Tenants Were Able to Leverage DC's TOPA Laws With Help From LEDC

The Reclaim Rent Control Campaign Calls on the DC Council to Expand and Strengthen Rent Control in 2020
Nearly 700 Shoppers Made Their Way to the Silver Spring Civic Building to Shop From Over 30 Woman-Owned Businesses

Entrepreneurs Can Use Free Census Data to Create Successful Businesses, Says the U.S. Census Bureau
LEDC's Affordable Housing Preservation Team Received Two Awards in 2019 for Their Groundbreaking Tenant Organizing Work in DC

Redete Bekele Shares Why She Gave to LEDC

Yearlong Rent Strike Ends at 1320 Nicholson St. New Owner Committed to Addressing Poor Living Conditions
Tenants Were Able to Leverage DC's TOPA Laws With Help From LEDC

The 1320 Nicholson Street rent strike, led by LEDC's Affordable Housing Preservation team, ended in December 2019, when the building sold to a hand-picked developer who committed to keep rent affordable for all tenants and address the substandard living conditions. 

The rent strike began on October 1, 2018, by tenants who were fed up with the substandard living conditions of their homes. They had been dealing with water damage, mold, mice, cockroaches, and bedbugs for years. After seeing little results from not honoring a rent increase earlier in the year, they decided to withhold their rents entirely, leading to a yearlong rent strike.

With support from LEDC, tenants were able to withhold their monthly rent payments until the landlord addressed the building's poor living conditions. Under DC law, tenants are permitted to withhold rent if housing code violations are not addressed. 

Instead of bringing the building up to code, the previous owner decided to sell the building. Tenants were able to pick the new owner by leveraging DC's Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA). The Act allows tenants to purchase the building or to select a buyer and negotiate a contract that can provide benefits and rental protections to tenants. 

After many delegations, public actions, and regular Tenant Association meetings, in December of 2019, the developer that tenants chose closed on the property. 

"The Caribbean, African, and Central American tenants of the building are very hopeful that they will enter the new year with better living conditions than they've had in years," said LEDC's Senior Organizer and Organizing Lead Citlalli Velasquez.

LEDC's Affordable Housing Preservation Team Launches Rent Control Campaign Alongside Other Community Partners
The Reclaim Rent Control Campaign Calls on the DC Council to Expand and Strengthen Rent Control in 2020

LEDC's Affordable Housing Preservation team, alongside other community partners, launched a campaign to tackle DC's affordable housing crisis. The Reclaim Rent Control campaign, launched at a press conference on October 2, 2019, calls on the DC Council to expand and strengthen rent control in 2020. 

The press conference was held in front of 220 Hamilton Road NW, an apartment building where tenants have been subject to up to 30% rent hikes. During the press conference, the coalition unveiled the three mains goals of their political platform. They include expanding rent control, closing loopholes in the existing law to stop the loss of affordable housing, and keeping rent-controlled housing affordable for current tenants. 

The campaign comes at a critical time. DC's rent control laws have not been modernized since the Rental Housing Act of 1985, which is set to expire on December 31, 2020. Over the last 44 years, 38% of DC's rent-controlled apartments have been lost. And today, only 90,000 households in DC are covered by rent control and no new buildings have been added in the past 30 years.

The launch of the campaign was followed by a rally on October 26, 2019, where over 500 DC residents, including union leaders, renters, and advocates, gathered to show solidarity. "They're not building for us, they're building for wealthy renters," said one member of the DC Tenants Union. "This is the story of the District of Columbia. Black and brown people being pushed out to Maryland and Virginia. We must center people in our laws, not landlords."

On November 13, 2020, the DC Council held a hearing on the Rental Housing Act Extension Amendment Act of 2019, which would renew the current rent control law for another 10 years. LEDC's Affordable Housing Preservation team joined over 120 people who testified before the DC Council urging them to not just renew the current law, but to also expand and strengthen the law to protect more tenants living in the District.

We will continue to call on the DC Council to pass new legislation that will expand current rent control laws, because we need a solution that reflects the magnitude of the problem. 

To learn more and stay up to date with the campaign, visit reclaimrentcontrol.org.

LEDC Hosts Its Most Successful Holiday Market Celebrating Women's Entrepreneurship in 2019
Nearly 700 Shoppers Made Their Way to the Silver Spring Civic Building to Shop From Over 30 Woman-Owned Businesses

Thank you to everyone who made our 7th Annual Holiday Market a wonderful event! We had nearly 700 shoppers make their way to the Silver Spring Civic Building on December 8, 2019, for some holiday shopping, making it one of the most successful holiday markets to date. 

The market featured 35 woman-owned small businesses who sold a variety of products including jewelry, pastries, organic coffee beans, handmade soaps and butters, paintings, and home accessories. 

Returning vendors included Dulceology , owned by sisters Alejandra and Nicole Leiva. The artisan bakery specializes in handcrafted Alfajor cookies and Latin sweets inspired by an old family recipe book. The sisters sold their most popular food items, including Alfajor cookies, artisan chocolate boxes, and dulce de leche and guava jams. 

The annual holiday market is part of LEDC's Empowered Women International (EWI) program, which helps unlock the potential of low to moderate income women through the power of entrepreneurship. 

Thank you to everyone who shopped at our pop-up market! You can find highlights from the event on our Facebook page. Remember to join us this year and to shop for holiday gifts while supporting women entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurs Can Use Free Census Data to Create Successful Businesses, Says the U.S. Census Bureau

On March 16, 2020, the U.S. Census Bureau will mail out invitations to households across the U.S. asking them to respond to the 2020 census. The decennial census effort - counting everyone of all ages, races, sex, and immigration status - will impact small businesses across the country. 

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, census data helps entrepreneurs understand their market and plan appropriately for their success. Businesses can access a suite of free services, including the Census Business Builder (CBB) portal to gather "key data for their business plan or to better understand their potential market. Census data can also help small businesses "make competitive hiring and wage decisions based on the typical payroll of similar businesses in their area."  

Additionally, census statistics determine how Congress invests billions of dollars annually for critical public services, which in return generate opportunities for private sector businesses, including mom and pop shops. 

We encourage everyone, including aspiring and existing business owners, to complete the census.  Residents in the DMV region are encouraged to visit LEDC's offices beginning March 16 in DC, Maryland, and Virginia to complete the census online. 
A Terrible Loss in 2018 Led to Financial Insecurity and the Loss of Their Home

In 2018, Kiana Coleman and her family suffered a terrible loss: They lost their 4-month-old daughter to a rare medical condition. In the process, they also lost their apartment and incurred thousands of dollars in debt from unexpected medical bills. 

The family fell behind on rent because every cent they had went toward paying for the medical treatment needed to keep their newborn alive. In 2019, the family of four was forced to find a new home after their landlord refused to renew their lease, citing their late payments during this difficult period. 

Kiana says finding the money to pay the security deposit for a new apartment proved to be especially difficult because they were also paying off past due medical bills.

In her search for help, she learned about LEDC's security deposit assistance grants sponsored by the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA). In July 2019, she began to work with LEDC's Certified Bilingual Housing Counselor Karen Torrico to apply for the grant. 

Together, they found an affordable apartment in Prince George's County steps away from family members who she could count on for support. In December 2019, they were awarded the security deposit grant needed to move into their new home.

Kiana says she is very grateful for having found LEDC and is excited about continuing to receive financial counseling and credit building services to improve her family's financial situation.

Peruvian Brothers Open First Brick-and-Mortar Restaurant Inside La Cosecha 

Brothers Giuseppe and Mario Lanzone immigrated to the U.S. from Peru over two decades ago. Guizeppe says Peru's turbulent economy and the ongoing corruption led his family to move to the U.S. when he was 15-years-old. 

When the brothers graduated high school, they went their separate ways. Giuseppe went on to college and then to represent the United States in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. After being apart from his family for several years, Giuseppe says he longed to be home with them. When the brothers finally reunited, they decided to start a business that showcased their native cuisine. 

Giuseppe says the business idea was born at a family reunion where his mother suggested they start a food truck. In 2013, they opened their first food truck dedicated to selling Peruvian food. Today, the business includes three food trucks, a catering company, a hot sauce line, and now a brick-and-mortar restaurant in the District. 

The brothers approached LEDC in March 2019. They were planning to open their first brick-and-mortar restaurant in DC and needed financing to make the dream a reality. With help from LEDC's lending team, the brothers were able to secure a small business loan to open their first brick-and-mortar restaurant. 

On Saturday, February 1, 2020, Peruvian Brothers officially opened inside La Cosecha, the Latin American Market that recently opened near Union Market. The brothers celebrated the grand opening with a fun-filled event that kicked off with an alpaca petting zoo and included free food tastings, live music, dancing, and art. 

You can visit Peruvian Brothers at 1280 4th Street NE inside La Cosecha

LEDC's Affordable Housing Preservation Team Received Two Awards in 2019 for Their Groundbreaking Tenant Organizing Work in DC

Congratulations to our Affordable Housing Preservation team for taking home two awards in 2019. 

In September 2019, they received the "Justice in the Community" award from Neighborhood Legal Services Program for fighting for housing justice in the District. 

On October 17, 2019, they received the "I'll be There" award from DC Jobs with Justice for their groundbreaking advocacy work, including launching the DC Tenants Union. 

Muchas Felicidades, Citlalli, Victoria, Veronica, y Walda!  
Redete Bekele Shares Why She Gave to LEDC

"I gave to LEDC because I believe we need culturally competent community organizations dedicated to helping communities of color thrive," says Redete Bekele.

"I support LEDC's mission to level the playing field by proving underserved communities with the tools and resources needed to achieve the American dream." 

Do you shop on   www.amazon.com Next 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 DC, MD, VA, and Puerto Rico 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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