When the renovators moved into the 1700 block of Seaton Street NW last year, 10 of the 23 families who received eviction notices giving them 30 days to move dicided they would not be moved.
The 10 represented the first group of inter-city renters who had attempted to resists the wave of restoration that is washing through the city's close-in neighboods, pushing out the poorer tenants and bringing in middle-class homeowners.
The 10 went to court, and last month their new landlord, Centre Properties, offered them a chance to buy the rundown houses that they call home.
The court has not ruled on the tenants' contention that the landlord violated the city's rent control law by failing to offer te tenants the property last year before issuing the eviction notices.
But the court has decided that the tenants must show evidence that they can afford the housee. The Adams-Morgan Organization is seeking to raise $50,000 as part of the down payment needed to buy the 10 homes. An estimated $20,000 has already been raised.
"It's great, it's really great," said Joseph Lewis Jr. of 1738 Seaton St., one of the 10 residents involved, of the fund-raising effort.
Lewis and his nine neighbors want to buy their homes, but have not been able to save enough money for the down payments.
Their plight is similar to that of most of the tenants who find themselves being evicted so their homes can be renovated. Although most apparently are offered a chance to buy their homes, in accordance with the law, the law becomes empty for them because they cannot raise the down payments.
Lorenzo Jacobs, director of the city's housing department, speaking at a hearing on the effect of renovation on poor people last week, said the city's program of leading down payment money to poor tenants to allow them to become homeowners must be expanded.
Currently the city has only $308,000 available in down payment loans and only tenants living in the formerly designated Model Cities neighborhood are eligible to receive the loans, according to officials at the quasi-public D.C. Development Corporation, which administers the program.
Seaton Street is about two blocks outside the Model Cities boundaries.
Thirty-one families with an average income of $12.400 a year have become homeowners because of the loans and four other families are scheduled to receive them in the near future, DCDC officials said. Then the money will all be expended.
Julius Phillips, who directs the loan program, said his organization had tried unsuccessfully for two years to persuade Jacobs to include a city-wide down payment loan program in the housing department budget.