Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Happenings in your Neighborhood

Thinking about moving to a new neighborhood? Want to get a fix on all the nitty gritty details - crime reports, bulk trash pickup requests, etc.? Then subscribe to . From their web site:
“What’s happening in my neighborhood?”

For a long time, that’s been a tough question to answer. In dense, bustling cities like Chicago, New York and San Francisco, the number of daily media reports, government proceedings and local Internet conversations is staggering. Every day, a wealth of local information is created — officials inspect restaurants, journalists cover fires and Web users post photographs — but who has time to sort through all of that?

Our mission at EveryBlock is to solve that problem. We aim to collect all of the news and civic goings-on that have happened recently in your city, and make it simple for you to keep track of news in particular areas. We’re a geographic filter — a “news feed” for your neighborhood, or, yes, even your block.

You can subscribe to the feed by selecting a neighborhood, zip code, block, etc. and receive a daily or weekly summary.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Application for DC Tax Abatement Program

Click here for more information on the Tax Abatement program for first time homebuyers in DC. This is a link to the 2007 form. In 2008 they raised the house price limit to $326,700 and also raised the income limits slightly.

Lower Income Home Ownership Tax Abatement

Eligible homeowners, including non-profit organizations and shared equity investors, may receive a five-year tax abatement and be exempt from paying recordation and transfer taxes. To qualify, you must meet the following conditions:

+The property must be owner-occupied;
+The owner must meet the income level requirement; and
+The property must be less than $327,000 in value

If you have questions about if you qualify for this program or whether you can take advantage of it when you buy your house or condo, send me an email - pwr (at) - and I will try to answer your questions.

Monday, April 27, 2009

HPAP - Am I eligible for a loan?

To be eligible for HPAP assistance, you must meet the following criteria:

+Be the head of the household and a first-time homebuyer.
+Be a low-to-moderate income resident, based on the Department’s standards.
+Cannot have had ownership interest in any residential real estate within the three years prior to application.
+The purchased home must be the borrower’s primary residence and must be located within the District of Columbia.
+Possess a good credit rating.

Applications are prioritized based on the following:
-low-income, elderly, handicapped, disabled or displaced District residents
-other District residents
-non-residents who have been employed in the District for one year prior to application
-non-residents who have lived in the District for three years as an adult

Building Credit

What do you do when you don't own a home or a car and don't have an extensive credit history to qualify for a mortgage? One solution is to build a credit history based on the bills that you pay and have those bills recognized by an alternative credit agency.

I don't have any direct experience with PRBC, but it seems like a great idea for artists who are trying to build evidence of good credit in order to buy a house.

From their web site:
PRBC is America's Alternative Credit Bureau, providing a helpful service to the over 50 million people with limited or no credit history. If you pay your monthly bills on time, PRBC can help you build credit to qualify for a mortgage, car loan, and better interest rates.

Find out more at Their web site includes links to several articles about this new way to build credit. As always, Caveat Emptor!

Affordable Housing - HPAP

People with low to moderate incomes (including artists and other creatives) might think that they’ve been priced out of the housing market in DC, but in fact this could be a good time to buy a home in the city. Along with historically-low interest rates and falling home values, both the federal and city governments provide a wide variety of programs to assist people with modest incomes to find the house of their dreams, from providing low-interest loans to property tax exemptions.

The Home Purchase Assistance Program is administered by the DC Department of Housing and Community Development. Eligible participants could qualify for $44,000 in down payment and closing assistance.

Several community organizations hold regular training sessions and the Latino Economic Development Corporation is holding an orientation session on Saturday May 9 from 10 am - noon. From their web site:
Learn how you can obtain up to $44,000 in downpayment and closing cost assistance for the purchase of your first home in DC. In this brief session you will learn the steps for applying for this 0% loan from the DC government and the process of home purchase. Afterwards you will be ready for your first appointment with an LEDC housing counselor who will assess your individual situation and goals.

Fore more information visit the LEDC web site here and click on Events and Trainings.

Hyattsville Arts Festival - May 16

Thinking about a move to Hyatsville?

Its time for the second annual Hyattsville Arts Festival. You'll have a chance to check out the scene and talk to over 35 artists who live and/or work in the neighborhood.

More details here.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Blagden Alley - warehouse to rent

Large studio available for lease on 2nd floor of converted warehouse on historic Blagden Alley. 1,890 sq. ft. + 800 sq. ft. loft. $3,200/month plus utilities.
Check out more details here.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Fast Cities 2009 - Vancouver

The host of the 2010 Winter Games is going for green, using its big moment as a chance to catalyze change. All 18 buildings in Vancouver's Olympic Village are being built to LEED Gold standards, except the community center and one residential building, which are targeting LEED Platinum.

Read more about Vancouver here.

Fast Cities 2009 - Tucson

It all began with a dare. In 2003, Tucson native and former surgeon general Richard Carmona challenged his friend, Mayor Robert E. Walkup, to turn their hometown into the model of a healthy city. He has done it, reshaping his city into a place where health and safety aren't an afterthought, but an integral part of municipal planning.

Read more about Tucson here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Fast Cities 2009 - New Orleans

The recovery of post-Katrina New Orleans has unleashed a new generation of social entrepreneurs. A sterling example: the Broadmoor Improvement Association and its dynamic president, LaToya Cantrell. Broadmoor is a racially mixed, middle-class historic district dating to the 1920s. During Katrina, it saw 7 feet of flooding. The venerable association found a new mission after the storm, when much of the area was in danger of demolition and rezoning as green space. Neighbors collaborated with researchers from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and students from Bard College on a comprehensive development plan.

Read more about New Orleans here.

Fast Cities 2009 - Taipei

Taipei has strived to achieve "zero landfill, total recycling" by 2010, 30 years ahead of the UN's trash targets. It will probably fall short, but its policies are still exemplary.

Read more about Taipei here.

Fast Cities 2009 - Malmo

After recession nearly wiped out Malmö's industrial base in the 1980s, the city had a chance to start over. It created eco-friendly neighborhoods of transformed tenements and old shipyards. Much of Western Harbour now runs solely on renewable energy, including wind and solar, while organic waste from the area is turned into biogas.

Read more about Malmo here.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Fast Cities 2009 - Houston

A street, a few gray parking lots, and a little patch of unused green. Dreary. When the property in downtown Houston came up for sale, city leaders knew they could find a better use for it than yet another condo/office building or a parking garage. They proposed Discovery Green, a 12-acre, $122 million park in the heart of downtown that has reminded urban planners of the power and potential of green space.

Read more about Houston here.

Fast Cities 2009 - Cleveland

One of America's most blighted cities, hard hit by rustification and foreclosure, is also home to one of its loveliest urban initiatives, a plan to create acres of tree nurseries, oases of native plants, and community gardens with bees and chickens. Devised at Kent State University's Urban Design Collaborative, the strategy is part of Reimagining a More Sustainable Cleveland Initiative.

Read more about Cleveland here.

Fast Cities 2009 - Denver

The arts may often be associated with money and power, but the Mile-High City's Five by Five program opens the doors of Denver's cultural institutions to some of its youngest and poorest residents.

Read more about Denver here.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Studios in Old Town

$410 - $520

24/7 access. Month to month lease with a 6 month min. stay. All utilities included. Space is on the second floor above an art gallery/ frame shop.

More info here.

Fast Cities 2009 - Chicago

It seems almost too simple: one card that gives access to the trains, buses, and a local car-sharing program. The Smart Card is Chicago-based nonprofit I-Go Car Sharing's idea to extend public transportation to include public cars.

Read more about Chicago here.

Fast Cities 2009 - San Francisco

Many people joke about stashing their cash under the mattress, but what if that were really the only option? Bank on San Francisco, a public-private partnership formed by the city and several financial organizations, gives citizens access to bank accounts and financial education.

Read more about San Francisco here.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

New Art Studio - Baltimore

Affordable, newly renovated studio spaces - called The Visual Warehouse - will be available in the Station North Arts and Entertainment District of Baltimore, Md, starting in May of 2009.
More details here.

Fast Cities 2009 - Seattle - City of the Year

Every year FAST COMPANY magazine puts together a list of "fast cities". In the introduction they write:

There's nothing we need more right now than brilliant initiatives that can help our communities go greener, be safer, live smarter, and invest for the future. Here are a dozen cities that are hatching plans we love.

In a year like this, we need a city upon a hill. Seattle, Fast Company's City of the Year, not only sprawls across seven hills but also boasts the ingredients that we believe will bring our communities -- and country -- back to prosperity: smarts, foresight, social consciousness, creative ferment. This year, singular bright ideas have earned 12 other cities -- Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Houston, Malmö, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Taipei, Tucson, and Vancouver -- places on our honor roll. Their exemplary initiatives are improving neighborhoods, transforming lives, and helping build better, faster cities for the future.

Read more about Seattle here

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Gallery for Rent - 14th & RI Ave NW

Rare loft space with skylights plus mezzanine offices available for immediate rent - previously an art gallery with great lighting.

More info here.

Artist Studio - Georgetown

Shared studio loft-space available in great Georgetown building situated between the C&O Canal and Potomac River - $525/month.

Read more here.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

In Praise of Spikes - Richard Florida and Creative Cities

In the March, 2008 issue of Fast Company, Richard Florida provides an excerpt from his book, Who's Your City? How the Creative Economy Is Making Where You Live the Most Important Decision of Your Life
It's a mantra of the age of globalization that place doesn't matter. Technology has leveled the global playing field--the world is flat. "When the world is flat," says New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, "you can innovate without having to emigrate."

It's a compelling notion--but it's wrong. Today's global economy is spiky. What's more, the tallest spikes, the cities and regions that drive the world economy, are growing ever higher while the valleys, with little economic activity, recede still further.

Read the entire excerpt at FAST COMPANY.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Creative DC Action Agenda - Forum, April 2

About 200 people turned out for the discussion today. The Office of Planning anticipates finishing the Action Agenda over the next few months and releasing it sometime in the summer. The usual suspects were in attendance. Find out more info here.

And check out Amanda's more detailed review at her blog