The former president of the city government's quassi-independent housing and economic development agency yesterday blamed the organization's financial problems on the city's Housing Department and the agency's role as the lender of "last report" for minority businessmen.
Joseph Jackson, former president of the D.C. Development Corp. and its subsidiary, the D.C. Investment Corp., said the agency's delinquent mortgages and unfinished work at several DCDC-owned housing projects resulted from inadequate city funding and delays in receiving city payments.
Jackson also said $800,000 to $900,000 of the $2 million DCIC had loaned to minority businessmen was delinquent because "of the high, high, high risk nature of the loans." He said DCIC was "an entity of last resort" for businessmen who had failed to get financing from other financial institutions.
DCDC and DCIC were established in the early 1970s. DCDC financed and rehabilitated housing for low- and moderate-income families, and DCIC channeled money from the city and federal governments to minority-owned city businesses.
Jackson's testimony yesterday during a three-hour hearing before the City Council's housing and economic development committee was his first public comment since housing director Robert L. Moore in March stripped DCDC of its control over city housing rehabilitation funds of alleged mismanagement. DCIC's operations were not affected by Moore's actions.
Testifying before the same committee two weeks ago, Moore said DCDC owed nearly $118,000 to city banks in delinquent mortgage payments on three housing projects.He added that the city would sell 28 of 37 partly vacant and boarded-up houses DCDC purchased two years ago from developer H.R. Crawford, now the Ward 7 City Council member, because DCDC had failed to rehabilitate and sell them to low- or moderate-income families.
Jackson denied Moore's charges that DCDC generally did a poor job of administering housing rehabilitation projects. "I think irrevocable harm has been done to my reputation because of these allegations," Jackson said. "My reputation has been damaged by these comments."
The mortgages were delinquent because DCDC failed to get needed funds from Moore's Housing Department, Jackson said.
Jackson added that city housing officials had agreed to the renovation in stages of the so-called Crawford homes, which are scattered throughout Shaw, with the proceeds from the earlier sales being used to finance later renovations. That plan failed in the face of rising interest rates, Moore said. "So it wasn't a surprise to us that 28 houses" were not rehabilitated, Jackson said.
Moore testified yesterday that mortgage payments totaling $112,000 have been paid on the Crawford homes, the 55-unit Wade Apartments, 1201 13th St. NW, and the 84-unit Kenesaw Cooperative at 16th and Irving streets NW, all of which were in danger of foreclosure.
Although in the past Moore has charged DCDC with shoddy construction and program foul-ups, yesterday he blamed DcdcS delinquent mortgage payments on tardy payments from his own city Housing Department and DCDC's inability to sell some of the homes that were renovated because of high interest rates.
Moore even rose to DCDC's defense during the hearing when he charged that "significant inaccuracies" existed in a D.C. auditor report, released Wednesday, that was sharply critical of DCDC's role in the sale of a warehouse at 1724 Kalorama Rd. NW.
The report concluded that DCDC had engineered a sale without public notice, and that the sale price of $320,000 could have been greater if there had been competitive bidding.
Moore did not tell the committee what the alleged inaccuracies in the report were. He said his office was preparing a response to the audit report. r