The new construction of 63 affordable homes fulfilled promises made to residents by city officials that one day they would return to their homes. Monseñor Romero is conveniently located in the high-opportunity Mount Pleasant neighborhood in the nation’s capital.
- Affordable to low-income families: All apartments are affordable to people earning 60 percent of Area Median Income. Returning families pay rent on a sliding scale.
- Available in markets where the supply gap is growing: Approximately 40 percent of Washington, D.C., households are housing cost-burdened, meaning they spend 30 percent or more of their income on housing. Of these cost-burdened households, nearly three quarters are renters.
- Healthy, well-designed and sustainable: The building meets Enterprise Green Communities Criteria and used a grant from the D.C. Sustainable Energy Utility to go above and beyond the Criteria requirements. Some of the green features include Energy Star Tier 2 appliances, motion-sensor lighting in the common areas, extra insulation, upgraded HVAC, solar panels and a green living roof.
- Connected to good schools, jobs, transit and health care: In addition to having an onsite after-school program, the building is in walking distance of schools, stores, medical clinics, Metro and bus lines and restaurants.
“[Even when we encountered challenges,] the team was all on the same page and made a plan to move forward. That’s the great thing about working with a mission-driven partner like Enterprise – they are focused on how your project turns out and who it serves.”
– Rob Richardson, Development Manager,
National Housing Trust/Enterprise Preservation Corporation
“Everybody Wants to Live Here”
Carmen Martinez and her daughters used to walk by Monseñor Romero Apartments in Washington, D.C.’s Mount Pleasant neighborhood and dream about living there. But when she applied, she was put on the waitlist and thought she would never get an apartment.
Carmen moved to D.C. 13 years ago, when her oldest daughter, Lizzy, was just a baby. She came to the United States from Honduras looking for better opportunities for herself and her daughter. Now 14, Lizzy plans to become a doctor. Alina, 8, was born in D.C. and hopes to become a fashion designer.
She worked hard to build a better life for her family, but Carmen struggled to find an affordable place to call home, especially after her divorce. Monseñor Romero presented an amazing opportunity for her and her daughters.
The waitlist for Monseñor Romero was a sign that the transformation of the old Deauville was complete. In 2008, a fire ripped through the building. On the north side, only the façade remained; on the south side, smoke damage was extensive. All the residents made it out unharmed, but everyone had to be relocated.
The Deauville had been deteriorating and dysfunctional. Residents were fighting with the landlord to make improvements. After the fire, the tenants’ association bought the property and promised that anyone who wanted to return could.
It took years of continuous effort, but the building finally reopened in 2014 as Monseñor Romero Apartments, named in honor of the assassinated El Salvadorian Catholic Church Bishop who was a champion of the poor and social justice.
While simply bringing the building up to code was a huge improvement over the former Deauville, the developer, NHT-Enterprise, went above and beyond. The construction team preserved the historic façade. They incorporated stained-glass windows from a nearby church and a newly-commissioned sculpture of Monseñor Romero into the lobby. The new building meets Enterprise Green Communities Criteria, even exceeding the requirements with help from a D.C. grant.
Most important, NHT-Enterprise created decent apartments and community spaces for the residents.
When it reopened, more than half of the 63 apartments at Monseñor Romero became home to returning residents. In just two days, the property manager received more than 100 rental applications for the remaining 25 homes.
When Carmen got the call from the management company that a two-bedroom apartment was available, she was so happy she cried. “Everybody wants to live here,” she says.
Their new apartment is larger and more affordable than their previous home. “And, everything is close by,” Carmen says, including the girls’ schools, the Metro, the bus and Target. And the neighborhood is family friendly – even closing the streets for trick-or-treating on Halloween.
“I love this place,” Carmen adds. Her daughters smile in agreement.