The Alabama Ave/13th Street SE Tenant Coalition has made clear that they are ready and willing to engage in the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) process in order to make their vision a reality. The 13 households that remain in the buildings are fighting for 200 units of truly affordable housing for the sake of their broader community, a community that is facing the crises of homelessness and lack of affordable housing. In order to do this, the tenants need to meaningfully exercise their rights under TOPA, and they need the cooperation of District government.
Currently, Sanford Capital’s business partner, Geoff Griffis, is attempting to circumvent the tenants’ TOPA rights through an alleged land transfer that the tenants, through their legal and organizing teams, are in the process of actively challenging. This looks very much like a maneuver designed to wear the tenants down by continuing to subject them to deplorable living conditions in the hope that the tenants will get tired and leave the buildings without ever being able to exercise TOPA. If the buildings are empty, Griffis can then tear them down to make way for his luxury redevelopment.
The tenants have made clear that they WILL NOT MOVE until they have had the opportunity to exercise their TOPA rights. To protect their ability to exercise TOPA, the tenants’ legal team will pursue all legal options, including filing litigation, to ensure their rights are protected.
The Mayor has a clear role to play in ensuring the realization of the tenants’ vision of 200 truly affordable units above the Congress Heights Metro station. A key to the tenants’ redevelopment plan for the site is an abandoned building situated on the corner of 13th Street SE and Alabama Ave SE. The building is currently under the control of the DC Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). If Mayor Bowser were to instruct DHCD to assign that abandoned building to the Alabama Ave/13th Street Tenant Coalition through their chosen Non-Profit Developer (NHT), the tenants would then control a key parcel of the proposed redevelopment site. Control of this parcel would greatly improve the tenants’ odds of being able to ultimately gain control over the entire site proposed for redevelopment once they receive their TOPA notices. The Mayor has thus far refused to meet with members of the Alabama Ave/13th Street Tenant Coalition, let alone work with them to create much-needed affordable housing.
Let Mayor Bowser hear from you!
You can make it clear that the members of the Alabama Ave/13th Street Tenants Coalition are not alone. It’s vital that Mayor Bowser and DC Council hear that their constituents are in solidarity with the tenants in the struggle for housing justice at Congress Heights.
Upcoming important email actions directed at Mayor Bowser and DC Council
- Tell Mayor Bowser to transfer 3200 13th SE to the tenants!
- Stay tuned for an action in the coming weeks telling DC Council to block any attempted transfer of 3200 13th Street SE to anyone but the tenants, and support the transfer of the building to the tenants.