A longtime tenants association in Takoma Park has purchased its apartment building at 112 Lee Avenue with assistance from public and private sources, under a model that County Executive Marc Elrich and other local elected officials can be replicated elsewhere.
The Leeland Tenants Association, which represents the 15-unit building in Takoma Park, purchased the building thanks to the following funding sources, according to a county news release:
- A loan of roughly $1.4 million from City First Enterprises, a local nonprofit
- A loan of $281,250 from the county’s Affordable Housing Opportunity Fund
- A $600,000 grant from Takoma Park, via the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development
- A $532,000 private loan
- A $250,000 loan from the National Housing Trust Community Development Fund
The building was constructed in 1958, according to a local realtor website.
According to the news release, the building “includes two units serving households at or below 30 percent of Area Median Income (AMI); four units serving households with income between 30 and 50 percent AMI; five units serving households with income between 50 and 60 percent AMI; and four units serving households with incomes between 60 and 80 percent AMI.”
Fernando Lemos from Mi Casa, a local nonprofit focused on providing affordable housing for underserved communities in the Washington, D.C. region, said that tenants will need to continue to pay what they can afford under the new ownership structure.
“They are neighbors. They share a building for many, many years,” Lemos told reporters during a news briefing on Wednesday. “They know their situation financially and economically. And as part of the organizing, when they’re starting to make a decision what they want to do with a building — if they want to keep it permanent housing in whatever form they choose — they have to make that decision to establish the price in the community.”
Broadly speaking, rents have historically been around $1,000 a month, Greater Greater Washington reported earlier this year.
Lemos and Elrich both said during the news briefing that the tenant organization, under a co-op model, will be charged with maintenance and upkeep of the building, now that they own it.
Elrich told reporters that historically, financing has always been the trickiest part of making deals like the one in Takoma Park happen. Elrich added he’s hopeful that the county’s new funds means that the model can be replicated wherever tenants are willing to try and purchase their buildings.
Getting tenants to ownership is a key part of solving the local affordable housing problem, Elrich said. With the county’s recent commitment to funding affordable housing, he said he hopes more tenants countywide follow the model of the Leeland Tenants Association.
“Hopefully other tenants will read about this, and when they’re notified that their buildings are up for sale, hopefully they’ll reach out and ask for assistance,” Elrich told reporters. “One thing I know we have to do is be able to provide assistance early on in the process, and the tenants understand how this can be done. It’s not something you can do at the last minute and I do think we will be able to be more aggressive in assisting tenants as we go forward.”