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Charlese Jennings and her Maltese dog, Deogie, regularly take walks along the sidewalks surrounding her new townhome, greeting their neighbors. When she has family and friends over, they enjoy sitting on the front porch, resting on the deck, or gathered in her spacious kitchen. Jennings and Deogie took easily to their new home at MetroTowns at Parkside.

“The blessing was I did not have one hitch,” Jennings said.

MetroTowns is a new workforce housing community that is set to feature a total of 83 for-sale townhomes and 42 rental townhomes and apartments. The community was the brainchild of Abe Pollin and his family.

Pollin “was very civic minded. He recognized that people who serve the District did not necessarily have the opportunity to live there or own homes there and he wanted to do something about that,” said Christine Madigan, senior vice president of development at Enterprise Homes, which partnered with him to develop MetroTowns.

Once Pollin approached the city, Enterprise and the District of Columbia Housing Authority were brought in to evaluate sites and produce a development plan. After several tours throughout D.C., the Parkside Additions location was chosen in Northeast.

The District contributed an additional 6.6 acres across the street to facilitate building the one-for-one replacement of DCHA’s 42 reduced-rate rental units and a larger townhome community that would sell to households earning 40 to 100 percent of the area median income.

The community will be built to meet national energy efficiencies and green building standards, such as energy efficient appliances and special landscaping for storm water management.

Enterprise provided opportunity to former residents of Parkside Additions and DCHA clients, as well as employees of the District of Columbia government to enter into contracts on the new homes before offering the units to the public. So far, four former Parkside Additions families returned to the lowered rate rental units and one bought a home in the neighborhood. There are currently about one dozen DCHA clients at various stages in the home purchasing process all with hopes of becoming a future homeowner at MetroTowns like Jennings.

In Jennings’ case, her new mortgage, combined with D.C.’s Home Purchase Assistance Program (HPAP), the District employee’s home purchase program, and assistance through the Housing Choice Voucher Program with DCHA helped her to complete the process.

But it took nine months of saving, attending meetings offered by DCHA and University Legal Services, and taking the steps laid out by DCHA’s homeownership staff.

“I was hesitant because my credit wasn’t good enough,” Jennings said.

But Jennings, a D.C. Arts and Humanities program support assistant, worked on it and got all of her paperwork in order.

“Charlese is a joy to work with. She came in guns blazing. She did everything she was supposed to do to get through the process. She saw MetroTowns and she loved it,” said Alice Revel, who has been coordinating home ownership for DCHA clients for 12 years.

“I like her spirit. I liked her enthusiasm,” Revel said. “She will do well as a homeowner.”

Jennings soon saw the benefits of the location, being close to Metro and just five minutes away from her old neighborhood and friends. She continued to meet with Revel and others related to the home buying process.

“Everyone was so welcoming and able to give me the insight I needed. I felt so confident,” Jennings said.

And she is not the only one experiencing the joy of the new neighborhood.

“It’s wonderful to see the community come out of the ground, get phase one completed, and see how absolutely beautiful it is,” said Madigan. “I was really thrilled the first time I went to the site and our first home owner had settled. Shortly thereafter they had their first baby. I could see out back. Their car was parked in their driveway and there were things on the porch. It was clear the house was being lived in, the curtains drawn for the sleeping baby…that was really exciting to see that happen.”

While Jennings’ babies are all grown up, she is still excited to have a home. She is thinking about getting dimmer switches for her lights. She said she learned that in one of her mandatory homeowners’ classes.

“I know they save money!”

Charlese Jennings and her dog, Deogie, take a break from moving into their new home at MetroTowns.
Charlese Jennings and her dog, Deogie, take a break from moving into their new home at MetroTowns.
Last modified: 12/29/2014 4:34:12 PM