The District of Columbia's new housing director said yesterday he has directed a city-funded housing corporation to delay the purchase from a Washington developers of 41 run-down inner-city houses that would yield a profit of $150,000 to the developer.
Housing director Robert L. Moore said the purchase "is on hold" until the D.C. Development Corp. provides more information to the city housing department about the purchase. The corporation and developer H. R. Crawford, a former U.S. housing assistant secretary, had scheduled settlement for today.
Until he gets further "documentation," Moore said, "We will not sign off on the project." He declined to specify what information he requested from the development corporation, which acts as a sort of "extended arm" of the housing department in providing h ousing for the poor.
The Washington Post reported Tuesday that Crawford was selling the houses, which he purchased for $992,000, for $1.4 million. Crawford said then that his expenses reduced the potential profit on the homes to $150,00. He also contended that he could make much more money if he sold the homes individually on the open market.
Former D.C. Mayor Walter Washington announced last March that Crawford had bought the homes -- mostly in the Shaw neighborhood -- and was going to provide housing for the poor with the help of low-interest rehabilitation funds from the city and federal rent subsidies. Some of the homes were to be ready for low- and moderate-income families by last September.
But Crawford, who ran unsuccessfully for a City Council seat last year, said he ran into problems completing the project and approached the development corporation about purchasing them and taking over the project. Virtually nothing has been done to improve the houses, and most of them are vacant, abandoned shells.
Moore, who was appointed housing director recently by Mayor Marion Barry, said that he sees no problem with the sale at this point. But he said he still is reviewing documents.
Moore said his department's objective "is to make sure it turns out to be a good project for low- and moderate-income families... We don't want anybody ripping off the city."
Moore was asked whether there was any concern over a corporation that gets most of its funds from the city buying vacant properties at a time when the city already owns hundreds of such buildings. He responded only, "We are working hard to make sure people are put into our houses."
An assistant to Crawford said yesterday that Crawford had no comment on the change in settlement plans. D.C. Development Corp. officials could not be reached for comment.