Swampoodle Grants

Posted on February 16th, 2019 by Elizabeth Nelson

Residential property owners in the four squares 752, 753, 777 and 778 bounded by Second to Fourth Streets, and F to H Streets, NE in Washington DC are invited to apply to the Capitol Hill Restoration Society (CHRS) for home improvement grants. These grants are for the purpose of preserving the historic features of the neighborhood and, wherever possible, correcting historically inaccurate alterations to building exteriors.

Grants will be a dollar-for-dollar match up to a maximum grant of $5,000. There are two grant programs.

Area covered by Swampdoodle Grants

Area covered by Swampdoodle Grants

  • The first is available, to property owners, for work that preserves and restores original exterior architectural features.
  • The second may include upgrades aimed at increasing energy efficiency.

Who May Apply:

Within the target areas: individual homeowners, and owners of occupied rental dwellings, who need not be the occupants.

Owners of unoccupied properties are not eligible.

What is Funded:

The grant may be used for repair, restoration or replacement of exterior features, such as walls and siding, windows, doors, cornices, porches, front steps, and stoops. While any exterior work may be proposed, grants are limited to work that

  • is visible from public streets, and
  • retains or restores original historic features and materials.

Grants may include energy efficiency and lighting improvements, as indicated in the third and fourth sample projects below.

Guidelines for historic restoration in our area can be found at the following websites:

chrs.org/history-and-preservation/chrs-historic-district-guidelines
planning.dc.gov/page/design-guidelines 

PLEASE NOTE: The proposed work must be approved in writing, by CHRS, as conforming with the above historic guidelines in order to receive payment.  Conformance will be evaluated during proposal review and again after completion of the work.  If you or your contractor are uncertain about whether or not your project conforms, please direct your questions to CHRS: caphrs@aol.com. The Grants Committee will be happy to provide guidance. The Grants Committee, will evaluate other aspects of eligibility as well.  Please do not begin construction until you have a signed letter of approval from CHRS. If construction begins prior to receipt of such approval, funding will NOT be approved.

Examples of eligible projects:

  • Reversal of inappropriate alterations, including replacement of non-original windows and doors with historically appropriate elements.
  • Façade repairs, including brick re-pointing using mortar that conforms with the original mortar; removal of paint from the façade of structures with face brick; repair/replacement of traditional cast iron stoops, ensuring that the original work is preserved or, if necessary, copied; and repair/replacement of traditional iron fencing or retaining walls, ensuring that the original work is preserved or, if necessary, copied.
  • Residents may additionally apply for energy efficiency grants which may include adding insulation, energy efficient exterior windows, energy-efficient heating and air conditioning systems, and solar panels provided they are not visible from the street.
  • Residents  who want to improve their residences with LED lighting are also eligible for an additional “micro-grant” of up to $1000 with no matching requirement under a simplified selection process.

What is Not Funded:

  • Improvements and alterations to building interiors (with the exception of energy efficiency grants)
  • Routine maintenance
  • If improvements are under contract prior to written grant approval, owners proceed at their own risk. If improvements are begun prior to written grant approval, funding will NOT be provided.

Examples of projects not funded through the grant program:

  • Replacement of original architectural materials unless repair is not feasible
  • Exterior painting or other routine maintenance
  • Landscaping
  • Patios in public space
  • Improvements to accessory buildings

How to Apply:

Applicants will submit their applications on a Swampoodle Grant Application Form   provided by CHRS including:

  • Detailed description of work to be performed, to include materials that will be used and how the contractor will ensure that the work conforms with the original appearance of the house.
  • In cases where the original design elements have been removed or obliterated, photographs of similar houses on the applicant’s block should be used to guide the work.  These should be submitted with the application.
  • Photographs of existing conditions that would be improved by the proposed work.
  • Cost estimate for a fixed-price contract from a licensed contractor, clearly indicating how the contractor will ensure historical accuracy.  If uncertain, contractor should consult the above-referenced guidelines.

Applications should be sent to CHRS, P.O. Box 15264 Washington, DC 20003-0264 or emailed (with all attachments) to CHRS, caphrs@aol.com. The application form used must be the version available on this website at the time of submission.

How Grants are Awarded/Funds Disbursed:

Proposals deemed acceptable by the Grants Committee will be forwarded to the CHRS Board for approval.

CHRS will notify the Property Owner that his/her application is approved or not approved (and, if not, why not).

A fixed-price contract between the property owner and a licensed contractor is required for payment.

Grant funds will be provided to the homeowner (not the contractor) after a CHRS visit to confirm satisfactory completion of the work and only with written approval prior to beginning consturction.

Photographs of the improvements funded by the grant from several perspectives are required upon completion of the work and prior to disbursement of the grant.

For further information or for a Grant Application Form, please contact Patrick Lally at Patrick_j_lally@yahoo.com.

CHRS