The first major housing program of D.C. Mayor Marion Barryah's administration will make it almost impossible for lower-income families to afford the homes offered for sale.
An analysis of the plan, announced by Barry last week, shows that the poor would be forced to public housing and other subsidized apartments. Many of these people have been displaced from their homes throughout the city by urban renewal, private renovation or other factors.
Last week Barry announced a $35 million joint program of government and the private sector designed to rehabilitate 733 of the estimated 4,5000 vacant, boarded-up housing units in the city.
The program would offer condominiums, cooperatives and some homes for sale to moderate-income families. At least 50 homes, aome of them huge Victorian stuctures that include rental apartments, would apparently be sold to persons who earn more than $25,000 a year.
"People on welfare can't be homeowners," D.C.Housing Director Robert Moore said. "When the roof goes, they can't fix it... Homeownership for people making $3,000 a year can't happen. But how are they going to pay the heating bill?"
Moore said the housing program is intended to provide homeownership in economically mixed communities for some people earning about $14,000 a year. A federal government secretary at GS-6 who has worked for nine years would earn about that much.
One city housing official said, however, that many of the homes in the program will be toward those annually earning around $18,000 or in the low $20,000 range. This, for example, might include a family headed by an auditor or accountant who has worked for the federal governmemt for at least five years.
"This program does not mean open season for those making $12,000 to $13,000 a year," the official said.
A recet estimate of housing owned by the city shown about 1,020 apartments or homes that are either vacant or partialy owned.
Barry said that the cith will invest $10 million in loans for the program, and private lenders have committed another $25 million. All 733 units are to be fixed up by November, 1980, Barry said. Families displaced by urban renewal projects in the past are to have priority for all the houses, apartments, condominiums and cooperatives, abd some downpayment funds will be available to help thsem, city officials promised.
The vacant homes stand in various city neighborhoods as reminders of fading grandeur. On Girard Street NW, the six apartment builsings to be rehabilitated are gutted slums located across the stree from newly constructed, subsidized housing surrounded by vacant lots and dilapidated tot playgrounds -- all mute witnesses to drug sales on the street.
There are imposing red brice apartment buildings on 13th Street, and buildings on Holmead Place which remind one housing official of "castles." Now, have become eyesores that attract vandals, residents say.
Five homes on S Street in the mayor's rehabiltation package are in the same block as newly renovated rowhouses, a recreation department warehouse, and public housing. In the same neighborhood where private renovation has resulted in home selling for more than $1000,000, the old buildings have remnants of the iron grillwork, bay fronts, moldings, and other interesting architectural details which made them once resplendent.
"By all means, we want them fixed up," said Marguerite Snead, who lives on S Street NW. She said that she watches children shoot craps inside the vacant, trash-strewn homes on her way to church on Sunday mornings. "The mayor was on television one night and he said he's going to fix thim up. And I always think the best."
One of her S Street neighbors, an assistant principal, recalls that the homes "were beautiful houses before the city bought them." Drug addicts and "young fellows from 14th Street" periodically tear off the boards from the gaping windows and doorways, and dogs and winos found the homes a shelter during winter storms," she said.
Some community leaders and organizers, while applauding the Barry administration for its first step, said they aren't entirely satisfied. One community worked called the plan "another program for middle-income families" and complaind that not enough homeownership opportunities are provided for displaced poor people.
Lynn Cunningham of Neighborhood Legal Services called Barry's plan "a good start, but only a start... We won't settle for a loan program for only 733 units."
Henry Alston of the Center City Community Corp. said he concerned "as to who it is going to reach. That downpayment program won't stretch that far,"
According to 1979 census figures, the median income for D.C. families was $14,000 a year. A family earning that amount may qualify for a $25,000 morttgage loan at current market rates. However, none of the houses in the program are priced that low.
Housing officials said that they hope to ease that problem by using $900,000 to provide downpayment money to nbring down the price of the homes. Moore side he has requested an additional $900,000 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Some of the purchasers will receive "double and triple subsidies." Moore said. larry Bonner, an Advisory Neighborhood commissioner in Ward One, voiced another concern of ther community representatives who have watched urban renewal programs displace thousands of people. "what the mayor plans to do is commendable," Bonner said. "but I also belive that because of past neglect, those whose houses were boarded up in the first place will not benefit."
Moore said the city will try to relocate displaced through media advertisements and through community groups like the United Planning Organization.
One way in ahich the city could provid homeownership opportunities for hundreds of lower-income families is through its homesteading program. This program allown families to puchase properties for as little as $1 and to then get low-interest rehabilitation loans which usually require a monthly payment of about $150 a month.
Barry's program includes 42 urban homestead properties. Homesteaders have alrrady been selected by lot for 12of them. The other 30 homes are in the Brookland area in Northeast, and persons who have been displaced from that neighborhiid have priority for those homes.
Moore said that he never considered uning the urban homesteading program for all the city-owned units. "We had to do it different to achieve an economic mix." he said. "We wanted a mix of different kinds of ownerchip. Besides, urban homesteading is slow."
Moor also said that he thought it was "financially impossible" to use all of the homes for urban homesteading because the city properties had been purchased under the urban renewal program, and those loans must be paid back.
Thirty percent of the vacant units to be rehabilitated under the Barry plan are in Northeast and Southeast, and 80 percent of those units are slated for public housing.
Another 23 percent are in the 14th Street area. Forty-sevespercent are in Shaw and other near Northwest communities, with a heavy concentration in the Bates Street neighborhood.
The following is a description of apartments and houses covered by the Barry plan:
Eighty-two condominiums at lst Street and New York Avenue NW to be subsidized and sold for an sverage of $31,000 each; 36 cooperative units at 49 1 St. NW that the city hopes HUD will approve for subsidized cooperative units selling for between $28,000 and $35,000.
No 18 Logan Circle, one homeownership unit and one subsidized rental unit whose purchaser has tetatively been designated as Patricia Press; four apartments in two buildings on Holmead Place NW, where the city has a grant to intall solar heating on an experimental basis; 56 Public housing apartments at 1456 Oak St. NW; 100 apartments in six buildings on Girard Street NW to be used for subsidized rental units, low-priced condominiums (about approval of UUD; 10 units of public housing at Dubois and D streets SE and on 35th Street NE; Urban homesteading for 12 scattered homes which will sell for $1 each and whose purchasers can get low-interest, 20-year rehabilitation loans; urban same low-income loans are available; 38 rowhouses on Bates Street to sell for about $65,000 each; 40 Bates Streets Street homes whmes interest rates will be subsidized; 38 public housing units on Bates Street; 44 Bates rowhouses whose prices have not yet been set, but to sell below market rate; 7 Bates Street apartments rented at market rate;
19 properties in Shaw and the Sireet area to be sold or given to nonprofit church and community groups to provide for moderate-income families; 11 homes scattered throughout Shaw that the city plans to gear toward those making no more than $27,000 a year. These contain rental units.
In addition, the city plans to fix up 56 public housing units at the Deanwood Gardens complex at 54th, and Clay streets NE; 40 units in the Fort Dupont public housing complex at Pidge and Anacostia roads SE; 40 units at Valley Green at 3916 Wheeler Rd. SE; 8 units at Highland Dwellings, 400 Atlantic ST. SE; and 40 other public housing units scattered