Washington DC’s opportunity-to-purchase program puts power in tenants’ hands. In Washington, DC, the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) guarantees tenants in buildings with five or more units the first right to purchase their building when the landlord decides to sell. Tenants have some flexibility; they can purchase the building as an association, or reassign all or part of their rights to a developer. The Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) also offers low-interest loans to tenant associations, who often lack the necessary financial resources to take advantage of the TOPA program, with a requirement that 80 percent of funding be used to provide housing for households below 50 percent of the area median income. DHCD also provides financial, technical, and logistical assistance to tenants. From 2000 to 2013 alone, TOPA helped to preserve 1,400 units of affordable housing. Learn more.
When Monzella Curtis moved into his Hayward apartment in 2003, he worked to keep his apartment rent-stabilized after the owner erroneously registered it as non-stabilized. Now, the retired paramedic spends time volunteering with the Hayward Collective to strengthen renter protections. Seeing his neighbor who had just been diagnosed with stage three cancer evicted for no cause motivated him to advocate for a citywide just cause eviction policy, which passed in March 2019.
Photo: Felix Uribe