David Bowers of Enterprise Community Investment, Inc. – one of the project’s backers, along with the US Department of the Treasury, the DC Department of Housing and Community Development and PNC Bank – began the festivities by leading a prayer in which he blessed not only the residents of the newly renovated building, but the project’s financiers as well – who, according to Bowers, are “not in the building business, but the people business.” Jim Knight, Executive Director of Jubilee Housing Inc., echoed that sentiment while exploring the various funding sources used to realize the project.
“Housing advocates and city officials have come together to create a funding source that goes by the name of the Local Rent Supplement Program,” said Knight. “It ensures affordability for the lowest income earners among us….The city government [also] came together and worked to create the Housing Production Trust Fund. We’re one of the few localities in the country that has one of these resources. It has been funded in the past and it is here at Ontario Court.”
According to the Mayor’s office, the project received $3.5 million from that fund for upgrades including “new mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, new carpeting, upgraded kitchens and bathrooms, installation of new security systems, new air conditioning, and new laundry equipment.”
Far from being merely a local initiative, however, Ontario Court also received a big boost from the U.S. Treasury Department via their Community Development Financial Institutions Fund’s New Market Tax Credit Program. The program, which was created in 2000 to “provide tax incentives to induce private-sector, market-driven investment in businesses and real estate development projects located in low-income urban and rural communities,” was used to raise capital for Ontario Court - a project that Mayor Fenty says is indicative of a sea change in the DC development community.
“When the market-rate housing boom was coming through the District, people said, ‘This is the renaissance of the District of Columbia. This is the city come to life,’” said Fenty. “Market-rate housing has a place, but what we’ve seen over the past two or three years, as the market has stabilized and returned a little bit to normalcy, is an appetite and patience for building what is probably even more important to the District of Columbia – and that’s affordable housing."
In the coming months, the Department of Housing and Community Development will continue to pursue such developments in the Adams Morgan area by “putting money into” renovation projects at 1703 Euclid, 1720 Euclid, 1631 Euclid and 2233 18th Street, NW - the last two both Jubilee properties.