Friday, July 28, 2017

Dear Howard University Community,

Many of you may have read The Washington Post article dated June 24, 2017, which commented on the progress of the relocation and modernization efforts at the Howard Manor. One of the principles of Howard University’s future vision is to ensure that our real estate holdings are positioned for the highest and best use to serve the needs of our students, faculty and staff. Therefore, I directed the University’s Real Estate team to conduct a thorough and careful assessment of our real estate assets, including the Howard Manor. During this evaluation, studies revealed that the Howard Manor was in dire need of repair and raised concerns over the health and well-being of its occupants. Consequently, we quickly informed the occupants of our intent to conduct a full modernization of the building to meet the standards that have been set for all University facilities.

The University remains sensitive to the transition faced by the building’s occupants and is committed to being as communicative, transparent and accommodating as possible. To this end, those living in the Howard Manor – many of whom were associated with the University – were allowed to live free from making payments for more than nine months as they sought new housing options. In addition, the University chose to invest its scarce resources in the initiative by offering each occupant a substantial relocation package, which included: housing counseling, placement services, payment forgiveness, and financial incentives. We are pleased that the overwhelming majority of occupants accepted our relocation packages and improved their lives in the process. In fact, some have fulfilled their lifelong dreams of becoming homeowners.

The Washington Post article included interviews from three of the remaining occupants who are unwilling to relocate from the Howard Manor, despite being presented the opportunity to return after modernization. It is important that the building be vacated to ensure that necessary upgrades can be made, which will ultimately enhance the health and safety of future occupants. I have instructed the University’s Real Estate team to continue the constructive dialogue that has been established with the final three occupants. We remain committed to providing any additional services needed – including temporary relocation and the opportunity to return to Howard Manor once the modernization efforts have been completed.

We have already taken necessary actions to ensure an incident such as this never happens again. Those steps include appropriate training and a review of necessary disciplinary actions.

We cannot let this University asset remain in its current state, while we have so many University stakeholders in need of safe, affordable and convenient housing. As such, we intend to move forward with our modernization plans to address health and safety issues, and to improve the quality of life for future Howard Manor occupants.

I appreciate the opportunity to provide the University community with an update on this matter and will continue to keep you apprised of this and any other improvements that my team is bringing to the campus.

-Excellence in Truth and Service,
Wayne A. I. Frederick, M.D., MBA