On February 5, 2013, Mayor Vincent C. Gray announced the dedication of $100 million for affordable housing and a goal of creating and preserving 10,000 units. How should Mayor Gray spend that money?
- Invest it in the Housing Production Trust Fund. The Trust fund has regulations that make sure it goes to the types of housing we need: rental and ownership housing that serve low and moderate income residents.
- Create more housing for people who are extremely low income. The District has over 7,000 people who are homeless, and an additional 30,000 very low income renter households with a severe housing burden. DC government has been working to develop tools to build more housing for these residents. This year the District will use a Consolidated Request for Proposals – making it easier for organizations who work with various government agencies to access all the funds they need to provide housing and services for those with greatest need. In addition, the Interagency Council on Homelessness has identified the need for more housing stock for the chronically homeless. Additional funds will be necessary for these purposes.
- Preserve the low cost housing we have. DC lost half our low cost rental housing stock between 2000-2010. We need to act quickly to make sure that we are keeping the affordable housing we have. The Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act allows tenants to be involved in preserving their housing as affordable through the creation of a limited-equity co-op, affordable condos, or partnering to keep the housing as affordable rental. None of this is possible, however, without District funds.
- Build workforce housing. Many people with public service jobs and moderate incomes like teachers and firefighters still cannot find housing that is affordable. DC should produce more housing for this group, especially opportunities to become homeowners.
- Match these funds with additional program funds in the FY2014 budget. The Trust Fund is a flexible tool, but it cannot create all the housing types we need alone. The Local Rent Supplement Program is needed to operate housing affordable to the lowest income District residents. Similarly, it is only with the help of the Home Purchase Assistance Program that many residents can actually purchase a home, even one produced at a lower cost. Funding these programs on an ongoing basis from the Fiscal Year 2014 budget will allow this investment to go even farther.
In addition to the $100 million for production and preservation, we need that solutions that help families and individuals immediately. This includes funding used for short-term and permanent housing assistance for residents.