Helen

Helen’s turning point
Residents Connecting to Secure Safe and Affordable Housing

When Helen and her neighbors’ building was put up for sale, their future was uncertain. Tenants feared that the new building owners would neglect to fix their hazardous housing conditions or, worse, displace them.

“I do not have children, so I manage the circumstances more easily, but every day when I go downstairs I see folks with children and they look so troubled because they know these conditions can really affect their children’s health and development.”

Helen and her neighbors knew they would have to organize and establish a tenant association and connected with. LEDC’s tenant organizers to do just that Helen was elected the president of the association.

“Without LEDC, we would not have gotten to where we are, they have been our right hand. All of our collective ideas were channeled into a single force. I believe that without [LEDC] we could not have improved the conditions of our building.”

LEDC’s tenant organizers guided the tenants through the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) process, which requires the creation of a tenant association. Tenants actually decided they did not want to purchase the building as a co-op and opted to identify a third-party buyer, W.C. Smith. Fortunately, TOPA allows for third-party buyers to leverage DC’s Housing Production Trust Fund and the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) programs. This enabled the buyer to finance the purchase and needed renovations and, in turn, tenants were able to negotiate stable and affordable rents for 40 years. Now Helen and her family are happy, and feel fortunate to have not lost their housing.

"Without LEDC, we would not have gotten to where we are, they have been our right hand. All of our collective ideas were channeled into a single force. I believe that without [LEDC] we could not have improved the conditions of our building."– Helen