DC mayor touts city programs boosting homeownership as she asks for more funding

D.C. officials showed off the row house newly renovated by the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development that the city plans to flip. (WTOP/John Domen)

It’s budget season for local governments, and the budget put forward this year by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has already generated some frustrations and criticism from members of the D.C. Council.

While some money is sure to be reallocated by the time the D.C. Council has its say, the mayor took to a newly-renovated home in Northeast D.C. to push the council to approve funding increases for programs that help turn low- and middle-income residents into homeowners.

Standing in front of a corner unit on 19th Street NE, not far from the H Street corridor, city leaders boasted that the two-bedroom, 1 and 1/2 bath row home with new floors and a fresh coat of paint was once a miserable, blighted and vacant property before it came to own the home.

Once it took ownership, the Department of Housing and Community Development hired D.C.-based contractors to fix it, so the city can flip it.

“The home has an assessed value of $600,000, and we’re putting it on the market today for just $400,000,” said Colleen Green, the acting head of the department.

The expectation is that the resident who buys it will be taking advantage of the city’s homebuyer assistance program, aimed at helping first-time buyers. Depending on your income, eligible residents can get as much as $202,000 from the city to put toward a down payment, though the average payout is closer to $145,000.

Last year, the city had about $21 million in that fund. This year, Bowser is proposing $29 million.

“We are very focused on more pathways to home ownership in D.C.,” Bowser said Monday. “We have opportunities for people on the very lowest end of the income spectrum. We have pathways for people on middle incomes, and pathways for people who have never thought about owning their own home before.”

Right now, the District has about 100 different properties in its possession, and the goal is to convert each of them into housing stock, whether it’s sold to city residents or used as shelter or other facilities. Green said the city will be soliciting bids to renovate some of those properties over the coming months.

“Hopefully, we’ll have more formerly vacant and blighted houses for sale in the future,” said Green.

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John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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