Polly Donaldson
DHCD Director Polly Donaldson (Freddie Allen)

Many recall the days when Black families or even single adults worked hard, saving their money in order to purchase their very first home — and the joy that came when moving day finally arrived.

And even though prices may have risen in the District and while you may need to push through a few financial obstacles, homeownership isn’t as difficult to achieve as you may believe.

That’s the message of Polly Donaldson, the director of the DC Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) and her able-bodied staff as they prepare for the DC Housing Expo and Home Show which takes place at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Northwest on Saturday, June 24. The expo, now marking its ninth year, serves as a reminder of the critical role that owning a home plays in communities across the U.S.

For the second year, the District has designated a month-long theme of June Housing Bloom and with a plethora of experts, exhibitors, lenders, community-based organizations and others providing housing-related services on hand, Donaldson says the expo remains one of the best ways to learn more about affordable housing and homeownership options.

“It’s a unique opportunity to get one-on-one information on resources available to those who live or work in the District to help them become homeowners and be able to better maintain and improve their homes — and we welcome everyone even if you’re not a D.C. resident,” Donaldson said.

“One aspect of creating healthy living is nutrition and we’ll have demonstrations at the home show with chefs who will illustrate ways to create nutritious meals. It’s something new we’ve added in recent years and the demonstrations have become quite popular. This year will be fun with participants from the television show “Top Chef” on site stirring up some amazing dishes.”

Some of the features included during the day-long event, which runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., include: workshops on topics like home repair and green living; credit counseling; home improvement — from gardening to landscaping and flooring; aging in place planning; and small business strategies.

Donaldson emphasizes that the expo and home show, a family-friendly event, continues to attract a growing number of residents and business owners. Last year’s attendance totaled over 4,000 and she anticipates even more to stop by this year. Mayor Muriel Bowser, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton and Marvin Turner from the DC HUD Field Office will be among the District’s officials who will meet and greet attendees.

“In keeping with new trends, one of our vendors is Build Tiny,” Donaldson said. “They will highlight ways to design and construct tiny homes — they’ll even help you learn how to buy and build your very own tiny house.”

“It’s important to understand that what often holds people back from becoming a homeowner is fear. We want to break down that wall and educate District residents. We’ll have many resources on hand at the expo and will have experts available to help residents understand what it takes to qualify for loans and to become a first-time homeowner.”

Donaldson says progress continues under the leadership of Mayor Bowser.

“The numbers don’t lie. The District is unequivocally serving more residents and DHCD has almost doubled how much we spend to provide affordable housing to our residents in just two short years. The mayor’s mandate is to use all the tools at our disposal to produce and preserve affordable housing. We have five priorities: housing production, housing preservation, homeownership, ending homelessness and finding solutions to vacant/blighted properties. We also focus on revitalizing neighborhoods through community development.”

Donaldson asserts that with the District being at the forefront of affordable housing development, you can make D.C. your home — if you desire.

“If you want to live in the District and be part of the thousands moving into our city, if you have lived here for five generations or for five minutes, we want you to be part of a city that’s prosperous for all and inclusive. Come talk to our experts, take advantage of the resources and begin your journey toward homeownership,” she said.

The free event is sponsored by DHCD in partnership with the Greater Washington Urban League along with several other sponsors and partners.

D. Kevin McNeir – Senior Editor

Dominic Kevin McNeir is an award-winning journalist with more than 25 years of service for the Black Press (NNPA). Prior to moving East to assist his aging parents in their struggles with Alzheimer’s,...

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