Past Housing Campaigns

Duncan Cooperative

The Duncan Coop is a group of long time Petworth residents who were able to purchase their 24-unit apartment building in October 2006 with the help of ONE DC. They organized themselves to act in 2005, after the son of long time owner Gladys Duncan decided to sell the building. A condo developer wanted to buy and vacate all the units for re-sale, but tenants did not want to move.  Several residents formerly worked in the household of Mrs. Duncan and had lived there for between 15 and 30 years. A couple others moved into the complex during the first year after it was built in 1965.  The quiet neighborhood, friendly neighbors, and low rents made for an attractive lifestyle that kept residents in place over many years.

The tenant association approached ONE D.C. in early 2006 after being turned down by other developers who found the project too small to work with. ONE D.C. staff were impressed with the high level of organization and motivation among the residents.  In particular, they agreed to pursue a Limited Equity Co-op ownership form so that everyone could qualify to stay and buy, and it would remain affordable in the future also.  Several leaders who could have afforded to buy (and profit from) a condo were willing to forgo that option so that nobody would be displaced. 

With a low interest loan from the DC Dept. of Housing and Community Development, the group successfully purchased for $2.35 million in October 2006.  During 2007 the Board and membership planned a moderate renovation of the building, hiring PGN Architects and selecting Hamel Builders to do the renovation, scheduled for 2008.  The Board has taken an active role in managing the property, selecting Delwin Realty as property manager, interviewing applicants to fill vacancies, reviewing expense reports, and taking non-paying members to court.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Latino Cooperative

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Latino Coop is located on 11th Street, NW in DC's Shaw neighborhood. With ONE DC's help, the tenants purchased the building in 2006 with a $7.8 million loan from the Department of Housing and Community Development as permanently affordable housing.  The partnership between ONE DC and the coop was ONE DC's first tenant-organizing effort in a building where the first language of 97% of the residents is Spanish or one of the many Native American languages spoken in Central America and Mexico.

Because coop members are the collective owners of the building, they control the building to keep housing affordable and to create a building policies based on people's shared needs - not individual greed. "This is an important thing for people who are poor," says Ramon Garcia, a founding coop member.

Abelina Lopez is another of the coop's founders and the first woman to serve as a director.  Membership in the coop gives Abelina and her neighbors increased self-determination over their community.  Since buying the building, security and maintenance have improved, housing costs have decreased rather than increasing over the $100 per year that was the norm prior to forming the coop, and a greater sense of community has been honed. When asked why she values coops, Abelina responds, "I don't like to hoard things.  I wouldn't want someone to deny one of my sons something to eat. It's not right to hoard things people need to survive."

Cooperative housing exemplifies ONE DC's value that the things we need for survival - like food, water, healthcare, and housing - should be shared equitably by all, and not used solely for profit-making. This contrasts the system under which we live now, in which empty half-million dollar condos continue to be peddled to the ultra-rich as not only housing, but "investments" while people with below poverty level incomes cannot even find a decent room to rent.  

This courageous and visionary group of working class immigrants from Guatemala, Mexico and El Salvador have found a way to stay in the city as housing costs continued to rise.  By organizing with your neighbors, and choosing affordability and the community's collective well-being over profit, tenants can collectively buy their building  - making it into an affordable and healthy place to live, and showing others that there are alternatives to gentrification and displacement.

1330 7th Street/Immaculate Conception

1330 7th Street is a 137-unit building located two blocks from the Convention Center. After it was listed for sale in the spring of 2002, ONE DC assisted tenants in exercising their fist right of purchase by providing training and technical advice to both residents and board members of the tenant association. The association was able to purchase the building in 2004.

Temperance Row

For the first half of the 20th century the site formerly known as  Temperance Alley contained 23 dwellings for working class African American families. Though the housing was affordable, it was also substandard—it is said that residents often slept on the roof to avoid the rats. As a result of these conditions, the site was cleared in 1953 and no replacement housing was built.

A campaign for new, permanently affordable housing on Temperance Alley began in 2001. After a lengthy community process, the Public Welfare Foundation donated the land to the ONE DC along with a large capital contribution of $300,000 to build 10 units of permanently affordable housing on the site, to be called Temperance Row.

However, despite the fact that ONE DC received support from all relevant DC agencies and ANCs and the approval of alley housing in other parts of the city, the Board of Zoning Adjustments (BZA) rejected the plan to build Temperance Row. For four years ONE DC organized public demonstrations in support of the project. ONE DC also hosted a variety of “interim uses” on the site including the Temperance Row Farmer’s and Artist’s market to bring healthy fruit and vegetables to local residents.