In this issue... 

Hundreds of Renters Gather at City Hall to Demand Action to Fix Rent Control Loopholes
Two critical bills, B22-025 and B22-100, would help strengthen rent control laws.
hundredsHundreds of Renters Gather at City Hall to Demand Action to Fix Rent Control Loopholes
Two critical bills, B22-025 and B22-100, would help strengthen rent control laws.

On November 15th, Washington D.C. renters gathered at the Wilson Building (1350 Pennsylvania Ave NW) to demand that the city's representatives take action to fix rent control by bringing two critical reform bills to a vote. Rent control is one of the District's most effective tools for preserving affordable housing. However, loopholes in the law allow unscrupulous landlords and developers to impose unfair and massive rent hikes and push long-time residents out of their homes. These two critical bills, B22-025, "Rental Housing Affordability Stabilization Amendment Act of 2017" and B22-100, "Preservation of Affordable Rent Control Housing Amendment Act of 2017" would help strengthen rent control laws by protecting tenants against these loopholes.

Efforts were organized by the rent control campaign, a collaboration between CNHED, LEDC and community tenant leaders. The collaborative successfully brought together approximately 100 renters and advocates to demand action. Councilmembers Anita Bonds, Robert White and Elissa Silverman spoke in support of the bills. 

We would like to thank everyone who came and supported these critical bills that will strengthen rent control laws!

housingHousing Department's Emerging Leaders: Recent Promotions

LEDC's Housing Department has been growing and providing advancement opportunities to its staff 

Rob Wohl - LEDC's New Tenant Organizing Team Manager. Rob has been working with LEDC since April 2015 when he started as a Tenant Organizer. He brought vast organizing, campaign development, and coalition building experience. Rob is passionate about empowering tenants in the District, and social justice in general. He leads our team of tenant organizers who work with tenants to build their leadership and organizing skills, improve their housing conditions and preserve their housing affordability. In addition to managing the day to day activities with the team, he leads a number of advocacy initiatives in partnership with other community-based organizations to ensure that low to moderate income tenants have access to decent and affordable housing. 

Maria Godoy - LEDC's New Housing Counseling Manager. Maria started working with LEDC in November of 2010 as a Bilingual Housing Counselor. Prior to working at LEDC Maria worked with Prince George's County-based Housing counseling agency and a settlement office. Maria holds numerous certifications from Neighborworks and Unidos US (formerly NCLR) to provide financial capability, pre-purchase, post-purchase and foreclosure counseling. During her time at LEDC she has helped many families become home owners and avoid foreclosure. In her new role as a Housing Counseling Program Manager, Maria is responsible for the continuity of culturally and linguistically competent housing counseling services to Maryland and District residents. 

Judith Ventura - LEDC's New Housing Counselor. Until October of 2017, Judith provided intake and support to our DC Housing Counselors. Judith came to LEDC in January of 2015. She is passionate about helping DC residents improve their housing conditions and financial health. In her time with LEDC, Judith gained the necessary skills and certifications to become a Housing a Counselor. She will continue to support our District-based initiative providing grants to low income families to help them cover the cost of security deposits.
smallSmall Business Spotlight: Elmer Farfan - Baby Alpaca
Local business benefits from holiday shopping season.

Every year, Elmer Farfan participates in the DC area's largest Holiday Market where he spends 12 to 18 hours a day, from Black Friday until Christmas Eve, selling his craftsmanship. The Holiday Market takes place in Downtown DC, and includes over 150 vendors. Thousands of shoppers visit the market.

Elmer, originally from Peru, came to the United States to visit family in New York and Virginia. But he quickly saw an opportunity to start his own small business selling alpaca clothing, accessories and crafts.
To date, Elmer has received four loans from LEDC which have allowed him to continue selling his products at the Holiday Market. He has greatly benefited from selling at the market. Over the years he has developed a following. "People recognize me and come with multiple orders. Now, I need to become more competitive to meet all the demand." With the help of LEDC's loans, Elmer is now seeing growth and had a 15% increase in sales between 2015 and 2016. He is very hopeful about the future of his business.
To learn more about the holiday market's vendors visit:

arepa Arepa Zone Opens Their First Brick-and-Mortar Location
On Saturday, December 9th, 2017, Arepa Zone celebrated the grand opening of their first brick-and-mortar restaurant located at 1121 14th Street NW

Gabriela Febres and Ali Arellano first came to LEDC in 2004 after being referred by the Northern Virginia Family Services. They were looking for financing to launch their Venezuelan Food Truck - Arepa Zone. 

After being named one of DC's Best Food Trucks and winning a competition to secure a stall at DC's Union Market, they moved toward e stablishing a more permanent presence in the community. Gabriela and Ali turned once again to LEDC for financing.

In June, 2017, LEDC was able to provide a second loan of $100,000 to the ArepaZone via a Health and Human Services' Community Economic Development (CED) Award. The Health and Human Services grant program is designed to fund economic projects and ventures that lead to job opportunities for low income residents. The funds were critical to the construction of the new restaurant, located just below Thomas Circle. "With this second loan, we [Gabriela and Ali] have been able to make something much bigger, we were able to start this newer, bigger project." 

This location is 10 times bigger than their Union Market station, the larger kitchen has allowed them to broaden their menu. They are now offering new items such as the pabellon bowl,  a traditional Venezuelan dish made with black beans, sweet plantains and chicken or beef over rice, fresh natural juices. They are currently in the process of acquiring a liquor license. 

Be sure to check out Arepa Zone's new restaurant and expanded menu!

womenWomen's Empowerment Programs: Angeline's Gourmet

Angela Ashley, originally from South Carolina, relocated to Washington D.C. when she was 18 and then moved to Montgomery County, MD where she currently resides. Angela is a certified chef, who started her own catering company called Angeline's Gourmet. For almost 20 years Angela has been serving American-style food at parties, weddings and corporate events.

Angela started her food business by enrolling LEDC's newly acquired program, Empowerment Women International (EWI). She enrolled in EWI's Entrepreneur Training for Success (ETS) course. ETS is an intensive three-month, 60-hour course in business, workforce, life and leadership skills. ETS strongly emphasizes the fundamentals of micro-entrepreneurship, combined with the basics of financial literacy. ETS is offered twice annually during the Fall and Spring.

Angela always dreamt of starting her own restaurant but lacked the necessary funding and business experience. She took initiative and sought help at the Crossroads Community Food Network in Takoma Park, MD. They referred Angela to EWI, where she was offered a grant of almost $3,000 to participate in the ETS course. The ETS course helped Angela produce a business plan, gain marketing skills and business knowledge needed to achieve success. "It allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of what my own business is. To take ownership of my product."

Now Angela has her own catering company, but still collaborates with
Crossroads by using their kitchen incubator to prepare and process her food and barbecue sauces. Angela recently received a small business loan from LEDC to formalize and expand her business, and technical assistance to access state contracts. She hopes to achieve her dream of owning her own restaurant and selling her products in retail stores. 


waldaStaff Spotlight
Our Housing Director, Walda Yon, celebrates her 12th year with LEDC! 

This January, our Housing Director, Walda Yon, celebrated her twelfth-year anniversary with LEDC. We are so proud of Walda's success with LEDC. We are grateful for her dedication and passion. We hope for many more wonderful years to come!

Muchas Felicidades Walda!
legalGiving to LEDC
Attorney David Kaminow provides free legal advice to LEDC clients.

Since August 2016, David Kaminow from Meiselman, Salzer, Inman & Kaminow, P.C. has helped over 100 area residents by providing bilingual legal advice and free consultations.

"I have been counseling small businesses for almost 20 years. I love helping small business owners, especially during the early stages. These are very exciting times, but at the same time dangerous. 

I understand there are many people who have wonderful ideas, but don't have the money to start. After decades of working in this field, I wanted to help more people here, and I have been studying the language and culture of Latin America for almost 10 years. 

For this reason, I thank my friends at LEDC for joining me with small business owners who need legal advice but do not have the money to start. "

Do you shop on time, 
try Amazon Smile instead and select the 
Latino Economic Development Center 
as your charity of choice! 

Working families deserve to live in affordable homes and own successful small businesses, but too many are unable to turn those dreams into a reality. The Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC) equips Latinos and other underserved communities in the DC and Baltimore Metro areas with the skills and financial tools to create a better future for their families and communities. Participants in our programs learn how to buy and stay in their homes, join with their neighbors to keep their rental housing affordable, and start or expand small businesses. Learn more at our website.

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