, this bit from last week’s Council legislative meeting warrants highlighting: Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham is asking for $400,000 to cover the back taxes and remaining acquisition debt incurred by Central Union Mission’s purchase of 3512 Georgia Avenue N.W. in 2006. The charitable organization originally wanted to build a men’s homeless shelter there, but backed down after community members—and Graham—loudly opposed it. Then, the Mission tried to build affordable apartments, but that didn’t work out either. Finally, they agreed to sell the building to the team developing the Park Morton mixed-income residential project a couple blocks south, and move its shelter downtown to the District-owned Gales School. That couldn’t happen, however, until the building was clear of tax debt, which the Mission can’t afford to pay.

The upshot: Because Graham and community members didn’t want homeless people concentrated on rapidly-developing Georgia Avenue, the city—which is now $175 million in the hole—will have to pay $400,000 to make the switcharoo work. Kind of makes you wish this had been sorted out ahead of time.

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