Sunday, October 27, 2013

Poverty Pimping 101 : Maintain the mentality at all costs

As a Ward 8 resident for six years mark me down as a "nonbeliever." When I say that I don't mean I don't believe in the success of Ward 8 -- I do, I definitely do. But what I have learned in living here is that I have to question every single preconceived notion about Ward 8 because 99% of the time it is not based in fact, it's just something someone started saying and a lot of people kept repeating it. Just like the fear that is often promoted by people who don't live here about safety, the party line about our affordable housing options is just the same. So when someone tells me they have been a long time renter and they are being "priced out"and they want to stay I ask the same question, "why in the world are you still renting?" Then I follow that question up with, "what are you doing now to become a homeowner?"

Let me be clear, homeownership is not for everyone. There are many good reasons to own (stability, wealth building, security) and there are many good reasons to rent (flexibility, few maintenance obligations). Each person has to make a decision about what works best for their situation. But it would seem to me, that for at least some Ward 8 residents who have made a long time commitment to living in the same place, sometimes renting for 10, 20, or  even 30 years and they want to stay why are they not taking advantage of the homeownership opportunities that are available? Why are they not enrolled in free homebuyer assistance programs like the ones being offered by organizations like MANNA? I was a student in the  MANNA's Homebuyers Club to get educated on the process. Within 4 months I had identified the condo I wanted to buy in Congress Heights and I bought it  -- below market rent -- and even with repairs and condo fees my mortgage is less than I was paying when I was a renter in Prince George's county. You can read my testimonial and other success stories HERE.

Overall as Ward 8 improves my home value will improve and so will my opportunity to build some much needed wealth. I went from being a pawn in the real estate game to a player, some days are better than others but I am making progress long-term. The commitment I made to Ward 8 as a homeowner was a primary factor in starting  Congress Heights on the Rise and my other Ward 8 projects. I have some major skin in this game and I want Ward 8 to succeed -- for all of us.

If we want people invested in their communities, with long term stability, and the opportunity to build wealth (and with it opportunities to move out of poverty) then we have to change the renter's mentality -- not the housing marketing. The focus should be on transforming renters (particularly working long-term renters) into responsible and informed homeowners. That is why I can't understand the push to create more "affordable" rental properties when we currently have a glut of way below market homeownership opportunities available in Ward 8. I have every confidence in the world that our residents can become homeowners -- if they want to be --  but to do so means we have to change the rhetoric and the mentality that goes along with it.

I hate to throw the race card in there but I am going to have to go there. African American communities have been shut out of wealth building opportunities (like homeownership) for far too long.  A lot of the time it is through poverty pimping programs that perpetuate the myth that black people and that poor black people are incapable of success, are helpless to the point of being childlike,  and must be "managed." I don't believe that. I say again, "the money is in the treatment and not the cure." The nonprofits keep getting bigger and the poor just keep getting poorer. You give a man a fish and he eats for a day, you teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.



The condo you buy today for $25,000 may be worth $50,000 in 10 years. The single family home you buy today for $150,000 may be worth $300,000 in 10 years. In 10 years where do you think your rental payments will be? What will you have to show for all of those months of rental payments? Don't get it twisted, you can pay rent rent on an apartment or a house for 25 years but all you are doing is subsidizing someone else's mortgage until they either come back and live in it or sell it for a profit -- financed with your renter's payments. Renters are the gift that keeps on giving to a property owner. So don't be fooled, you may be "pushed out" physically eventually but you have been out of the wealth building game from the start. You have no standing.

There are two issues here: DC's affordable housing problem and Ward 8's low homeownership problem. The two are only being connected because we are allowing the narrative to connect them. DC has a responsibility to provide affordable housing opportunities in every single ward in the city  -- not just east of the river where the land is cheap, the people are poor, and the social service nonprofits that manage them congregate. Ward 8 residents who don't want to be "priced out" in 10 or 20 years need to become homeowners now. Being a "long-term renter" gives you no more protection than a short-term one -- you are still a renter and you are operating at the whims of your landlord and the rental market. Your landlord knows whats up, while you are renting in Ward 8 he is taking your rent payments or D.C.'s  housing choice voucher payments and subsidizing the mortgage on the house he is living in in Virginia. Wouldn't it be nice to be the one holding the keys (and the deed)? You can do that and it is not as hard as some people want you to think.

I want every single Ward 8 renter who wants it, to become a homeowner. I want them to have a voice and a financial stake in the success of Ward 8. I want residents to be empowered by Ward 8's success, not be intimidated by it.  I want parents to be able to build wealth in their homes so they have financial foundation so they can do things like pay for their children's education and/or  leave their children g after the parents have passed on. Other ethnic groups know the strength and benefits of homeownership and property ownership. They are teaching their children "it is better to own than to rent" so why are we always telling black people to rent? Who does that benefit? Definitely not us.

It would be far cheaper (and productive in the long run) to turn even a fraction of our Ward 8 renters into homeowners, particularly now when Ward 8 is on the upswing and with it home value prices. Renters could own their own home NOW for far less than they (or the city) pay in rent, in some cases mortgage payments could be lower than a cell phone or cable bill. In tern that would free up spaces on the subsidized housing lists for people who really need those programs like seniors and those with special needs.

Do the math. Who benefits keeping Ward 8 residents as renters?

So why is the focus still on creating more rental opportunities guaranteed to keep people disenfranchised instead of moving them into homeownership and independence?

Because the money is in the treatment, not the cure. 

Stop letting them paint us as victims -- we can be victors. Don't believe the hype. If you are serious about becoming a homeowner and want to avoid being "priced out" then you should pick up the phone right now and call MANNA at (202) 832-1845 and ask them about their homeowner assistance programs. There are programs out there that will help you save money for a downpayment! There are even programs that will give you money! 

Including a listing below of some of the for sale opportunities currently available in Ward 8 along with an estimate of monthly mortgage payments. Even with taxes and condo fees homeownership comes at a much lower cost than renting. Take a moment and look for yourself and get inspired!


$25,000
20 Chesapeake Street SE #C-43
Estimated monthly mortgage payment: $101.31 (with 20% down on a 30 year fixed loan at 4.5%)
Go HERE for listing.
Great location to shopping and close access to 295 & 495. Coop pays all utilities and taxes. A great opportunity to live in D.C. at a affordable price. Owner financing with a 20% down payment. MUST BE OWNER OCCUPIED. NO EXCEPTIONS! PROPERTY IN GOOD CONDITION.

Listing Type Condo/Townhome
Listing ID DC8096514
Bedrooms 1
Bathrooms 1
House Size 600
Listing Status Active
Year Built 1953

$30,000
20 Chesapeake Street SE #C-24
Estimated monthly mortgage payment:  $121.60 (with 20% down on a 30 year fixed loan at 4.5%)
Go HERE for listing.
Great location to shopping and close access to 295 & 495. Coop pays all utilities and taxes. A great opportunity to live in D.C. at a affordable price. Owner financing with a 20% down payment. MUST BE OWNER OCCUPIED. NO EXCEPTIONS! PROPERTY IN GOOD CONDITION.

Listing Type Condo/Townhome
Listing ID DC8096514
Bedrooms 1
Bathrooms 1
House Size 600
Listing Status Active
Year Built 1953

$33,300
713 Brandywine Street SE #102
Estimated monthly mortgage payment:  $134.98 (with 20% down on a 30 year fixed loan at 4.5%)
Go HERE for listing.
Great 1 bedroom condo on 1st floor. It needs just a little cosmetic work to really shine. This is a short sale so please expect to wait at least 90 days for short sale approval.

Listing Type Condo/Townhome
Listing ID DC8207736
Bedrooms 1
Bathrooms 1
Listing Status Contract Pending
Year Built 1953

$40,000
450 Condon Terrace SE #201
Estimated monthly mortgage payment:  $178.35 (with 20% down on a 30 year fixed loan at 4.5%)
Go HERE for listing.
Two bedroom condo with hardwood floors throughout, granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances. Condo fee is estimated. Unit being sold strictly "as is".

Listing Type Condo/Townhome
Listing ID DC8060863
Bedrooms 2
Bathrooms 1
Listing Status Contract Pending
Year Built 1964




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7 comments:

DaReslnt1 said...

the biggest issue with long time renters in ward 8 that I have met is that they do not know/see the long term, bigger picture. All of them want to move to NW, PG or Virginia where they think things are nice. As opposed to making things just as nice where they live. So they daydream, fantasize and talk about moving to those areas for years and years (most never moving), while continuing to pay rent and never saving.

People need to take a look at the Navy Yard area and see how all of the renters were kicked out via imminent domain while that one block of long term homeowners (who fought back) REMAINED.

Saving that downpayment for my condo was challenging for me because it's just me. While people with children or other dependents have tons of programs that cater to them and practically throw money at them. There is no reason for Ward 8 to have such low home ownership other than people not seeing that what's right in front of them.

h st ll said...

More so, f**k all those fees and pay cash for those condos.

Or save a lil more and buy a house in these neighborhoods for not that much more.

Good comment DaResInt1.

katydid13 said...

Another options for an affordable mortgage is www.naca.com. It's a rigorous process, but a very good deal. I almost bought that way, but ended up going through DC Opens Doors, which is also a good program. It's less work than NACA, but you do pay more.

I've not got a slightly bigger condo than my rental apartment for about the same amount of money.

Unknown said...

Thank you for this post. I am researching and starting to look at my options. However, your post and the properties listed ignore the fact that many Ward 8 residents have families. Some of us have families and student loan payments so while a one bedroom condo will not work. Additionally, why waste my first time home buyer status to buy a one bedroom condo where my child can't play safely outside?

The Advoc8te said...

Hi Unknown--

Good look with your home search! That being said my post was not meant to be the end all and be all of properties that are available for purchase. I just posted 5 of the cheapest properties for rent. The idea is that I hope this inspires you (and any other potential homebuyer) to 1) feel empowered to go from being a renter to an owner 2) start looking for homeownership options and 3) contact some of the home buyer assistance organizations out there.

Your "perfect" or forever home may not be the first one you buy, sometimes it takes more than one real estate transaction to do that. But one thing is for sure -- you aren't going to get there by renting forever.

That being said you can't expect me (or anyone else) to find that perfect home for you. Not every home is for every person -- you have to put the effort in finding what works for you when it works for you.

The Advoc8te said...

CORRECTION: I just posted 5 of the cheapest properties for sale.

Mari said...

Be careful what you wish for and 10 years is an awfully long time.
If there was real reinvestment in Congress Heights with greater home ownership and special something that makes property values rise, then could you stand the cries of 'gentrification' and the news stories of people who had lived in a house X years only to have their stuff dumped on the sidewalk when the landlord decides to get a better paying tenant? Or what of the local pols handwringing about the loss of affordable housing, because 'nice' don't rent cheap. What about the pushback from residents who want to either be in denial or wallow in their dysfunction? When Congress Heights becomes that desired neighborhood you dream, it won't get there without a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth.
10 years is a long time. It has taken that long for my neighborhood in NW to become the desired place I wished for, in the meantime, I've gotten older and grayer. 10 years is a long time to wait, but hey, I got an awesome 200% return on my investment.