Friday, December 10, 2010

A Child's Perspective On A Tenant Sponsored Cooperative

Alex is a 6 year old boy that has lived at the Norwood since he was born. His mother Angelica is a member of the tenant association board. Over the years Alex has accompanied his mother to countless tenant association meetings. During meetings he normally colors with his crayons.

Last night we met to discuss the building purchase and child care center. Alex was coloring as usual. When the meeting was over, he showed us his drawing.

With his crayons he drew what our building will look like once we buy it and he called it "Our Building". The drawing conveys our hopes and goals as a community. It reminds us that leadership takes on many different ages and forms.

Thank you for making it possible for our community to learn and grow.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Norwood Tenants To Share Bedbug Battle Stories At Congressional Hearing [Thursday, Nov. 18]

On Thursday tenants of the Norwood will add their voices to the national dialogue on bedbugs at a Congressional forum. Tenants of the Norwood Apartments have found themselves in the middle of the growing bedbug epidemic in the past decade. Having shared our stories and tips with hundreds of people in our neighborhood and across DC, tenants along with academics, community leaders, and pest control professionals will have a chance to address a national audience on the growing issue.

In March of 2009 the Norwood Tenants Association worked with the DC Department of Health to organize the STOP Bedbugs DC Summit. At the summit, we found that what is needed most to combat the spread of bedbugs is effective eduction, research, and model policies and practices for government, property owners, and individuals dealing with various aspects of the problem.

The Norwood Tenants are grateful for the support and organizing assistance received over the years from DC's Latino Economic Development Corporation (LEDC), as well as the Office of the Tenant Advocate and TENAC.

Read more about the event and the Norwood's involvement on LEDC's Blog: The Crusade Against Bed Bugs on Capitol Hill:
As widespread bed bug infestations within residential and commercial buildings make headlines across the nation, the forum is designed to explore how the federal government can more effectively work with the public and private sectors to support collaborative bed bug control efforts.

“Education is really important, and we’ve learned over the years that giving a person a flyer isn’t enough,” Silvia Salazar [of the Norwood Tenant Association] says. “You have to show people exactly what you’re talking about.”

Silvia hopes the forum and the widespread reporting of bed bugs cases in the region have begun to remove the historical stigma against those who suffer the wrath of bed bugs. The Norwood tenants are now working with the DC health department to explore grant funding from the US Environmental Protection Agency to develop a comprehensive, chemical free approach to bed bugs control.

“Knowledge is the only way to fight bed bugs,” Silvia says. “They’re really organized creatures, and we need to learn how to be like them.”

Stay tuned for updates, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter @NorwoodDC

Monday, November 1, 2010

Performing Maya Play at the Smithsonian

The Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian has selected three community groups in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia to perform a community play called "Popol Vuh." The play uses native puppets to tell the story of how the Maya People were created.

We are proud to announce that our tenant association was selected to represent DC because we have a history of incorporating Mayan art in our tenant rights education and community organizing efforts.

Since this summer, we have been rehearsing our lines and making puppets in preparation for our performance this weekend.

The play is free and open to the public.

We hope that you will be able to join us this weekend. The play will be in Spanish with subtitles in English. There will be a morning and afternoon performance.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Send us your best wishes and positive thoughts

Tomorrow we will begin negotiations to buy our building as affordable housing.

video We got together this evening to make a special toast and share our best intentions as we move closer towards reaching our goal of buying our building. Over the past five years, we have come together as a community and have enjoyed working with tenant rights organizations in DC such as Mayor's Office on Latino Affairs, TENAC, Latino Economic Development Corporation, Empower DC, OTA, and Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless. Your support has keep us moving forward during difficult times. ¡Gracias!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Article: "Affordable Housing "Out of Reach"

A recent report from Multifamily Executive magazine tells of the coming affordable housing crisis from a confluence of factors including neglect of the current stock of older rent-controlled buildings, such as the Norwood. Now, more than ever, it is critical that tenants protect their affordable housing by exercising their rights to demand proper maintenance, and buy their buildings when owners want to sell (under the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act, or TOPA).



When it comes to affordable housing, Douglas Shoemaker, director of the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Housing, has a lot on his plate. Of course, there are the production issues. But that isn’t Shoemaker’s No. 1 concern. Instead, he’s worried about those older, rent-controlled units that San Franciscans are living in today. Many owners of those units are facing financial difficulties, and he is concerned that the city could ultimately lose those homes.

“If we get to a place where it’s clear that the borrower won’t make good on the note, then we will see a disinvestment in the property and a lack of willingness [by the owner] to put basic repairs into the place. They don’t feel they’ll get that money back out,” Shoemaker says.

He’s not alone. In New York, another city with a significant share of rent-controlled units, Denise Scott, managing director for the New York division of the Local Initiatives Support Corp. (LISC), saw a lot of multifamily housing fall offline when owners struggled in the ’70s and ’80s. A recent New York Times story said that of the 200 properties on the New York housing agency’s 2008 list of the most poorly maintained apartment properties, at least 77 were in foreclosure from January 2005 to October 2008, according to “We’re very concerned about the issue of ‘deferred maintenance,’” Scott adds. “Owners start juggling their expenses. In an effort to keep the mortgage current and the taxes current, what’s likely to suffer is the maintenance. We expect to see an uptick in problems with deferred maintenance because of the over-leveraged situations or because the owner is strapped for cash.”

Michelle Norris, chief development officer for National Church Residences, a nonprofit affordable housing owner and developer based in Columbus, Ohio, has already seen what can happen to units in seniors housing when the owner faces financial difficulties. “You can walk down the hall and see rips and stains in the carpet,” she says. “There’s deferred maintenance on the boiler systems and the heating and cooling systems.”

The hope, for now, is that these units don’t altogether disappear. Some may fall offline briefly, but down the road, an opportunistic investor may eventually swoop in and bring them back online, says Richard Moody, chief economist at Austin, Texas-based Forward Capital. “Somebody else might buy them at sharply reduced prices,” he adds. “There are too many factors that come into play to make an assumption about a likely outcome.”

—Les Shaver (Multifamily Executive)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Health Fair and 2010 Census Info

Free Health Fair this Thursday! Also get important information on the 2010 Census. Sponsored by the Mayor's Office on Latino Affairs: