Monday, August 9, 2010

New Life for 3145 and its Residents

More than two years have passed since a devastating fire disrupted the lives of hundreds of residents of Mount P and left a scar on the main commercial strip.  The fire displaced about 200 people and completely destroyed 3145 Mount Pleasant Street NW, then known as the Deauville Apartments.

A deal has finally been reached which will result in at least some of the residents returning to a newly constructed building on that site.  So sad it has taken this long, but it looks like the end is near for that ugly burned out shell which just happens to exist in the heart of our neighborhood at a time when lots of other properties are also empty because of commercial vacancies.

The city is essentially loaning a group of former tenant-residents money to purchase the property now and secure 40 units in the new building.  The city is also facilitating the financing for construction of the entire building.  In total it will have 67 affordable housing units, the previously mentioned 40 inclusive.  The amount of the initial loan is $4.1 million.  Technically, the loan will be from the Department of Housing and Community Development to an entity of residents known as 3145 Mt. Pleasant Street Tenants Association.

For all you affordable housing haters out there, this is not a "handout," it's a loan.  And there is a need for affordable housing, housing assistance, whatever you want to call it.  Whether that means the market adjusts to real salaries and wages (not happening around here) or that municipalities and non profits step in with a little tenant organizing on the side (what is happening in this situation), it has to be done.  DC can be a livable place for workers of all kinds.  And although the Deauville is but a small fish in the big city, it's so great to see that this story still has legs and looks to be running towards a positive conclusion.

And by the way, we won't have to call it the Deauville anymore.  With a  new building comes a new name, the Monsignor Oscar Romero Apartments.  Romero was Archbishop of San Salvador and known as Bishop of the Poor.