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Home Again Initiative Targets 4,000 Properties
In response to citizen concerns, Mayor Williams launched Home Again, a new initiative to renovate some of the estimated 4,000 vacant and abandoned buildings that scar our neighborhoods. Through the Home Again Initiative: Renovating our city's abandoned Properties, the District will gain site control of the vacant and abandoned properties and sell them to qualified developers who will renovate them into quality, affordable homes.
Study Identifies 4,000 Vacant and Abandoned Properties
The Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs commissioned in 1999 a study to identify the city's vacant and abandoned properties. That study identified 1,853 single family homes, 1,153 multi-family buildings with six units or more, and 923 properties zoned for commercial or retail uses as vacant. The majority are small, privately owned properties.
Over the past year, as city planners worked with residents to develop strategic neighborhood action plans (SNAP) for the city's 39 neighborhood clusters, the importance of addressing the city's vacant and abandoned properties to citizens became evident. Eleven of the 39 neighborhood clusters identified vacant abandoned properties as a priority in their SNAPs.
The administration recognized that it lacked a means of transforming the estimated 4,000 properties into new homes. The result is a public-private partnership program to renovate the abandoned properties. The District government will acquire these properties and make them available to developers. The private sector will use its experience and renovate the properties.
The Home Again Initiative will begin development of 150 single-family homes by October 2002 and 250 homes by October 2003. The initiative will begin with the sale of 50 properties. The initiative will initially work to gain site control of properties in five targeted neighborhoods: Columbia Heights, Shaw/LeDroit Park, Near Northeast, Ivy City/Trinidad, and Rosedale. These neighborhoods have the highest concentrations of vacant properties and their communities have identified vacant properties as a high priority in the SNAP plans. Working in geographically concentrated areas will enable the Initiative to achieve visible improvements that will spur additional private investment and help residents working to improve their communities.
Once the Initiative has site control over properties, it will bundle them together in packages of five to 20 properties primarily based on geographic proximity as well as development potential in an effort to promote cross-subsidies between properties.
The Disposition Process
The Initiative will sell the bundles of properties to developers in a three-step process:
1. Developers are pre-qualified to bid on the properties based on their response to the Request for Qualifications (RFQ). After the first round of developers has been selected, the Initiative will reopen the pre-qualification process for a second round of bidders in six months.
2. Pre-qualified developers will bid on the bundles of properties. The Initiative will select bids based on the scope, quality, and costs of construction of the properties, as well as the final sales prices of the properties.3. In order to close on a bundle of properties, developers will be required to show that they have construction financing in place, that they are not in default on any obligations to the District and that they will give priority to residents of the District for all new jobs created.
Stabilizing Neighborhoods, Promoting Affordable Housing
The Home Again Initiative is designed primarily to stabilize neighborhoods by removing blight; however, it is also meant to create opportunities for more affordable housing. The Initiative will ensure that at least 30% of the units are available to low- and moderate-income families by requiring developers to sell some homes to low and moderate-income families and provide them access to pre and post home purchase counseling.
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