A Northeast Washington Homeowner, who was barred from borrowing city funds to renovate his home because his income was too high, yesterday filed a $20 million suit in D.C. Superior Court against the city government. He said he was filing on behalf of himself and 200 other Washington homeowners in similar situations, according to the suit.
Kenneth Walker, 28, of 1119 Staples Street NE, said he was told by city officials that he would be eligible for a loan to repair housing code violations in his home when he applied for funds on March 27, 1978, according to the suit.
But last June, Robert L. Moore, executive director of the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development, instituted a new policy that denied such loans to persons with an annual income of more than $18,000, according to the suit.
Walker, who said he was earning $23,000 as a reporter at The Washington Star when he submitted his application, said in the suit that he and about 200 other loan applicants were not told until June that they might be denied loans because of their income levels.
At the time he requested the loan, Walker said, he was given "no indication that his income would be disqualifying nor was he given any such indication at any time prior to the policy change last June.
Walker said yesterday that, proceeding on the assumption that he would receive a low-interest loan to renovate his home, and acting "at the suggestion of city housing officials," he hired an architect and spent nearly $3,000 on floor plans and architects' fees.
"I believe I'm the kind of person the loan program was designed for," Walker said yesterday. "I'm a native Washingtonian. I inherited a slum of a house that I would like to fix up and live in. All these years I've watched this money go to rich people who did not need it."
Moore announced last June that changes were being made in the city's rehabilitation loan policy to prevent high-income families from abusing the program. He said that some relatively affluent families had used the funds to add greenhouses and skylights to houses undergoing restoration.
Since June, the rehabilitation loans have been earmarked for low-income families, the elderly and the handicapped to make such basic repairs as fixing sagging porches or leaking pipes.
Walker said in the suit that he was offering it as a class action on behalf of about 200 other homeowners who, in separate court actions, would "create the risk of inconsistent or varying adjudications. . . "