KSDA keeps up the pressure on vacant properties (updated)

A vacant property on Kennedy Street NW.

Here's some good investigative work by neighbors in the Kennedy Street Development Association on vacant and blighted property in the area. It's bad enough that good homes are sitting vacant and are unsafe (or being used by squatters or for other uses), but the city is losing millions in taxable revenue that could be used for good purposes, like homelessness and affordable housing, perhaps? Good job to the KSDA folks for their tenacity on this issue.

From the KSDA Facebook page posting:

"Have you ever wondered what the story is with the two stalled pop-ups on Kennedy Street? So have we. That's why we looked into it. Here's the scoop:

We started by looking at the tax records of 615 Kennedy Street. The property is owned by one Insun Hofgard of Great Falls, VA. Both the address on the tax document and the name rang a bell. Where had we seen them before? Of course! The address in Great Falls is the same as the address on the tax bill for 1207 Kennedy, a vacant property that we looked at several weeks ago. The name was also very familiar. Ah, yes! Insun and Jefferson Hofgard were the subject of a major investigative reporting piece by Martin Austermuhle of NPR. The story detailed complaints by DC homeowners who had purchased renovated homes from the Hofgards. Since the NPR story broke, the DC Office of the Attorney General has brought a suit against the developers. Here's the  WAMU NPR piece and their coverage of the OAG suit.

We immediately asked ourselves: what other properties does this couple own? Do they own the other stalled pop up on Kennedy (523 Kennedy Street, NW)? Indeed, they do! It won't surprise you to learn that none of these properties are being taxed at the vacant or blighted tax rates. I wonder how the Hofgards would feel about their neighborhood being degraded with vacant and blighted properties. 

A Facebook reader on the KSDA page added this relevant info:

"This is some good detective work, but not really a positive bit of news. The issue isn't simply that these properties are owned by Insun Hofgard; the larger issue is that due to the AG's ongoing investigation of Hofgard and her business practices, all properties owned by her (or by LLCs which she controls) are currently tied up as part of the investigation. This means they can not be purchased or sold, and no new work permits can be issued (or work commenced) until either the investigation wraps up or the AG determines how to deal with the properties. (A copy of the full complaint against Hofgard can be found here.) 

It's tremendously frustrating to have multiple properties along the corridor sitting in such a state of disrepair. If a property is not properly secured (i.e., if people are able to gain access to it or there are squatters residing in it) the best course of action is to contact 311 and file a complaint. DCRA should be able to come out and properly secure the properties; otherwise, things are in a holding pattern.

For anyone looking to do a bit of detective work of their own, https://corp.dcra.dc.gov is a good point for learning about who controls (and is involved with) LLCs registered in the District. You need to create an account, but it's quick and easy and there is a lot of interesting and useful information there."

Are there other vacant and blighted properties near you? 

Drew Schneider

Local DC blogger in Petworth, Washington DC.



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