LISC and Manna: Together Again

Yes, there are still new affordable housing projects being financed and developed in Washington, DC, despite gloomy news about the credit and housing markets and a cash strapped city government. This past quarter, LISC committed to investing $1 million in Cardozo Condominiums, a new 15 unit affordable condominium at 1343 Clifton St. NW in the Columbia Heights neighborhood.

The condos will be developed by longtime partner Manna who was awarded the vacant land (pictured left) several years ago through the City’s now defunct Homestead Program. Manna maintained the land over the years while they weighed development options and turned their focus to projects that helped existing tenants who were under threat of displacement. As George Rothman, Executive Director of Manna puts it, “People were more important than building”.

These condos will meet a huge need for affordable units that can accommodate families. Three of the units have 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, seven units have 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. Prices will range from $185,000 for a one-bedroom to $265,000 for a three- 3 bedroom. This is in a neighborhood where condo prices for a 2 bedroom can run anywhere from $400,000- $650,000. (Rendering pictured right)

Though Manna has seen reluctance from banks to lend on condo projects in general, in addition to LISC’s investment, they were able to secure bank financing for this project. But as George Rothman notes, when it comes to bringing banks to the table, “This project is one of the exceptions because of its highly desirable location in Columbia Heights, proximity to metro, and larger units. There is a lot of demand for this type of product.” So much so, in fact, that from word of mouth alone, 11 of the 15 units are already reserved.

George goes on to say that “Other than northwest, demand seems to be more cautious. We are not seeing the acquisition price of existing buildings come down like other areas. Prices have remained strong.” Strong enough, that groups like Manna cannot create affordable home buying opportunities without deep subsidies, which in this time of budget shortfalls have become exceedingly scarce.

Moving forward, Manna will continue to focus on creating affordable homeownership for lower income families. Building on our 27 year partnership, LISC will continue to support Manna as they create opportunities for wealth creation, stabilization, and upward mobility for people in the neighborhoods of Washington, DC.