The following story is the second of six profiles in our new publication, Preservation Works: LISC DC’s Role in Preserving Quality Affordable Housing. You can read and/or print the entire publication here.
On June 25, 2015, the residents of the Pleasant Park Cooperative gathered in the courtyard at 6243 Clay Street NE to celebrate the beginning of the renovation of their home. This gathering was the culmination of nearly 10 years of advocacy.
In March of 2006, the owners of Pleasant Park called a meeting with the tenants at the nearby recreation center and presented a proposal to turn the units into condominiums.
In exchange for residents’ affirmative votes (a process required by the DC Rental Conversion Act), the owner offered up to $15,000 to each tenant. The tenants, led by Ms. Brenda Jordan, opted to pursue their tenants’ rights, organize as a tenant association, and seek a tenant purchase option under TOPA.
Early in the TOPA process, LISC DC provided a $100,000 predevelopment loan to serve as an earnest money deposit, allowing the tenants to move forward in the TOPA process and use the following eight months to secure acquisition financing. The tenants were able to purchase their building with city financing in 2007 and had promising leads on renovation funding.
The financial crisis and lack of city funding resulted in setbacks that prevented the cooperative from securing renovation financing until 2014. Until renovations could occur, residents were required to find short-term fixes to problems related to the electrical and plumbing systems, which were essentially in their original 1945 condition.
During this time, Mi Casa, which served as a development consultant and cooperative training support group, worked with the residents to patch together solutions and to locate renovation financing. In 2014, we provided a $100,000 recoverable grant for predevelopment, as well as a $550,000 loan for construction, to help with renovation costs. Our financing created a more modern living environment, and helped residents fulfill their vision of having a permanent stake in the community’s development.