The Purchase of a Lifetime

<p>When luxury condo developers started buying up properties on W Street in D.C., the low-income tenants who already lived there decided to get in the game.</p>
May 9, 2007, 1pm PDT | Chris Steins | @urbaninsight
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The bank balked. Neighbors grumbled. But these poor tenants would not be swept away in the real estate boom.

"The community room filled early that July night in 2002. The tenants of Capital Manor were about to learn how much it would cost to stay in their apartments. Their century-old complex-three 34-unit buildings-was a dilapidated eyesore in a gentrifying D.C. neighborhood.

The tenants knew they had to buy their complex or risk being displaced. They had chosen a developer to guide them through the process. His colored marker now squeaked across a whiteboard at the front of the room. $1,500, he wrote. That's what each family would have to come up with in the next six weeks.

Looks of disbelief spread through the room. The 25 tenants gathered were dishwashers, janitors, people on public assistance. "How many people do you actually think have that kind of money just sitting somewhere?" demanded tenant association president Deborah Thomas."

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Published on Saturday, May 5, 2007 in Shelterforce Online
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