Housing Complex

Opposition to Homeless Shelter on Georgia Avenue May Cost City $400K

The city may now have to pay $400,000 to give this building away. (Lydia DePillis)

The city may now have to pay $400,000 to give this building away. (Lydia DePillis)

So, this bit from last week's Council legislative meeting warrants highlighting: Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham is asking for $400,000 to cover the back taxes and remaining acquisition debt incurred by Central Union Mission's purchase of 3512 Georgia Avenue N.W. in 2006. The charitable organization originally wanted to build a men's homeless shelter there, but backed down after community members–and Graham–loudly opposed it. Then, the Mission tried to build affordable apartments, but that didn't work out either. Finally, they agreed to sell the building to the team developing the Park Morton mixed-income residential project a couple blocks south, and move its shelter downtown to the District-owned Gales School. That couldn't happen, however, until the building was clear of tax debt, which the Mission can't afford to pay.

The upshot: Because Graham and community members didn't want homeless people concentrated on rapidly-developing Georgia Avenue, the city–which is now $175 million in the hole–will have to pay $400,000 to make the switcharoo work. Kind of makes you wish this had been sorted out ahead of time.

  • Bonnie

    And why would the Park Morton developer be made to pay this $400,ooo? Are they not making enough as a developer fee to pay for this as well?

  • Skipper

    You assume Jim Graham cares about these details.

  • Emily

    Hi Lydia,
    As always, interesting article. I think your wording is somewhat misleading, though...according to the WBJ, Graham is asking for the tax bill to be cleared ($400K)--no funds will be transferred. The actual sale of the building will cover the acquisition debt. This should be good news because the new owners (developers) are probably more likely to pay property taxes moving forward.

  • Lydia DePillis

    Hi Emily,

    So, I was curious about this. Looking at the property tax records, they only owe about $50,000 in property taxes on 3512 Georgia Avenue, and even going back to 2006, the amount is nowhere near $400K. I inquired with Graham's office, and spokesman Brian Debose said:

    "To my knowledge, the $400,000 includes the taxes and the debt they incurred to purchase the building."

    David Treadwell of Central Union Mission was out of the country and unavailable to comment.

    So that's what I know.


  • rosesdc


    Hope you have the La Casa Shelter-SRO promised/Highland Park Zoning change(hearing today) 14th & Irving Sts NW on your radar

  • Lydia DePillis


    I'll be there. In fact, it's my column for next week. If you (or anybody else reading) has particular information or insight, please feel free to get in touch.



  • crin

    What about the whole deal being challenged by an ACLU type group because the church got a non-competitive deal from the city. Separation of church and state and all that. That was kind of a big reason why the whole thing fell apart. Is that ACLU lawsuit still in the picture?

  • crin