May 22, 2013
After a year of strong advocacy by CNHED and Housing For All members, the DC Council voted today to dedicate millions of dollars in additional funding for affordable housing programs in the District’s FY 2014 budget. Read more.
May 21, 2013
At the 6th Annual Tenant Town Hall on Saturday, May 18, 2013, approximately 250 residents – along with many public officials and representatives of multiple community development organizations-assembled to learn from, educate and energize one another! Sponsored by the Latino Economic Development Center and CNHED’s Housing for All Campaign we gathered to make sure that DC maintains and produces housing that is affordable for people with low incomes and ensure good, healthy building conditions. See more photos of the event on Flickr.
We started with a review of Tenant Town Hall victories over the last six years, including tenant’s right to due landlords in Superior Court over bad conditions; proactive housing code inspections; and major funding increases for affordable housing for the 2014 budget. Many thanked Mayor Gray for his commitment.
- Support funding for Tenant Purchase: Tracy Trang La talked about the need for building purchase loans the Housing Production Trust Fund
- First-time time homebuyers: Marilyn Phillips is a soon-to-be homeowner in a rehabilitated building in Ward 8 with the help of the Home Purchase Assistance Program
- Support Rental Assistance: Judea Lawton made a strong case for helping make rent affordable through the local and federal voucher programs
- Don’t paint over Mold! Bruno Avila shared his experiences with poor building conditions and urges the development of a program to eliminate mold, asbestos and lead.
DC Councilmembers & Agencies RESPOND
All responded very positively regarding the budget priorities, pledging their support to fight for funding and program improvements.
Councilmember Jim Grahm received great applause, saying “We’re committed to the whole range of affordable housing… and we have too much cash to have homelessness.”
Michael Kelly, Director of the Department of Housing and Community Development, was overflowing with enthusiasm in his support for the Trust Fund and HPAP – and advocated for more rent supplement vouchers to go along with building/preserving affordable housing
Talking about the effects of sequestration, Adrienne Todman, Executive Director DC Housing Authority, asked “We can reduce wait lines at airports but we can’t help homeless people?” Dir. Todman vowed to fight for additional funding for rent supplement voucher and house hundreds more DC residents.
Johanna Shreve, Chief Tenant Advocate of the District Office of the Tenant Advocate, received a warm welcome and urged tenants to contact her office about problems.
The Town Hall kicked off a new Safe and Healthy Housing Campaign to eliminate of mold, asbestos and lead from multifamily apartment buildings. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) Manager of Housing and Proactive Inspections Gill Davidson offered that DCRA wants to work with its sister agencies and tenants to address how to tackle mold issues affecting tenants. July 1st will be the first meeting of the Campaign.
Thanks especially to our wonderful MCs for the day:
- Silvia Salazar of the Norwood Coop, who gave the encouragement: Keep up the good work, let’s keep moving forward – you have the right to live in decent, affordable housing!
- Juanita McKenzie of Petworth Station who coined our mantra for the day – DC Tenants You Rock!
May 20, 2013
Please act to end homelessness for DC’s chronically homeless!
Over the last few months and weeks, various organizations and coalitions have called on the DC Council to make additional investments in the Housing First Permanent Supportive Housing Program in DHS. This program has a 90% success rate in leading to stable housing for chronically homeless individuals and families.
Investing in the Permanent Supportive Housing Program in the FY14 budget would complement the other housing programs already in the FY14 budget – and create a budget that meets the immediate and long-term housing needs of DC residents
The Council has been outspoken in their support for addressing homelessness and in particular chronic homelessness. The DC community agrees with this goal.
- The ICH Permanent Supportive Housing Production Committee recommended a proposal to end chronic homelessness in 7 years, recognizing the need for funding this year.
- CNHED: nearly 100 people attended CNHED’s Advocacy Day on Monday, May 13 and 450 people sent emails which included Housing First as a key unfunded program in the DC budget.
- WIN: 1,000 people sent emails on May 1 and 50 people met at the Wilson Building to phonebank supporters on May 14, highlighting Housing First as a key unfunded program in the DC budget.
- Miriam’s Kitchen: guests and volunteers made calls and sent emails all week May 13-18. In March, over 100 people came out in support of Housing First and Miriam’s delivered approximately 200 postcards from supporters of Housing First to Chairman Mendelson.
- SOME: circulated a petition late April, highlighting DHS PHS (Housing First) as a key unfunded program. 450 District residents signed on in support of this and other stated priorities.
- Fair Budget Coalition and SHARC: also mobilized people to come the Wilson Building on May 15 and 16 to highlight key programs, including Housing First.
We hope you will include additional funding for Housing First Permanent Supportive Housing Program in the FY14 budget.
May 16, 2013
Today’s blog is the second in a series of stories previewing this Saturday’s 6th Annual Citywide Tenant Town Hall with our partners at LEDC. The town hall will be held from 1-4 pm at the All Souls Unitarian Church. RSVP on our Facebook event page.
At the annual Tenant Town Hall on Saturday, hundreds of DC renters will highlight issues that are important to them.
So how will the Council budget vote next Wednesday affect the fight for affordable housing? There are three key programs which can make housing affordable for District residents.
The Housing Production Trust Fund is a crucial program to build and preserve affordable housing. Dozens of tenant associations have used the Trust Fund to purchase their buildings or partner with a developer that will keep their homes affordable. Since 2000, more than 1500 units of affordable housing have been preserved using the Trust Fund.
Unfortunately, the Trust Fund has seen cuts over the last few years, and money has not been available to build new apartments or help tenants purchase. Now, the DC Council can follow Mayor Gray’s recommendation in his $100 million proposal for affordable housing and restore $20 million to the Trust Fund where it belongs.
“The tenants at the Concord Apartments, as is with other residents in the District, are in need and would appreciate Tax Credit Funding and potentially funds from the Housing Production Trust Fund to ensure our homes stay as affordable housing,” says Leon Wells, president of the Concord Apartments Tenant Association, which is interested in buying their building.
Another program that makes housing affordable for very low income people is the Local Rent Supplement Program. Currently, there are 70,000 households waiting for housing with the DC Housing Authority. The Local Rent Supplement Program can provide rental vouchers that the DC Housing Authority gives to qualified families, making their rent affordable. The DC Council should invest at least $2 million to provide housing now for DC tenants who cannot afford the cost of rent.
“I had to sacrifice full-time employment to take care of my daughter with special needs, and would not be able to afford these market-rate rents of upwards of $1200 a month,” said DC resident Denise Speed. “There are so many women in my community who are in the same position I am—working, and contributing to society, but not making enough money to pay market rent.”
And finally, many District renters want to become homeowners one day. The Home Purchase Assistance Program (HPAP) is a great way to help tenants become homeowners. Organizations that work with the HPAP program support renters in learning how to prepare for homeownership, while the program offers a zero-interest loan to help with downpayment and closing costs. Through education and counseling, HPAP is helping clients and their families become smart, stable homeowners.The DC Council should maintain funding for the HPAP program.
“The stability that homeownership brings you is unparalleled. By being a homeowner you not only begin to invest in your own future, but you also have a larger incentive to be involved in the community and care even more about your neighborhood and the city you live in,” said Juliana Pena, a first-time homebuyer who used the HPAP program to buy her new home.
On Saturday, tenants have a chance to come together and say in a unified voice – we need funding for the programs that make rent affordable, that make tenant purchase a reality, and make homeownership possible!
May 15, 2013
DC’s Tenant Town Hall is a unique opportunity for DC’s renters to talk directly with their government to address the issues that make housing unsafe or unaffordable to them. This year’s Tenant Town Hall will be no different. The annual event draws over 250 residents as well as elected and appointed officials who respond to tenant concerns.
This year the Town Hall is being hosted by two fierce fighters for tenant rights – Silvia Salazar of the Norwood Coop and Juanita McKenzie of Petworth Station. Both women are leaders in their buildings and both have worked with their neighbors for years to win improvements in the conditions of their apartment buildings. In addition, the Norwood tenant association was able to purchase their building to keep it affordable in fast-paced Logan Circle. After years of fighting with management about the broken elevator, bedbugs, and rodents, the tenants purchased the building using the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act and with financial support from DC government.
The Tenant Town Hall will focus on both of these issues: how to make sure that DC maintains and produces housing that is affordable for people with low incomes, and that the conditions of these buildings are good. Agencies such as the Department of Housing and Community Development and the DC Housing Authority will be available from 1:00 – 2:00 to address tenants concerns individually, and the directors of agencies as well as DC Councilmembers will address resident concerns in the program starting at 2:00.
May 15, 2013
Bob Pohlman testified today on housing affordability at the HUD National Capitol Area office’s Congressional Briefing with DC metro area Senate and Congressional staff.
May 13, 2013
This article co-written with Miriam’s Kitchen advocacy staff members Kurt Runge and Jean Badalamenti
The chronically homeless are all around us, and many are dying on the street. All of us have seen these men and women, outside day and night, in bone-chilling cold, in snow, rain, and in the sweltering DC summer heat. For these individuals and families, a home could be life-saving. According to DC’s most recent Point in Time Survey of the homeless, there are 1,764 chronically homeless individuals living in DC. This week, Councilmembers committed to the task of helping them get permanent, safe housing.
On May 7th, Councilmembers Mary Cheh and Jim Graham introduced legislation that would make significant progress in ending chronic homelessness in DC. They identified the Marketplace Fairness Act (now making its way through Congress) as a long term funding source. DC is expected to get nearly $50 million in online sales tax revenue if implemented. The Councilmembers also committed to acting now, dedicating local funds in this year’s budget. Advocates believe with a $4.3 million investment this year, DC will be taking the first step to end chronic homelessness by 2020.
The chronically homeless make up a small percentage of the overall homeless population in our city. They are people who have been homeless repeatedly or for a long period of time, often as the result of serious mental illness, substance abuse or a chronic medical condition. Half of the long-term homeless population is over the age of 47, and the life expectancy of these individuals is 62 years, ten years less than the general population. These people cannot afford to wait any longer for housing.
The District’s Interagency Council on Homelessness has created a Permanent Supportive Housing Production Committee to recommend a production schedule and monitor development of this type of housing. The committee set a goal of ending chronic homelessness by 2020. In the near term, they recommend increasing funding to the Department of Human Services PSH program by $4.3 million for the fiscal year 2014.
Investing $4.3 million this year will end homelessness for 187 households, allowing participants to stabilize their lives and saving the District to money on emergency services like costly hospital stays, jail stays, emergency room visits, and inpatient mental health services. The tools are in place: the research has been done to assess the need; the Mayor’s $100 million will support production of units available in future years; and service providers are familiar with and prepared to expand the Housing First program (a proven method of administering permanent supportive housing).
Ending chronic homelessness in DC is not only possible; it is within reach. With the support of the DC Council and immediate and long term funding of the permanent supportive housing program, men and women who have struggled on the streets can live out the rest of their lives with dignity, at home.
May 7, 2013
Urge DC Council to pass a budget that makes housing affordable for District residents and their diverse housing needs. Our goal is 1,000 emails sent this week!
Send an email to all Councilmembers with one click.
April 30, 2013
On Wednesday’s hearing at the Department of Housing and Community Development, nonprofits and residents were joined by members of the business community. They told their stories of how the Housing Production Trust Fund is good for business and good for people. It creates jobs, improves neighborhoods, and creates homes. Here are their words:
Chris Hornig, Managing Partner, Klein Hornig LLP
Klein Hornig is one of the nation’s pre-eminent law firms focusing exclusively on affordable housing. I should also mention that I have lived in Mount Pleasant for the past 32 years. Every day I walk or ride my bicycle past the St. Denis and am grateful that the Housing Production Trust Fund helped preserve that important community asset. I hope you will support Mayor Gray’s proposal to provide $87 million in additional funding to the Trust Fund. In the last ten years, Klein Hornig has been involved with at least seventeen housing transactions that were assisted by the Trust Fund. Those transactions produced almost 2000 housing units affordable to low-income families, and created thousands of jobs.
Michael Weincek, President, Weincek + Associates Architects + Planners
I firmly believe that design truly has the power to change lives for the better, and the HPTF makes this possible. There is a difference between providing shelter and providing a home, and understanding that difference impacts whether or not we develop and create vibrant, sustainable communities or unstable, unsafe and unsustainable living environments. When we create places that are welcoming and inviting with thoughtful design, we create places that people are truly proud to call home. Providing the funding necessary to restore the Housing Production Trust Fund allows for projects like the Overlook to become not just habitable buildings, but, rather, true living communities.
Craig Pascal, Senior Vice President, Community Development Specialist, BB&T
I view investments in affordable housing as investments in economic development and our people. … If the public sector investments did not occur, I can guarantee you that many of the private sector investments we see today would not exist. As a banker, I can say that this additional public sector investment will be matched with private sector debt and equity from tax credit investors leveraging these dollars by up to hundreds of millions of dollars to maximize their benefits to the District, local communities and our residents.
Buwa Binitie, Managing Principal, Dantes Partners
I am here today to work with you and your colleagues to ensure the resources are in place to stem the tide of market rate units vis-à-vis the workforce & affordable units. The resources – once approved – will help create and preserve 1,500 to 2,000 units. These same funds can be used to leverage approximately $300 [million] of private capital – be it tax credits or loan proceeds.
April 25, 2013
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.
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!