Council oversight hearing on DHCD draws a patient crowd

April 25, 2013

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Tom Wilson, President of the 1919 Calvert Street Tenant Association, advocates for the Trust Fund

Yesterday, 55 residents, housing producers and others testified at the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) oversight hearing chaired by Councilmember Bowser. Some waited 4½ hours to tell their story of how the DHCD programs – Housing Production Trust Fund , Local Rent Supplement Program , and Home Purchase Assistance Program (HPAP) – impact lives and neighborhoods across DC. The diverse group represented a wide range including renters, homeowners, clergy and business leaders. Here are some of their words.

 A quality, affordable place to call home

I am a ward 1 resident and also a resident of Jubilee Housing. My building is named The Mozart which is located in Adams Morgan. I’ve been living in The Mozart now for over six years since it’s renovation. Renovations that were due largely to the Housing Production Trust Fund and the other housing programs which the city provides. And because of the Local Rental Supplement Program (known as LRSP) my rent is also affordable. That is why I appreciate the Mayor’s proposed budget plan for the fiscal year which will give 100 million dollars to these programs and I urge you and other Council members to pass the proposed budget plan.  - Brian Adams, Resident, Jubilee Housing

Tenant purchase is more than a dream - Gale Varga, Secretary of the Board, 5741 Colorado Ave. Cooperative

As of March 15th of this year, we have purchased our building with bridge loans from City First and LISC and a promised take from DHCD. It has been our dream that our building would always stay affordable housing for the residents of the District of Columbia. …I personally have been without heat for three years…our building was left in major disrepair by past owners. Having control of our building and our future feels like life has so much to offer now… Tenants should know that they could take the route we did with the same outcome. Funding should be made available so that DC would have more affordable housing available.

Homeownership changes lives

I am now a 3 year homeowner because of HPAP. Thanks to HPAP/EHAP I was given financial opportunities that other programs and financial institutions don’t offer. And most of all I would not have been able to afford to move from renting in East of the River to owning in Downtown DC.  - Samone Hoston, Ward 6 Resident

We are here to ask for you to join with Councilmember Barry to advocate for maintaining the HPAP funding levels from 2013! [It] needs $1 million dollars to be restored to keep the same level of funding! - Diane Richardson-Spaite, Head Advocacy and Organizing Officer, Manna Inc.

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Claudette Bethea testifies for Housing For All

Councilmember Bowser was supportive of our housing priorities.  She expressed her belief that no one would touch the $87 dedicated to the Housing Production Trust Fund in the Mayor’s $100 million proposed for housing. She voiced her appreciation of the program, used mostly for rehab, by saying “we need to preserve the housing we have.” She also acknowledged the value of using the Local Rent Supplement Program along with the Trust Fund to create housing that is affordable for extremely low income residents.

In addition, Councilmember Bowser committed to “scrub the budget” to find the $1 million needed to restore HPAP. She spoke out for another one of our priorities, the Housing First Program for permanent supportive housing. Housing First is not in the DHCD budget, so it wasn’t discussed much, but when it was raised by Brian Adams she was enthusiastic in her support. “We can end homelessness,” she said “it will take a sustained commitment but it is within our grasp.”

Although we couldn’t include everyone’s stories here, we congratulate all our members and partners who spoke out at yesterday’s hearing including Jubilee Housing, Manna Inc., N Street Village, LEDC, Mi Casa, Bread for the City, BB&T, Dante’s Partners, Wiencek + Associates, Klein Hornig LLP, and all the individuals. Together we sent a strong message: now is the time to fund Housing For All!