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D.C. Region: Millions Flow to Former Councilman

POSTED: 04:35 PM ET, 12/ 8/2008 by Derek Kravitz

When the housing development known as Walter E. Washington Estates replaced a deteriorating apartment complex in Southeast Washington in 2003, it was hailed as a turning point for the city.

But an investigation by The Post's Debbie Cenziper found that the project was marred by "unchecked spending" and deals that benefitted the developer, longtime D.C. councilman and former HUD official H.R. Crawford. Despite promises that the tenants who partnered with Crawford would get help buying the new townhouses, only three moved in to the rebuilt community.

Since Walter E. Washington was complete, $8 million in public funding has been awarded to four other Crawford projects, and after he was joined by partners, tens of millions more. None of those projects has been completed.

Beginning last March in its "Forced Out" series, The Post has detailed how D.C. landlords emptied rental apartments, often by refusing to correct dangerous conditions, so the buildings could be converted to condominiums. The city often failed to enforce its housing codes and rubber-stamped the conversions.

The seventh installment published Sunday, "Building on Broken Promises," told how Crawford obtained millions in affordable-housing money from the city and federal governments and spent hundreds of thousands on his own company even after paying himself developer's fees.

In response, Crawford said he did "the best I could managing some of the toughest developments in lower-income communities, the work that very few wanted to do."

Marc Fisher noted on his blog, "Raw Fisher," that "Crawford's business operations are a jumble of contradictions. He sets out to build affordable housing for Washingtonians who've never owned anything in their lives, yet his grand plans often include pushing families out of homes they've had for decades."

In an online chat this afternoon, Cenziper said that when The Post contacted HUD, the agency "said they would launch an investigation at Walter E. Washington Estates, so we'll see what happens with that."

By Derek Kravitz |  December 8, 2008; 4:35 PM ET D.C. Landlords
Previous: Report: White House Deleted 'Coalition of the Willing' Lists | Next: Freddie Mac Documents, Lawyer Accused of Fraud, Tenants, Lenders Exposed to Scams

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