09 Jul 2019

Over QR9.5bn real estate deals recorded in 5 months this year

Doha: Qatar’s real estate market has delivered strong performance in the first five months of this year. The real estate sector has witnessed deals valuing more than QR9.5bn during January-May 2019, according to the data of Planning and Statistics Authority, which shows the sector remains attractive for investors.

Maximum number of deals in during the period was for vacant plots of land. Among the municipalities, Doha municipality was the most sought as it witnessed highest number of deals in the country.

“Qatar’s real estate market has come a long way since June 2017, when the unjust siege was imposed by the blockading countries. Country’s real estate has shrugged off the impact of siege and is moving ahead with full steam. The average monthly transactions have increased since June 2017, which shows the strength of real estate sector,” a senior official of a real estate consultancy firm told The Peninsula.

“Measures taken by government authorities have played an important role in boosting real estate sectors,” he added.

A total of 1,754 transactions were registered in the first five months of this year. January was the most busy month for the real estate sector as 402 deals were recorded during the month while April registered deals worth QR2.99bn, making it the month with the highest value of deals in the first five months of this year. Real estate market in Qatar has evolved over the years with initiatives taken by the government to improve transparency, ownership regulations and overall participation.

Authorities have taken several measures to further strengthen real estate sector. One of major steps was the approval by Cabinet, in March this year, to a draft law on the regulation of non-Qatari ownership and use of real estate. The move is expected to attract long-term capital in Qatar’s resilient real estate sector.

According to real estate consultancy firm ValuStrat, the median transacted price for residential houses, during the first quarter of this year, was QR2.5m. The five largest ticket sizes were seen in The Pearl, Onaiza and Luaib for dwellings ranging from 1,300 square metres (sqm) to 2,700 sqm. A total of 58 transactions were recorded for residential buildings, Al Sadd, Fereej Abdul Aziz, Al Mansoura, Lusail and Fereej Bin Dirham saw the highest transacted values.

The recent law amendment of expanding freehold ownership will attract investors in Qatar’s real estate sector.

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30 Jun 2019

Which Home Exterior Colors Attract Buyers? The Experts at the Estridge Group Real Estate Agency Weigh In

(MENAFN – EIN)

Estridge Group

Top real estate experts in Washington, DC, The Estridge Group, offer their advice for painting your home exterior to attract potential buyers.

WASHINGTON, DC, UNITED STATES, June 26, 2019 / EINPresswire.com / — DC-area residents who are considering selling their homes in the coming months come to theEstridge Group , atop local real-estate agency , for advice on everything from asking price to curb appeal. Believe it or not, according to the experts, the color of your home can affect the time it spends on the market as well as the price you will ultimately get for it. After all, the color of your home makes a crucial first impression. The Estridge Group recommends homeowners consider the following colors for their home exteriors.

According to national surveys, roughly 40% of all American homeowners choose white for their home exteriors. There are many reasons for this. Not only is white viewed as a ‘clean’ color – and that’s why it is so common in hospitals and doctor’s offices – but it also makes the home appear larger than it actually is. It can also help to offset any bright pops of color in the trim or the landscaping, which creates focal points that can make a home more attractive.
If white is a little too pristine, the Estridge Group also recommends beige as a great alternative. Though it can have a brown or yellow tint, it is considered neutral and clean. It blends in well on almost any property, but it is better suited for homes that are tucked into homes surrounded by wooded areas or heavily landscaped. Accents like navy blue, hunter green, black, and even white make exciting accents for beige.

White and beige take center stage because their neutrality makes it easy for potential buyers to decide how the home would look if they painted it according to their own personal style. For this reason, real estate experts recommend against painting homes’ exteriors or interiors bold colors; this can make your home feel as if it is too personal for potential buyers and put them off making an offer.

Of course, aside from the exterior walls and trim, another important consideration is the color of your home’s front door. If you’ve chosen to paint your home a neutral beige or brown, then a bold eye-catching color like red or even burgundy would be a great choice. On the other hand, if your home’s exterior is stark white, you might want to choose a more toned-down version of the color. For stone or brick, choose a door color that is found within it.

For more information and tips for selling your Washington, DC or Bethesda, MD home, visit theEstridge Group websitetoday or give them a call at 301-657-9700.

About the Company: The Estridge Group is headquartered in Bethesda, MD and serves homebuyers and sellers throughout the DC area. They are recognized as top producers in the region with over $1 billion in sales over their 30 years in the industry. They are within the top 0.5% of REALTORS nationwide and continue to deliver professional guidance and outstanding results to each of their client. For more information please visithttps://www.theestridgegroup.com .

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19 Jun 2019

Washington, DC, Music Education Association Chapter Relaunches

“DCMEA will provide professional growth opportunities, …foster public support for music in schools, offer quality musical experiences for students, … and develop and maintain productive working relationships with other professional organizations.”

RESTON, Va. (PRWEB)
June 14, 2019

The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) proudly announces the new federated music education association relaunched in the nation’s capital, the DC Music Education Association (DCMEA). Since January 2019, a small group of volunteers has met virtually and in person to strategize, review bylaws and a mission statement, and elect officers. The next in-person meeting will be held June 19, in conjunction with the NAfME National Leadership Assembly, taking place at the Washington Hilton June 17-21. Learn more about DCMEA at washingtondcmea.org.

“This is an exciting time for NAfME and the future of music education,” said Mike Blakeslee, NAfME Executive Director and CEO. “As we are well into the new millennium, and both our student populations and the direction of music education are changing, it is critical that NAfME keep pace with all students’ needs and the new opportunities in the ever-growing discipline of music education, while also upholding the updated music standards in giving direction to promoting the understanding and making of music by all. This relaunch of the DCMEA chapter with fresh voices and new ideas to meet the music education needs of all Washington, DC, students is a significant step toward that goal.”

“As the new president of DCMEA, I am dedicated to our goal of advocating for and advancing music education across Washington, D.C.,” added DCMEA President Joshua Krohn. “DCMEA will also provide professional growth opportunities, encourage interaction among music education professionals, foster public support for music in schools, offer quality musical experiences for students, cultivate a universal appreciation of and lifetime involvement in music, and develop and maintain productive working relationships with other professional organizations.”

Joshua Krohn has been an elementary music specialist, band and choral director, elementary music clinician, professional developer, and private music instructor. Over the last sixteen years he has led full-scale Broadway-style musicals, before-school orchestras, choirs, wind ensembles, guitar ensembles, recorder ensembles, theater clubs, and after-school tutoring for thousands of Washington, DC, Public Schools (DCPS) elementary students. Since 2009 Krohn has led close to 60 music professional development sessions both locally and nationally. By 2010 Krohn was leading more than 110 DCPS music teachers in quarterly professional developments. Since 2012, he has been nominated for D.C. Teacher of the Year five times, and since 2014, he has been nominated for the National LifeChanger of the Year award three times. Krohn has also been twice nominated for a Grammy Music Educator Award. In 2016 Krohn was a District Course Chair for DCPS music as well as one of the A.C.E. Fellows for Music in DCPS. Krohn has also educated students with mild cognitive impairments through severe cognitive impairments, students with learning and emotional disabilities, and students in urban settings, and has led professional development sessions based on teaching special learners.

The DCMEA President-Elect is Christopher Steele, the Upper Campus music teacher at Oyster-Adams Bilingual School in Northwest DC since 2017. He holds a Master of Music degree in Trombone Performance and a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Therapy from Howard University. He is a low-brass freelance musician (Tenor Trombone, Bass Trombone, Euphonium) in the Washington, DC, and Baltimore, Maryland, areas performing in symphonic, musical theater, and commercial music styles. Steele is an active performer with the Heritage Trombone Ensemble and the Slide Artist Trombone Quartet. He taught private trombone lessons in the DC area for five years while a student at Howard University. He is an active arranger and clinician for middle school, high school, and collegiate band programs. Steele has performed with musical greats including Gloria Estefan, Tony Bennet, Lady Gaga, McCoy Tyner, Dr. Billy Taylor, and Hubert Laws, among others. He is currently pursuing a second Masters degree in Wind Conducting from Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.

Benita Gladney is the Immediate Past President of DCMEA. Gladney is an Assistant Professor and Coordinator of Music Education at Howard University. She earned her D.M.A. degree at the University of Georgia and holds a Master of Music Education degree from Howard University and a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois. Gladney has more than ten years of teaching experience in high school band programs and elementary general music, primarily in Atlanta and Chicago Public Schools. As a band director, her performing groups consistently received superior ratings in music festivals. Along with her teaching duties, she has served as an adjudicator for both concert and jazz band festivals. In 2010, Gladney established a band program at Moi Girls’ High School in Eldoret, Kenya. ‘Kenya Play It’ has provided more than 30 wind band instruments to the school. Since band instruments are uncommon in Kenya, she travels every summer to the school to teach instrumental music lessons. Thanks to her efforts, this project has provided these Kenyan students with an opportunity to learn to play a band instrument in a school setting. Gladney’s primary research interests include music improvisation, urban music education, and music teacher preparation.

DCMEA Treasurer Chad Harris has spent 15 years creating dynamic and engaging music lessons for his students. He has taught in Florida, Alabama, and South Korea, and now teaches elementary music at Stanton Elementary School in Southeast Washington, DC. Harris’s DC performing groups have participated in music festivals at the Kennedy Center’s Millennial and Family stages, where their performances have received the superior rating. Additionally, Harris has received two “Teacher of the Year” awards while teaching in Florida and Alabama. In DC, Harris currently serves as the Teacher Selection Ambassador for Music, conducting all job interviews for incoming music teachers. During his first year in DC, he was awarded the very selective Capital Commitment Fellowship and was given a seat on the DC Chancellor’s Teachers Cabinet. Harris was also placed on the music curriculum writing team, and his lessons are now in the DC music curriculum.

Washington, DC, music educators are encouraged to join colleagues on June 19 at the Washington Hilton to discuss DCMEA next steps, including professional development opportunities and events. Music educators may RSVP by sending an email to Elizabeth Lasko, NAfME Director of Membership and Marketing Communications, at ElizabethL(at)nafme(dot)org.

June 19 is also the annual NAfME “Hill Day.” Music educators from around the country will participate in meetings with members of Congress to advocate for provision and funding for music education. DC music educators are encouraged to join advocacy training in the morning and visit Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton after the training (the DCMEA meeting will take place in the afternoon). Music educators who plan to participate in the Capitol Hill visit must notify Thomas Stefaniak at NAfME (ThomasS(at)nafme(dot)org) for scheduling arrangements.

National Association for Music Education, among the world’s largest arts education organizations, is the only association that addresses all aspects of music education. NAfME advocates at the local, state, and national levels; provides resources for teachers, parents, and administrators; hosts professional development events; and offers a variety of opportunities for students and teachers. The Association has supported music educators at all teaching levels for more than a century. With more than 60,000 members teaching millions of students nationwide, the organization is the national voice of music education in the United States.

Follow NAfME on Twitter (twitter.com/nafme) and on Facebook (facebook.com/nafme). For additional information, contact Catherina Hurlburt at catherinah(at)nafme(dot)org or 571-323-3395.

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09 Jun 2019

Washington, DC brokers pick up Palm Beach home

240 Jungle Road with William F.X. Moody and Dana Landry

Atlanta businessman and venture capitalist Holcombe T. Greene Jr. sold a home in Palm Beach for $7.45 million, $750,000 less than what he paid for it in October.

Property records show Holcombe sold the six-bedroom, 5,521-square-foot home at 240 Jungle Road to investors William F.X. Moody and Dana E. Landry, who are brokers and founding partners of Washington Fine Properties in Washington, D.C.

The Palm Beach home sold in October for $8.2 million, property records show.

The nearly half-acre property, designed by architect Maurice Fatio, includes a library with a fireplace, tower guest bedroom, a three-car garage, a two-bedroom guest apartment over the garage, as well as a pool.

Ann Summers of Brown Harris Stevens of Palm Beach represented Greene, while Landry represented himself and Moody, according to Realtor.com.

Green, who was once CEO of a textiles manufacturing company, founded Green Capital Investors LP in Atlanta.

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30 May 2019

Middle-income seniors risk falling through cracks in housing market

Susan Mitchell checks a bedroom ahead of an Airbnb guest’s arrival at her home in the District. Over the past four decades, the market for seniors’ housing and care has greatly expanded. But they are often out of the financial reach of many of the nation’s 8 million middle-income seniors. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)

May 28

Mary Gerace has lived in the District since 1963 and loves it. But at 73, she worries that someday she may become too frail to stay in the rent-controlled third-floor walk-up apartment in Glover Park where she has lived for 42 years. Then, she fears, she won’t be able to afford to remain in the city.

“I’m fine now, thank goodness, but a surprise fall or a serious illness could change that,” said Gerace, who retired three years ago from working in human resources at a small company. The low rent on her apartment, which she shares with her brother, enables her to own a car, eat out sometimes and take occasional day trips.

But local senior housing facilities she has looked into cost many times more than what she now pays, and far more than her savings would cover. “As I look around the Washington area, I realize that I’m going to have to look outside of here,” possibly in another region of the United States, she said.

In the next decade, the number of seniors who are middle income is projected to soar, and a large share of them will be unable to afford housing and care, according to a recent study published in the journal Health Affairs.

Over the past 40 years, the housing market for seniors has expanded widely, but new development has focused largely on higher-end facilities, said the report, which used data from the Health and Retirement Study, a national longitudinal study of people age 50 and older sponsored by the National Institute on Aging and conducted by the University of Michigan.

Seniors who have too much income to qualify for government-subsidized housing and don’t make enough to live in a luxury development will be left behind. That could end up costing the government more money, said Beth Mace, an author of the study and chief economist at the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing and Care.

“The fear is that if they’re not served, they’ll be required to spend down to Medicaid, which will put more pressure on our Medicaid coffers,” she said, adding that the left-behind segment will include “schoolteachers, firefighters — the basic labor force.”

By 2029, the number of middle-income seniors is projected to nearly double, from 7.9 million to 14.4 million, said the study. (It also noted that after 2029, as baby boomers age into their late 80s and 90s, the number of seniors needing additional care will grow even more significantly.)

The study defines middle-income seniors as people ages 75 to 84 who have $25,000 to $74,000 a year, or $25,000 to $95,000 a year for those ages 85 and older. Of those, 20 percent are projected to be “high needs” (having three or more chronic conditions and difficulties with one or more daily living activities) and 60 percent will have mobility limitations that may prevent them from living independently.

For those without homes to sell or borrow against, the outlook is bleak: In 2029, 81 percent of middle-income seniors without equity in housing will have an annual income that is below the projected annual $62,000 for assisted living rent and estimated out of pocket medical spending, the study found. For those who do have housing equity, the numbers are still sobering: 54 percent will still be unable to pay for senior housing, the study found.

“Even if we assume that seniors devote 100 percent of their annual income to seniors housing — setting aside any personal expenses — only 19 percent of middle-income seniors will have financial resources that exceed today’s costs of assisted living,” it said.

The situation is the result of a perfect economic, sociological and policy storm that has been brewing for several decades. More Americans live alone than in the past and family sizes have shrunk, requiring people to be more self-reliant as they age. At the same time, life expectancy has risen, pension plans have become less common, and real estate prices have soared.

In metropolitan areas such as Washington, D.C., where the cost of living is higher than the national average, the problem is especially acute. The region has some perks for older people, such as public transportation and a wide network of senior villages to help people age in place.

But here and in other metro areas, new housing is often geared toward high-earning younger people, and few homes have design features that would allow older adults to age in place, such as wheelchair accessibility and levers instead of knobs, said Elizabeth White, author of “55, Underemployed, and Faking Normal: Your Guide to a Better Life,” a book about older adults in financial jeopardy.

“The suppliers are not yet responding to the market,” White said. “You should be able to design a 300- to 400-square-foot space that is affordable rather than what is now on the market, which is generally targeting affluent millennials.”

The lack of affordable housing is a central concern for participants in the Aging Solo classes offered by Iona Senior Services, a nonprofit group serving the Washington area.

“I can feel the tension rising” when the subject comes up, said Susan Messina, the organization’s deputy director. “People talk about how ‘I can’t afford the Inglesides [a higher-end facility with multiple locations in the Washington area] but I don’t qualify for subsidized housing.’”

Some senior residences require a six-figure initial payment just to move in, which residents often pay for by selling their homes. But for renters, that is not an option, and for many homeowners, too, it is out of reach.

Some are finding creative solutions, such as moving in with friends or taking in boarders.

Susan and Phil Mitchell relax on their front porch swing in the District. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)

After their retail businesses collapsed during the 2008 recession. Susan Mitchell, 74, and her husband started renting out rooms in their house in American University Park — often called A.U. Park — where they have lived for 32 years. They plan to continue doing so as long as they are in good health.

But if that changes, she said, they don’t know what they will do. If they were to need significant medical help, they worry the options in the area would be largely out of their price range.

“We might have to go to a smaller town where I believe it’s more affordable,” said Mitchell, who used to work as an office manager for their stores. She added, “We have — sort of in jest, sort of not — talked about having a commune with people we know.”

Mace said she hopes the study will spur policymakers and developers to be more creative.

For example, the study said, jurisdictions could offer incentives for developers to build more basic, less expensive housing and include lower-income housing in higher-end projects; senior housing could be structured to more formally involve family caregivers and other community members to offset staffing costs; Medicare could expand to cover more services; or Medicaid could widen its eligibility and coverage areas.

“Our hope is to try and create the beginnings of conversations on solutions,” Mace said.

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20 May 2019

Supermarket Spike: Measuring Apartment Rent Growth Around New Grocery Stores

Want to get a jump-start on upcoming deals? Meet the major D.C. players at one of our upcoming events!

Apartment developers expect to receive higher rents when a new grocery store opens next door, but a new report sheds light on which grocery chains come with the largest rent premiums and where in the D.C. region that premium tends to be highest.

Across the D.C. region, apartments near a new grocery store had rents more than 5% higher than the submarket average at the time of the store’s opening, Newmark Knight Frank’s Grocery Store Effect report found.

NKF’s report analyzed 55 grocery stores across the region that have opened since January 2014 and 402 apartment properties within a nearby radius, defined as a half-mile for the District and 1 mile for Northern Virginia and Suburban Maryland.

NKF Research Director Bethany Schneider said she expected to find grocery stores associated with higher rents, but was surprised by the magnitude of the rent premium.

"The overall premium of 5.1% higher than the submarket average was pretty surprising," Schneider said. "That is a significant premium."

The rent premium was highest in the District, with apartments near new D.C. grocery stores achieving an 11.4% premium over the submarket average at the time of the store’s opening. The premium was 4.2% in suburban Maryland and 3.5% in Northern Virginia. Schneider attributed this to fewer people owning cars in the District than in the suburbs.

"Having a grocery store right there is a lot more important when you don’t have a car than it is in the suburbs when you could go further," Schneider said. "I think that’s why the premiums in D.C. area are a lot more than in the suburbs, because the accessibility is more important."

The report compared rent prices upon the stores’ opening with the latest rent price as of Q1, finding that the rent premium around most new grocery stores peaks when the store opens and then decreases over time. Additionally, it found apartment rents begin increasing after the announcement of a new store, even if the store has not yet opened.

"We attributed it to the novelty of a new store," Schneider said. "Apartment owners are able to market that there is a brand-new grocery store less than a mile away and bake that into their rental rates."

Rent premiums were much higher in apartment developments anchored by grocery stores in the ground floor, rather than just being within a short walk, the report found. In the District, grocery-anchored apartments achieved a 10.4% premium over other apartments within a half-mile radius and a 24.6% premium over the submarket average.

Stonebridge Managing Principal Doug Firstenberg, who developed the Harris Teeter-anchored Constitution Square in NoMa and Flats 8300 in Bethesda and recently signed Wegmans to anchor an Alexandria project, said he consistently sees higher rents for grocery-anchored projects, and now underwrites that premium when projecting finances for new developments.

"Our theory when we did our first grocery store and apartment building in 2006 was that we would certainly see a rate premium and hopefully a lease-up premium," Firstenberg said. "Having now done that several times, without question we have seen both. We have also seen an occupancy premium on a long-term basis."

Whole Foods, the popular organic grocer commonly associated with rising housing prices, achieved the highest rent premium, NKF’s report found. Apartments near new Whole Foods stores had 8.4% rent premiums over the submarket average at the time of the stores’ opening. But Safeway was not far behind, achieving an 8.2% rent premium upon the opening of the store.

Harris Teeter came next with a 7.9% premium, followed by Lidl with 5.9%, Giant with 4.2%, Trader Joe’s with 2.9% and Aldi with a 2.6% premium.

Schneider said the sample sizes when measuring individual grocery store chains were smaller than the full data set and more likely to be affected by outliers and other factors affecting rent prices. For example, the opening of Safeway stores in Hyattsville and Petworth achieved 19.2% and 18.4% premiums, respectively, which were much higher premiums than the other Safeways measured.

The Hyattsville Safeway at 3702 East-West Highway, which opened in 2016 as part of an Echo Real Estate development, shows the conditions that can lead grocery stores to be associated with massive rent spikes.

"In the case of the one on East-West Highway, that whole development was new and was in an area that is quickly developing with higher amenities in a place that didn’t have them before," Schneider said. "For that reason, rents are rising pretty rapidly there."

Studying apartment rents associated with new grocery stores presents a natural chicken-and-egg dilemma, Schneider said, because grocery stores can cause rent spikes, but they also tend to open in areas already experiencing rent increases. But she said that distinction should not matter for apartment developers.

"It’s a little bit of both, but in the end the premium seems to be present across the board, so for developers the reason behind the premium is less significant than the fact the premium is there," Schneider said. "It seems grocery stores are a good bet for developers in every case."

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10 May 2019

Why Last Night’s #MOECHELLA Protest Was a Big Deal for DC

Screenshot via Twitter

Over the past month, the hashtag #DontMuteDC—in response to the reported silencing of go-go music at the MetroPCS in Shaw—has become something of a movement. There have been rallies, concerts, and petitions in DC, and think pieces from Slate and the New Yorker aimed at a broader audience. The proximate cause of the agita was an April 8 incident in which a cell-phone store was ordered to stop playing music outside its storefront on a fast-gentrifying corner of Shaw. The real cause is Washington’s ongoing discomfort with the demographic and economic changes that have swept the city.

Last night, that movement took a much higher-profile turn, in the form of a traffic-stopping concert-cum-demonstration featuring the legendary go-go ensemble Backyard Band. The pop-up show took place at the corner of 14th and U Streets, once the center of black life in Washington, but more recently a center of luxury apartments inhabited by non-black newcomers.

The protests was called Moechella, a composite of “Moe” (a piece of DC slang that roughly means “homeboy/girl”) and Coachella (after the California music festival), and it felt like an inflection point in the fraught politics of a changing, anxious Washington. It was organized by Justin “Yaddya” Johnson, the artist-activist behind Long Live GoGo, a social-media movement that actually predates the MetroPCS fracas.

Johnson, 32, says he’s organized three other rallies at 14th and U since last July. Back then, the motivation was the Amplified Noise Amendment Act, which sought to regulate the volume of DC’s street performers. Johnson says he chose that specific corner because his family was moved out of the 14th Street Corridor as a result of gentrification—or, in his words, “cultural genocide.”

“It’s great for symbolism to show that we can come together and be unified,” he says. “I believe music is one of the most influential forms of getting a message across—it’s the glue of DC. My connection is with the music. We are go-go. Go-go is the culture.”

Last night’s rally, though, was an order of magnitude larger, closing the corner to traffic as thousands of people converged on the intersection. What’s striking is how little advance coverage it got through mainstream mass-media outlets.

Here’s how it came about: Johnson says he first called Backyard Band frontman Anwan “Big G” Glover, organized the performance with the band’s management, put together an itinerary, and word quickly spread on Instagram and Twitter. He also called DJ Domo and DJ Kool, Councilman Robert White, and a friend who is a sound engineer to set up the speakers. Activist Ron Moten organized the demonstration’s police presence, hoping to “de-escalate” any potentially dangerous situations. “It’s just the responsible thing to do, whether it’s a football game, big event, or a large concert,” Moten says.

All told, it took only about four days to get all the bands and DJs involved. “Being from the area and involved in the go-go community,” Johnson says, “it wasn’t difficult to get people out there.”

#MOECHELLA was classic. Three thousand people singing Pretty Girls #DontMuteDC ( via @BackyardBand) pic.twitter.com/lNljH31ifI

— DC Maryland Virginia (@DMVFollowers) May 8, 2019

One measure of the nascent movement’s growth: Organizers are already arguing about what it means, who leads it, and what to do next. Tone P, the DC producer behind some of locally-bred hip-hop star Wale‘s most popular (and most go-go-influenced) records, says that the protests are starting to lose focus—and becoming more about Johnson’s Long Live GoGo brand.

“Moechella was great,” says Tone, “but I’m worried it’s losing its point. What happened to the original message? People are excited to get a lot of people on the same corner. I like it, but what are we really accomplishing?”

Tone says the goal should be to create action items, such as inviting organizers to speak in front of the crowd about voting, education, and ending gun violence across the District—longstanding causes that go beyond the housing issues at the core of today’s gentrification.

One activist he hopes to see speak is Ron Moten, who has been influential in the #DontMuteDC movement and started a petition to keep go-go music playing at the MetroPCS. Moten attended Moechella to help register people to vote.

Johnson says he has yet to pick a date for the next major event but says there will be more to come this spring and summer. They won’t all be so huge—Johnson’s already organized a few go-go flashmobs at “key locations” like Gallery Place and Foggy Bottom where street performers are regulars. “At this point,” Johnson says, “the only ones who can get in our way is us.”

Note: This article has been updated with the correct spelling of DJ Kool.

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30 Apr 2019

Young Ballet Talents at Washington DC Grand Prix 2019

Posted by Alik Hakobyan, Community Contributor

Various ballet competitions are offered across the country for young students to unite and display their talent.The Classical Ballet Theatre of Maryland, The Russian Ballet Academy of Maryland, exists to give all students in the area of D.C. the chance to receive world-class ballet training and education.
It is through that effort of bringing ballet to all that the professional team of Masters of Ballet founded Washington D.C. Grand Prix.
Regular Washington Grand Prix competition took place
on April 27,28 ,2019 in Annandale ,Virginia. Numerous of young talented ballet dancers came here to take their chance to win and to receive world-ballet master classes and trainings.
The students from Academy of Ballet and Arts,Wheeling, Chicago, led by their Master Bella Levison and two other choreographers of the Academy: Hrachya Kostanyan and Medina Irsalieva were also ready to nail another competition and be among the top tens. Despite the though competition and professional competitors from all over the world the students of the Academy again showed up as the best ones in the country by taking the 1st(solos),2nd and 3rd places (groups) and being among the top tens.The Academy of Ballet and Arts was awarded as the best school .
Another hard competition is triumphed over.The gifted students of the Academy are getting ready for The Rainbow National Dance Competition on May 4,5,2019 aiming to achieve the best results and showing the audience and judges high quality dances.

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20 Apr 2019

Easter Fever: Washington, DC, will be taken over this weekend

WASHINGTON, D.C. (NEXSTAR) — The nation’s Capitol will be turned over to the tourists for the holiday weekend.

Congress is in the middle of its spring recess, and the president is spending the weekend at Mar-a-Lago.

But come Monday — Easter Monday — D.C. will be hopping.

The White House will host the annual Easter Egg Roll and the American Egg Board is donating 74,000 eggs for the event, which is more than double the amount they have provided in previous years. Anne Alonzo, President and CEO of the American Egg Board, said:

"Easter is a major deal for us. We calculate that folks are going to eat about 2.9 billion eggs during this Easter season, and those eggs are going to be used for different purposes. To roll and to decorate, and for also what we call "egg pops." These are the hard-boiled eggs on a stick that people can enjoy on the White House lawn."

For the 42nd year in a row, the Egg Board will present the First Lady with a commemorative (and extravagantly decorated) egg. First Lady Melania Trump will be honored with an egg in commemoration of her "Be Best" anti-bullying campaign. American Egg Board Senior Director Ashley Richardson said:

"We put out a request and we said "What do you think should be the design for this year for the First Lady?’, and they came up back with a lot of different ideas and this particular design is an art form called quilling. And this is paper that has been rolled, and the color I think is particularly beautiful. This is just a gorgeous color, and some of the ideas with the stars and some of the flowers came from the children as well because this is the way they thought the design should be for this year. And the "Be Best" script on top is really a recognition of the First Lady’s campaign dealing with youth. And so it’s a beautiful egg, it’s a chicken egg."

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10 Apr 2019

Subsidized housing renters pay price in roaches, mold, leaks

In this Feb. 20, 2019 photo, Destiny Johnson shows the broken door to her oven that she uses string to hold together, in her apartment in Cedarhurst Homes, a federally subsidized, low-income apartment complex in Natchez, Miss. The complex failed a health and safety inspection in each of the past three years. Upset with conditions, Johnson moved out in late March. (Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press)

NATCHEZ, Miss. — In this city known for pre-Civil War mansions, a young mother shared a government-funded apartment with her three small children and a legion of cockroaches.

They lurked in the medicine cabinet, under the refrigerator, behind a picture on the wall. The mother nudged a bedroom dresser and more roaches skittered away as her 2-year-old son stomped on them.

It was home, sweet home for Destiny Johnson and her kids — until she got fed up and moved out last month.

Inspectors had cited the apartment complex with urgent health and safety violations for the past three years. Yet the federal government continued to pay Johnson’s rent at a property where a three-bedroom unit like hers can run $900 a month.

“I’m not asking for the best,” she told a reporter weeks before leaving, “but something better than this, especially for these kids.”

Health and safety inspection scores at taxpayer-funded apartments assigned to low-income tenants have been declining for years, typically with no serious consequences for landlords, an Associated Press analysis of federal housing data shows.

Johnson’s former apartment is one of nearly 160,000 at private properties with federal contracts that have failed at least one inspection since 1999. Nationwide data show the vast majority of failing inspections involved urgent violations. They can range from electrical hazards to rampant vermin to piles of garbage.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development subsidizes rents for tenants assigned to both privately owned apartments and public housing run by state or local authorities. Many in these 2.1 million households are disabled, elderly or single parents. As the nation’s biggest affordable housing provider, the federal government will spend about $18 billion this year for these two programs.

Yet tenants curse heaters that don’t heat, emergency exits that don’t open, windows that don’t close. They complain of rats, rust, holes and mold.

In 2015 alone, families living in subsidized housing reported at least 155,000 more cases of childhood asthma than expected if the rate were the same as for renters in other households, according to AP’s analysis of a national tenant survey. Medical studies tie asthma to mold.

Federal authorities acknowledge the long slide in inspection scores, which started a decade ago in the privately owned housing. They say in recent years they have been protecting tenants by reinspecting sites with surprisingly high scores and closely monitoring repairs.

“These older properties,” Housing and Urban Development spokesman Brian Sullivan said, “the private owners may not have the means to do needed repairs.”

Conditions have deteriorated so badly in many subsidized buildings that by the government’s own estimate it would take tens of billions of dollars to rehabilitate them.

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Destiny Johnson lived with her children ages 1, 2, and 5, at Cedarhurst Homes on a dead-end street in Natchez, where Mississippi River trading and wealth built on slave plantations have yielded to inveterate poverty among a largely black population.

The heater in Johnson’s apartment didn’t work, so she was using the oven to keep warm until a stovetop fire last year. Johnson, 21, said she tried to use her fire extinguisher, but that didn’t work either, so she rushed to borrow one from a neighbor.

The oven still hadn’t been replaced several months later. Its door was tied closed with a bright pink cord.

In late March, she said, management finally provided a letter that let her move to a nearby subsidized complex with a better inspection record.

“I couldn’t take it anymore,” Johnson said.

A former neighbor who still lives at the 30-unit Cedarhurst Homes, Whitley Williams, wanted to show a reporter and photographer her leaking water heater. The door to its closet was damp and swollen. She tried to heave it open, but the bottom scraped the floor and broke apart.

Her three children prefer to stay elsewhere, with her father.

Federal records list the site owner as The Columbia Property Group, which has managed or owned at least 66 federally contracted properties in Georgia, Florida and its home state of Mississippi.

Company President Melanie Moe referred questions to Bryan King, an officer at Mississippi-based Triangle Development, LLC. In an emailed statement, King said his development company was acquiring Cedarhurst Homes and planned to pursue federal tax credits for a “large renovation.”

The property earned inspection scores of 46, 53, and 54 out of a possible 100 from 2016 through 2018, federal data show. Any score up to 60 is now considered failing. At least three other Columbia Property Group sites have failed inspections since 2011, federal records show.

Federally subsidized private apartments, where tenants typically pay about a third of their income, fare worst in the South. Louisiana had the nation’s highest inspection failure rate at 12%, with Mississippi second at 10%.

Housing experts say landlords in poor, rural communities with low rents can have trouble amassing cash for repairs, despite federal payments.

Nationally, inspection scores at privately owned complexes like Cedarhurst Homes reached a peak of 90 in 2007 during the George W. Bush administration. Scores averaged 86 during Barack Obama’s two terms and 81 under President Trump as of June. AP’s analysis of historical trends uses data released in January. Since then, HUD has been revising its databases and released one that isn’t directly comparable and drops pertinent inspections.

Federal housing officials partly attribute the recent drop in scores to their crackdown on substandard repairs and inflated inspection scores . Under Trump, 92% of inspections found a violation, up from 85% under Obama and 77% under Bush.

Federal housing officials also say their new approach has driven up some scores as managers understand they must take repairs seriously.

In a March report , however, the Government Accountability Office told Congress that HUD’s inspection processes are outdated and need a thorough overhaul to ensure stronger oversight of building conditions.

And tenants in some buildings still complain that management hides problems from inspectors, covering cracks with duct tape, mold with a quick coat of paint, or even old junk with temporary partitions.

Michael Kane, executive director of the National Alliance of HUD Tenants, acknowledged the department has gotten tougher on inspections but said the decline in scores reflects continued deterioration of living conditions.

“As the buildings age, they develop certain kinds of problems. They didn’t have water leaks and mold at the beginning, but they sure … did 40 years later,” he said.

Federal officials acknowledge they must think hard before taking enforcement action that might shutter a property. The federal government ended most of its efforts to build new affordable housing in the 1980s, and private-sector financing for new construction has long been scarce.

HUD’s main programs now rely on the existing, gradually aging housing stock. “We lose the affordable housing forever. You never get it back,” HUD spokesman Sullivan said.

Since the start of 2016, he said, the agency has terminated 36 housing contracts. There are now about 24,000.

Most failing sites get what amounts to a warning and multiple chances to correct violations.

“Yet what’s going to save these programs is aggressive enforcement,” says Linda Couch, a housing policy official at the elderly advocacy group LeadingAge.

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Job cuts over decades have hobbled HUD’s enforcement efforts from within.

“You could walk around all the offices and see all the empty desks where people used to work,” said Merryl Gibbs, a lawyer who enforced anti-discrimination housing law before retiring from the department in 2016.

The Trump administration proposed deep cuts in department funding as recently as March, but Congress has resisted.

Spending for HUD’s main housing programs is expected to increase about 2% to nearly $40 billion this year, by AP’s calculation. The total includes a third program that gives vouchers to another 2.2 million households, letting tenants pick a unit on the private market.

Many housing advocates want more vouchers and incentives for private landlords to accept them. Others suggest increasing tax credits for construction and repairs, more federal staff and resources for better oversight, and more tenant participation in site improvements.

HUD Secretary Ben Carson has acknowledged a drastic shortage of low-cost housing and stressed the federal role. A physician by training, Carson has also pointed to the connection between residential mold and asthma.

That tie is supported in federal data. The share of U.S. households reporting mold was higher in subsidized rentals than other rentals, according to the latest data available from the American Housing Survey. Meanwhile, 13% of subsidized rental households reported at least one child with asthma, compared with 7% for other rentals. The differences hold even accounting for family size and poverty.

Housing advocates say funding remains the bottom line.

“We try and come up with solutions that don’t cost anything,” said Priya Jayachandran, a former senior administrator at HUD and now president of the National Housing Trust. “The answer is money.”

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On a recent visit to Baltimore’s Rosemont Tower for elderly or disabled tenants, stairwells were littered with plastic caps for needles used to inject heroin.

Tenants in this federally funded public housing complained of bedbugs and mice. Signs saying “mandatory fire watch” alerted residents that the sprinkler system was broken, requiring a firefighter to stand watch around the clock.

A recurrent leak has sopped a prized Oriental rug and spread mold into the living room of Della Thomas.

“Every time there’s a real heavy rain, the ceiling gets a big bubble, and it starts to leak. They just kind of patch it up until the next time,” said Thomas, 64. She pointed to a plastic trash can, saying management provided it to catch drips.

Ingrid Antonio, a spokeswoman for the Housing Authority of Baltimore City, said security guards make regular rounds and pest extermination happens at least every three months. She said stairwells are cleaned daily.

To increase funds for repairs, however, the building will be converted to private ownership in coming months but remain subsidized housing, she said.

Inspectors gave the 200-unit high-rise a failing score of 25 in 2017. That jumped to 71 last year, according to the housing authority, though urgent violations and smoke detector problems persisted. A reinspection was planned for later this year.

Of 37 Baltimore public housing sites, 22 failed their last inspection, according to data from HUD and the housing authority.

“Steadily declining federal investment in public housing for more than a decade has taken a tremendous toll,” the city’s housing authority said in a statement.

Largely due to Baltimore’s blighted complexes, since 2013 Maryland had the country’s highest inspection failure rate for public housing at 32%. The District of Columbia was second at 29%. The national average was 10%.

Around the country, inspection scores at public housing have fallen under both Democratic and Republican administrations. Scores averaged 89 during Obama’s second term, dropping to 79 under Trump through March 2018.

HUD’s most recent estimate, from 2010, concluded that public housing needed about $25.6 billion in large-scale repairs and at least $3.4 billion more each year. That would have added up to well over $50 billion by now. Instead, Congress has restricted repair spending to $23.5 billion.

The federal government also has tried to avoid expensive takeovers.

HUD knew for years of broken appliances, pests, racial discrimination and other “deplorable conditions” at buildings run by the Alexander County Housing Authority in southern Illinois, according to the agency’s inspector general. It wasn’t until 2016 that department officials finally took control.

By then, they needed to close four complexes and relocate hundreds of residents.

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Donn reported from Plymouth, Massachusetts. David McFadden in Baltimore contributed.

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Reach Jeff Donn on Twitter at https://twitter.com/jadonn7

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