Organization History

MHCDO Exterior

Since our Founding in 1979…

This historic, Black-Led Organization has a legacy of training, supporting, and investing in the Ward 7 community. As one of the oldest and largest Community Development Corporations in the District of Columbia, MHCDO’s focus is increasing economic equity in areas such as homeownership, employment, entrepreneurship, health care, and public safety.



The organization’s headquarters, the Lloyd D. Smith Center, is named for MHCDO’s President and CEO from 1990-1998. Smith oversaw a period of rapid growth for the organization, creating new housing and launching education and drug prevention programs that cemented MHCDO’s reputation for its pioneering community revitalization efforts.

In 2019-2020, MHCDO served over 1,279 DC residents.

92% were African-American and 81% were below Area Median Income (AMI).


Lloyd D Smith (BW)
Housing Expo
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In 1976, a community activist and then President of the Marshall Heights Civic Association, Loretta Tate organized a handful of citizens to petition the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) to rehabilitate dilapidated housing, to install curbs, and to install sidewalks in their community, The Marshall Heights Community Development Organization, Inc. was founded in 1979 by the original task force headed by Loretta Tate. In September 1979, the MHCDO Bylaws were adopted. After hiring Lloyd D. Smith in 1979, the Organization blossomed into an international model. MHCDO's primary source of revenue was generated through housing and economic development. During that period MHCDO acquired the East River shopping center for $2.4 million dollars, developed 230 affordable homeownership units, acquired 80 rental units, and two commercial buildings. MHCDO has five components that comprise its economic development model: Health, Small Business Development, Housing Counseling Services, Real Estate Development, and Workforce Development Training. Below are some of the organization’s highlights:

HouSing Production

  • Banneker Ridge:  27 units of single family detached “for sale” homes, and the first ‘new home’ development that had been built in Ward 7 in nearly 40 years.
  • Hilltop Terrace:  20 new construction single-family detached for sale homes adjacent to the Marshall Heights neighborhood.
  • Chaplin Woods Townhomes:  22-unit townhome development designed as an impact project to attract new buyers to the community.
  • Deanwood Station.  12 newly constructed condos across the street from the Deanwood Metro-rail station.
  • Meadow Green Courts:  conversion of 870 mostly 1-bedroom apartment units to 470 mostly 2 & 3-bedroom apartment units.
  • Transitional & Supportive Housing:  renovated 5 abandoned buildings to create a 58-bed SRO (Single Room Occupancy), and four separate transitional and supportive housing facilities.
  • Scattered Site Single Family Production Program:  targeted neighborhood redevelopment creating affordable single-family detached homes for first time buyers.  The program produces 4-7 units per year, and to date nearly 120 in-fill homes have been built.


  •  Coordination of the improvement of 48 commercial facades along the Minnesota Avenue-Benning Road business district, the ‘Downtown’ of Ward 7.


  • Redevelopment and expansion of the Northeast Business Park, a partnership between MHCDO and Kenilworth Industrial Park, LLC.  The Park includes the small business center that provides below-market office space to 10 small business tenants, and the local headquarters for VMS, Inc.


  • Community Lending Program and Services:   MHCDO assisted in identifying and recruiting the franchisee and securing the sites and financing to bring the only sit-down restaurants located in the East Washington area of the City -- Denny’s Restaurant and the Chesapeake Bagel Bakery.  MHCDO has also administered a successful micro-loan program for small business owners who did not have access to traditional capital markets.


  • Awarded $200,000 for FY2021 with a commitment for FY2022 for the Pennsylvania Avenue East Main Street (PAEMS) Program. This local Main Street program is a vital step within our comprehensive revitalization strategy, providing capacity to drive the corridor’s near and long-term economic development. MHCDO is the manager of PAEMS. MHCDO partnered with the Pennsylvania Avenue East Community Coalition (PAECC) to develop Pennsylvania Avenue SE Economic Development Strategy Budget Justification Memos to secure funding for the PAEMS and the Pennsylvania Avenue East Corridor Small Area Plan. This corridor level planning initiative will be led by the DC Office of Planning to address stakeholder needs, identify resources, and develop a strategy to support this critical and under-served corridor.


MHCDO continues to open doors of opportunity for individuals and to transform lives and neighborhoods in the District of Columbia's Ward 7, located east of the Anacostia River on the eastern side of the city. Ward 7 spans over 3,512 acres comprised of 29 neighborhoods. Ward 7's unique community assets include Kenilworth Gardens, operated since 1935 by the U.S. National Park Service and home to over 40 species of water flowers and plants; Woodlawn Cemetery, one of the oldest burial grounds for African Americans; and the Nannie Helen Burroughs School, founded in 1909 as the only private school for African-American girls and women on the East Coast. Notable neighborhoods include Deanwood, Capitol View, Benning Heights, Marshall Heights, Hillcrest, Dupont Park, Penn Branch, and Randle Highlands.