It’s time for DC Government to Restore the Commitment to Affordable Housing

January 9, 2012

All District residents deserve decent, quality housing at a price they can afford and the District government should invest in the programs that can be used to meet the current housing need. Through a commitment to providing a full Continuum of Housing, the city can end homelessness and address the affordable housing needs of tens of thousands of District residents.

Unfortunately, the lack of commitment to steady and full funding of these programs has put at risk DC’s ability to meet the needs of its residents, who face increasing housing costs and loss of existing low-cost rental housing.

This year, we call on the Mayor and City Council to restore the commitment to housing programs designed to produce and preserve affordable housing. These actions would increase the number of affordable units by 940, including 166 Housing First units matched with wrap-around services. This would impact 2,000 additional residents and would be a first step to implementing a full Continuum of Housing.

We call on Mayor Gray and the DC Council to:

Restore $18 million to the Housing Production Trust Fund for its intended purpose of housing production and preservation.

The Housing Production Trust Fund is the District’s most important tool for producing and preserving affordable housing in DC.   Affordable housing providers around the city count on the Trust Fund to help build new affordable apartments, rehabilitate existing low-cost housing, and help tenants purchase their buildings under the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act. When tenants can purchase, it increases opportunities for homeownership, preserves low-cost housing, and keeps long-time residents in their neighborhoods.

In the ten-year history of the Housing Production Trust Fund, 7,000 housing units in more than 100 locations have been completed or are under construction using dollars from the Trust Fund. It has developed and rehabilitated housing in every ward of the city.

Fully fund the Local Rent Supplement Program from the General Fund, including $6 million to address a projected shortfall in the DC Housing Authority’s Local Rent Supplement Program budget

Failing to fill this gap would jeopardize housing for 514 households.

Invest $5 million from the Community Benefits Fund for Housing First and $5 million for the Local Rent Supplement Program to serve new people.

The Local Rent Supplement Program and Housing First Fund were developed to house the tens of thousands of people on the DC Housing Authority waiting list, address the ongoing homelessness crisis in the District and support the production of permanent supportive housing. Without additional funds, these programs are not able to serve any new residents.

Maintain funding for the Home Purchase Assistance Program.  If federal funds for HPAP are cut, the city should keep the program whole with additional local funds.

The Home Purchase Assistance Program has been a key tool for increasing DC’s homeownership rate. Maintaining constant funding is crucial to helping low- and moderate-income residents move into homeownership and remain in DC. The current funding level allows 500 families to receive assistance to buy their first home.

In the District, homeownership would often be a less expensive housing option than renting but residents need additional support to move into homeownership. Homeownership maintains neighborhood stability and can also help families use equity in their homes to finance college and build their net worth.

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