DC Attorney General Racine wins lawsuit against Congress Heights landlords

D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine claimed victory Wednesday in a long-running lawsuit against landlords and developers who his office said conspired to displace Black tenants from homes they lived in for decades.

The suit focused on the Congress Heights Apartments building.

As part of the settlement with current building owners CityPartners and Geoffrey Griffis, the building’s new nonprofit owner will transform the current 47-unit apartment complex into approximately 180 units of affordable housing. It will also offer retail, Racine’s office said.

“This resolution holds slumlords and developers accountable for executing their illegal and immoral business plan that brazenly and unlawfully put profits over people. It’s a major victory for the courageous remaining tenants of the Congress Heights Apartments and for affordable housing in the District,” Racine said in a statement.

“For years, my office has fought alongside the tenants and their exceptional team of pro bono lawyers and advocates to push back against the lawlessness of the well-heeled owners and principals of Sanford Capital and CityPartners,” he added.

Racine said that while D.C. has seen tremendous growth and development in the last 10 years, that growth “has not been fair and just.”

“Rather, it has made the District the jurisdiction that has experienced the most displacement of former long-time residents, especially Black and brown residents, in the entire United States. With today’s resounding victory — as well as other lawsuits that my office has filed — the message is clear: the days of ‘business as usual’ that encouraged ethically compromised slumlords, developers, and management companies to profit at the expense of long-time District residents, the majority of whom are Black or brown, is over.”

A copy of the Congress Heights Apartments settlement agreement is available online. The court order is also online.

Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Writer/Editor for WTOP.com. He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

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