Monday, May 26, 2014

Help Fight the Removal of Funds Earmarked for H Street Business Development

The H Street Corridor is now a region-wide attraction, but the hard work is far from done. Local investment is still very much needed.

The following is a very important plea from H Street Main Street Executive Director Anwar Saleem. H Street Main Street ("HSMS") is the local merchant's association. They have played, and continue to play, a vital role in the redevelopment of the H Street Corridor. The potential loss of funding would be a great detriment to our beloved Corridor. Please urge your Councilmembers to continue to support small business development along our Corridor.

Anwar's plea:

The Mayor’s economic development team is actively maneuvering to undermine all the work we have done over the last decade.  H Street NE is not finished!  There is still a lot of work to be done on H Street NE and important corridors extending from and to H Street.

The Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) was an important partner in helping H Street propel forward from 30 percent ground floor vacancy to under 10 percent today and toward a number of other important milestones and accolades.  However, current DMPED staff has proposed to take funds that have accrued in the H Street N.E. Retail Priority Grant Fund (Grant Fund) and to disburse them to other neighborhood commercial districts.  Again … H Street NE is not finished!

The Grant Fund is an H Street accomplishment and a testament to all of our ongoing effort to revitalize H Street.  The funds in the account are based on the difference in value added tax wise on H Street between 2007 and today.  We all have worked to realize this difference on H Street.  Now, DMPED has presented legislation to DC Council within the current budget discussion that would take the Grant Fund valued at approximately $20 million through 2017 and send it potentially to Connecticut Avenue NW, 7th Street/Georgia Avenue NW, Adams Morgan, Mount Pleasant Street NW, and other retail priority areas beyond H Street.  H Street NE is not finished!

HSMS certainly wants ALL District commercial corridors to be successful and attractive to immediate neighbors and visitors, but H Street is not done yet.  With streetcar coming online and a number of development projects with new retail space and ongoing improvements needed in existing retail buildings, H Street needs to maintain available resources to assist with attracting and retaining important retail venues.

Both Benning Road and Bladensburg Road are important to what happens on H Street NE.  Developments along both corridors are already benefiting from their intersection with and proximity to H Street.  There is a unique opportunity to work directly with property and business owners on each of these corridors to organize and prepare them for new and complementary investments.  They have asked for assistance from HSMS, and HSMS has the capacity to assist.  DMPED has denied funding to HSMS and now claims that helping retail priority areas throughout the entire city is consistent with helping Benning Road and Bladensburg Road NE.

The help we need from you urgently is your voice!  Please call and email the DC Council before 5 PM on Tuesday, May 27, 2014 and asked them for the following:

Dear Councilmember,

Please help us help the city by continuing to support our efforts on H Street NE.  H Street NE is not finished!  We need all available resources, including and especially the funding of the H Street NE Retail Priority Grant Fund, for H Street NE and important commercial streets intersecting with H Street at its eastern end.

We understand that HSMS has presented preferred language to Council that protects H Street’s interest while offering to assist other corridors on a one-time, demonstration basis.  That preferred language should be adopted in lieu of what DMPED has presented.

Thanks in advance for your work on this.  We will watch the hearing on Wednesday to confirm your support.

Please send the above support message to and call the following DC Councilmembers:

Phil Mendelson (Chair),, 202.724.8032
David Catania,, 202.724.7772
Muriel Bowser,, 202.724.8052
Vincent Orange,, 202.724.8174
David Grosso,, 202.724.8105
Anita Bonds,, 202.724.8064
Jim Graham,, 202.724.8181
Jack Evans,, 202.724.8058
Mary M. Cheh,, 202.724.8062
Kenyan McDuffie,, 202.724.8028
Tommy Wells,, 202.724.8072
Yvette Alexander,, 202.724.8068
Marion Barry,, 202.724.8045
Thanks for your ongoing support of HSMS and our joint efforts on H Street NE.  Please email me at


Anonymous said...

I'm not sold on this campaign. The most recent IRS form 990 on this "non-profit" (EIN 41-2059305) is from 2010 and shows that they took in almost half a million dollars that year, most from DC government taxpayer money.

The money was provided to them for two main things: 1) clean up H Street with sweeping teams, and 2) fund the annual festival. And, they didn't even do the cleaning themselves- they contracted it out to another group to actually do the work (Gospel Rescue Ministries).

Looking at the report, Anwar Saleem makes $55,000 per year for reportedly working full time, but it's unclear what he's doing if the street cleaning task is just contracted out to another group entirely.

Since H Street has grown much in the past 4 years, I would expect that Mr. Saleem's salary and the amount of taxpayer dollars spent on his non-profit has increased for what appears to be mostly a middleman group for street cleaning and the rest going to the one-day annual street festival.

Would Mr. Saleem be willing to release the most recent IRS form 990 showing his groups expenses and income? I Googled and can't find anything past 2010, but noted they got $100k last year to clean Bladensburg Rd (given the condition of Starburst Park, is this happening?)

inked said...

It is true that HSMS has not been great about posting their most recent financial reports. That is unfortunate. HSMS is a very small non-profit that maybe employs a handful of people.

Last time I checked, they had two full-time employees. It is expected that such programs contract out cleaning, and other similar services. It really is just the nature of the program.

inked said...

I forgot to mention that Anwar did leave his contact info on the post. I think you questions are quite valid. I think you should absolutely contact him with your questions & urge him to post more recent financial info. Thanks for asking the hard questions!

Annoyingmous said...

Inked -- you caught the news about XII, and the other stabbing that occurred on H Street NE as well, right? There's been a little discussion of it in the comments of an unrelated post.

inked said...

I have seen it. I am a bit behind on certain stuff. My girlfriend, puppy, & cat have taken up too much of my time.

12th and H said...

I'm a bit suspicious of this situation as well. Why does DC give money to a middle man who then takes a cut before giving out the rest? If DC wants to give out grants and contract out cleaning services, why not do it directly and save the salary paid to the HSMS middle man?

Anonymous said...

contracting out the cleaning service and help setting up the festival hardly justifies two full-time employees. i would like for the $ to stay in our neighborhood, but we don't need a waste of tax payer dollars. give it to the other neighborhoods if we can't spend it correctly

Hillhound said...

I think the many are losing sight of the original post and focusing on the salary and the duties of HSMS. As a former Main Street manager, I am quite familiar with the daily activities and responsibilities of the job and it is much more than being a middleman and contracting out for cleaning services. It would be more useful for us to focus on the issue of the reallocation of DEDICATED funds.
If you think that H Street doesn't need those funds and they should be redistributed then just say that....if not, let's focus on how to maintain the funds so that we can see continued improvement and growth in our still "emerging" community. I for one think that there is still much to do in the community in the community and based on the comments on this and other posts, I would say that there is some agreement. HSMS to my knowledge has done a credible job with a skeleton crew and are constantly looking for volunteers so if you want to see them do better...volunteering your much needed services is a great place to start.

h st ll said...

I've met Mr. Saleem a few times and don't know him well.

That said, almost every time I'm at an H Street related meeting he has been there. He is all over the street working. And 55k is not a large salary.

More transparency is always good but nothing looks out of line here, and dude works really hard.

Anonymous said...

Anwar works tirelessly for HstNE. If you don't know don't know anything about HstNE.

Anonymous said...

Anwar is wrong.


Anonymous said...

"nothing looks out of line here, and dude works really hard. "

Except 1) the latest tax forms aren't available (have they filed them?)


2) $55k+ (assuming he's given himself a raise in 4 years with our tax dollars) *is* a lot of money to just dole out a few grants for a few blocks of the city and organize a one-day event.

inked said...

Those are two of the many things he does. It's not an exhaustive list.

Anonymous said...

Why do you think Anwar doles out grants? What grants are you talking about...the H street NE retail grant? He has zero to do with who gets any money. He does not administer the money he does not choose the grantees he does not have the power to influence any of it.

Anonymous said...

so we know he is responsible for doing at least 2 things and going to meetings, so how else has the money been used?

is the H Street Manager responsible for the use of the funds? how have they been used so far by H Street Managers?

Anonymous said...

so it seems the money hasn't been used. it's a matter of use or lose maybe. h street didn't use so we lose

Anonymous said...

^damn, what is that about?

inked said...

Sorry. Troll comment.

Anonymous said...

This has digressed into an ad hominem attack on HSMS when in reality they are only serving to involve the public in the DCMPED decision.

HSMS was not among the recipients of the money from the last distribution (Stans, Bikram, Care Pharmacy, Cat Walk Boutique) and would not be a recipient from this distribution (they do not qualify). HSMS does not directly benefit from the retail grants.

Anonymous said...

it's not a trolling when someone acknowledges that the money doesn't exclusively belong to H street use. it belongs to the city. the money hasn't been used, and no one knows of any plans to use the money, so why is it so trolling for the money to return money to the city?

the city isn't going to use the returned money to something unrelated like pay public school teachers more money, they will redistribute it to other neighborhoods that will spend it better.

use or lose. it's simple. we didn't use it, we lost it

Anonymous said...

inked, aren't part of the funds donated by established businesses across the city to fund future H ST development? If that's the case, then by no means should these be dispersed to other parts of town.

inked said...

1:23 was actually referring to a completely off topic comment that I deleted. It wasn't a reference to the comment at 12:04. Sorry, I should have indicated that.

Clearly 12:04 is NOT a troll comment.

I believe the funds come from real property & sales tax generated in our area. pdf here.

pat said...

for those interested I popped an Email to Kenyan McDuffie, he's our Councilmember
out on the edge of forever.

Tom A. said...

woah. I checked with guidestar, and HSMS hasn't filed taxes with the IRS since 2010.

I've never know guidestar to miss anything. If a nonprofit has filed their taxes, guidestar has a copy of it.

HillHound528 said...

HSMS is a nationally recognized Main Street Program. It was recognized in 2013 as a Great American Main Street by the National Main Street Program which is a subsidiary of the National Truct for Historic Preservation.

Just figured, I'd throw that out there since this is what came up when I Googled HSMS.

Now back to the issues of retaining funding for H Street...any other ideas as to what needs to be done to ensure that these dedicated funds remain in our community.

Anonymous said...

I believe Anwar tries to do great work. That being said, he is extremely lousy with follow-up. Being busy is no excuse for not following up in say, you know, 30, 60, 90 days.