Help Sherman Tenants Buy Their Building!

For the past two years, the tenants of Buena Vista Apartments have been organizing to reclaim their homes and health from the greed of their slumlord—and now, they have the once-in-a-lifetime chance to cooperatively buy their own building and secure permanent affordable housing. In January 2022, La Unión Buena Vista Tenants Association voted unanimously to pursue forming a limited-equity cooperative, and have secured the initial deposit loan. Now, your support can help this dream become a reality. 

In Washington, DC, when an apartment building with more than four units is put up for sale, tenants have the opportunity to buy it. But of the hundreds—possibly thousands—of sales in the past dozen years, only 18 have resulted in new limited equity co-ops. The pressures of everyday life—poverty, bad conditions, working overtime to pay the bills—combine with the forces of capitalism to ensure that very few tenants exercise their rights. 

This trend has been all too common in Ward 1, home to Buena Vista and a rapidly gentrifying community home to the largest percentage of Central and South American immigrants. La Unión reflects the neighborhood: residents are primarily low-income, Central American immigrants who have called the building home for years. Tenants are committed to keeping rents affordable for the long-term. 

After decades of dealing with unresponsive owners, La Unión is eager to maintain greater control of the conditions in property and secure a stable home for their families. The $75,000 we are fundraising would go towards critical repairs like replacing the HVAC and boiler systems, overhauling the front entrance, and addressing extensive water damage for the building’s 34 units. It’s also critical in demonstrating to the city and potential permanent funders that there is deep community support, buy-in from La Unión, and less liability for long-term lenders.

La Unión is led by a strong team, including a president whose initial organizing experience dates back to land reform efforts in Honduras and leaders in local unions (32BJ, UNITE HERE Local 23). They’re supported by established development consultant Judy Meima, represented by Legal Aid, and backed up by the local tenant organizing force of Stomp Out Slumlords. All of us are working together to navigate the development process, which has three stages:

Stage 1: Deposit and Feasibility Studies:
—La Unión has already secured the earnest money deposit from the National Housing Trust, and paid for initial feasibility studies with our December round of fundraising. The deposit was made on March 15, at which point the clock starts ticking for …

Stage 2: Acquisition (240 days)
—April-October: Raise $75,000 for critical repairs and predevelopment costs (appraisal, environmental study)
—October: Finalize $5,270,000 for the purchase price, in the form of a short-term loan from local community development financial institution)
Stage 3: Permanent Financing and Renovation
—At this point, La Unión will be in competition with its peers for city funding to the tune of $11 million—$6 million in renovation in addition to repayment of the $5 million purchase loan. Any money we raise for critical repairs reduces the ultimate cost of renovation and makes the project more appealing for funders.

With your help, we can make permanently affordable housing in the heart of Columbia Heights a reality. Will you join us?

Donations (119)

  • Lynn Dennis
    • $100 
    • 10 mos
  • Anonymous
    • $30 
    • 1 yr
  • Dan Rose
    • $36 
    • 1 yr
  • Anonymous
    • $20 
    • 1 yr
  • Bianca Vazquez
    • $100 
    • 1 yr


Stephanie Bee
Washington D.C., DC

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