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Karen Serfis

Certified Housing Counselor and Program Manager

Latino Economic Development Center

VA Office: 2300 9th Street South, Suite 300 B, Arlington, VA 22204

703-527-3854 direct | 202-588-5102

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The Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC) equips Latinos and other underserved Greater D.C. and Baltimore area residents with the skills and financial tools to create a better future for their families and communities. Participants in our programs learn how to build their long-term financial security by buying and staying in their homes, taking control of decisions affecting their apartment buildings, and starting or expanding their small businesses. The entire DC-MD-VA region is stronger when all families have the power to achieve financial independence and join with their neighbors to improve their communities

OUR HOUSING WORK includes two programs:

  1. Homeownership Program
    1. Buying your home
    2. Save your home from foreclosure
  2. Affordable Housing Preservation Program
  1. This program involves two main components: 1) improving housing conditions (by fighting landlords or purchasing buildings) and 2) housing policy change. To help tenants purchase buildings we leverage the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) and DC’s Housing Production Trust Fund. LEDC leads tenant organizing in the District, and we have been behind some major housing policy changes, particularly the creation of a housing conditions court where tenants can sue their landlords. This only exists in three cities in the country (NYC, LA, and DC). The innovative work we are doing with tenant organizing are the tenant strikes. LEDC set up a separate LLC – Tenant Power – through which we hold tenants’ rent checks in escrow until they are court ordered to pay the landlord, after the landlord has met their demands.

SMALL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT has two sides to its house as well:

  • Small Business Development services
  • Our long-standing small business technical assistance work is carried out by our small business coaches and trainers. Among other things, the Small Business Development program helps aspiring and existing entrepreneurs:
    • Build a webpage, obtain licenses and permits, strengthen their use of technology, and more through our skills workshops.
    • Develop business planning, marketing, licensing, recordkeeping, and sales strategies.
    • Excel in the child care, construction, cleaning, and food and hospitality industries.Our newly acquired (Fall 2017) entrepreneurship program for women, Empowered Women International (EWI) helps give voice and create entrepreneurial opportunities for immigrant, refugee, and other marginalized women. We empower women in the Greater DC Metro area facing economic and social challenges, to become economically mobile, financially stable and socially engaged. EWI has three main components:
    • Entrepreneur Training for Success (ETS) – a 3-month, 60-hour course on creating and managing a business and workforce readiness skills and knowledge.
    • Grow My Business (GMB) – A five-month program designed for women who have initiated their business startups, either through ETS or on their own.
    • Entrepreneur Support Services (ESS) – Year-round personalized assistance, referrals for business and social service support, and workshops that supplement ETS and GMB.
  • Micro-lending Program
    • LEDC is a certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) providing alternative financing to help build and grow local businesses in the Washington region.
    • Our small business lending officers provide entrepreneurs with access to capital to start or strengthen their businesses. LEDC provides loans ranging from $500-$250k
    • LEDC just became certified as a Community Advantage lender through the U.S. Small Business Administration. This certification has now allowed us to make up to 250K loans to businesses.