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Montgomery County Executive Elrich and Councilmember Fani-Gonzalez Announce County Action to Prevent Displacement and Preserve Affordable Housing for 345 Households

For Immediate Release: Friday, June 23, 2023

After tenants of Westchester West Apartments were informed that their building was going to be sold, they worried that rents would rise even more than they already had and so they worked with the community organization Action in Montgomery (AIM), to ask the County to intervene, which it is allowed to do under the County’s Right of First Refusal (RoFR) law. County Executive Marc Elrich, in agreement with Councilmember Natali Fani-Gonzalez, asked the Department of Housing and Community Affairs (DHCA) to find a partner who could preserve the affordability for the long term. This naturally occurring affordable housing rental property includes a large number of three-bedroom or “family-sized” units. After working with non-profit housing organization Enterprise Community Development, on June 8, 2023, Montgomery County’s DHCA purchased Westchester West Apartments, a residential property with 345 units located at 3214 Hewitt Avenue in Aspen Hill, Md., from Westchester Gardens LLC., for $67 million.  

After purchasing the apartment building, DHCA immediately sold the rental housing property to Westchester Apartments, LLC, an Enterprise Community Development affiliate, who will carry out the long-term plan for the property. This includes preserving affordability, curing deferred maintenance, and improving operations and services for residents. When transferring the property to Enterprise Community Development Westchester, the County also provided a $5 million loan for immediate rehab work to address deferred maintenance. 

“Preserving affordable housing is an essential part of a successful affordable housing strategy,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “I directed DHCA to use the County’s right of first refusal to match the sale offer, purchase this building, and then transfer to an affordable housing partner. The bottom-line is that we saved the homes of hundreds of families who could have been forced out by increased rents if we did not intervene. If we are going to solve our affordable housing problems, we must get serious and use everything in our toolbox, including using our right of first refusal to intervene in similar transactions that could price out current residents.” 

Current rents at Westchester West Apartments are considered affordable to households with incomes between 55% and 60% of Area Median Income (AMI) under DHCA’s 2022 rent and income limits.  

Under the terms of this deal, Westchester West Apartments will serve:  

  • 35 households with incomes at or below 50% of AMI;  
  • 275 households with incomes between 50% and 60% of AMI; and 
  • Another 35 units will be unrestricted so as not to displace residents who earn more than 60% of AMI during their tenancy. 

“When I realized that the building was about to be sold, I saw this as an incredible opportunity for the County to intervene," said Councilmember Natali Fani-González (District 6). “Working in partnership with County Executive Elrich, we convened meetings with DHCA, and the community alongside AIM, to discuss how we could make this incredible purchase possible. Our low-income immigrant community took action to protect their families from displacement, and that’s why we are celebrating today.” 

"We are very grateful to the County government for this result,” said Maria Vasquez, a resident at Westchester West Apartments. “For us, giving stability to our children is our priority. Knowing that we have secured our home in an area where our children can access an excellent education is something that fills us with great peace of mind."  

"As a community organizer with AIM, I was inspired to see this community's commitment to fighting for their rights and their families,” said Pilar Olmedo Gordan, community organizer with AIM. “We help those whose voices are marginalized to organize so that they have the same opportunity to speak and be heard and thrive in our county. That is our role. There has to be cooperation between community and our government — this was a successful example of that. When we collaborate, it is amazing to see the impossible become possible."   

Enterprise Community Development assisted DHCA in the underwriting and due diligence of the acquisition opportunity, and Enterprise Community Development has budgeted more than $5 million in capital expenditures over the lifetime of the investment to preserve the long-term viability of the property. Total transaction costs came to $75,835,782, including closing costs, taxes and a loan to allow work to begin quickly on rehab apartments. 

"Preserving the affordability and enhancing the living experience at Westchester West Apartments is not only a crucial step toward ensuring long-term preservation of affordable housing, but also a testament to our commitment to providing residents with a great place to call home,” said Interim President of Enterprise Community Development Christine Madigan. “Through necessary upgrades and improvements, we aim to create a thriving community that fosters a high-quality living experience for all." 

Additional tenant protections for Westchester West Apartments:  

  • Enterprise Community Development will only terminate the tenancy of an affordability restricted unit for cause, and annual rent increases for tenants after their initial occupancy will not exceed the greater of (a) the recommended rental increase under the County's "Voluntary Rent Guidelines or (b) three percent (3%).  
  • In addition, a current tenant's or household's annual rent must not be increased above this annual rent increase cap if the makeup of the household changes (e.g., adding an adult child to the lease or replacing or adding a roommate or household member).  

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Release ID: 23-269
Media Contact: Jennifer Garfinkel 2407776505
Categories: Housing