We Want More Than Crumbs

April 30, 2012

On Wednesday April 18 at the City Council  Committee on Housing and Workforce Development Fy 13 budget oversight hearing   District residents testified  urging   City Council to notice the apparent flaws in the Mayor’s budget proposal and restore cuts that  would prevent the city from addressing the housing crisis. One testimony that stuck out was Nathan Smith, ward 8 resident and future homeowner. Dismissing the idea of government handouts,  Nathan offers insight about the work that goes into owning a home through the HPAP program. His testimony can be found below.

Testimony of: Nathan Smith, Ward 8 Resident and Future DC Homeowner

My name is Nathan Smith and I have lived in Washington for fifty years, most of the time I love it. I went to Cardozo and the School Without Walls. I’ve lived on Capitol Hill, Elvan’s Road (in Anacostia), and currently at Fairfax Village. Once (before 9-11) ours was the most open and pleasant city on the east coast. I miss that a lot.

 I’ve been a member of the Home Buyers Club for many years, learning everything I can in preparation for the day I will buy a home. Others here today either have or will speak to the ways home ownership benefits the community:

  • reduced crime,
  • increased property values,
  • better education
  • and, oddly enough, increased political participation (as we are demonstrating by our presence before you).

These are (and should be) important policy priorities, receiving the attention of, and funded by, the City.However, the continuum of affordable housing, which is vital to creating and sustaining these positive outcomes, has been stripped of resources.Promises of funding have instead become inconvenient liabilities, passed off until better times.These so called better times will never come if we do not invest in our communities today. Encouraging and assisting home ownership is a venture which will lead to substantial return. Almost every government dollar spent can be recovered by appropriately administered programs.

Training and information provided by organizations like MANNA and HPAP (the Home Purchase Assistance Program) help people become capable and responsible home owners.In ten years of existence MANNA has helped one thousand home owners realize their dream.Opening a relatively small door in the housing market and allowing a few moderate income families to purchase, where and when they otherwise could not, makes a friendlier and more diverse city. Everybody benefits.

Houses are not handed out for free. Each home buyer earns his or her opportunity to purchase, but without funds none of these programs would exist. I came to speak about self-interests, not only mine, but yours, and everyone who wants to own a home in the District of Columbia.

Put yourself in the place of a potential home buyer and ask:

What would I want?

What am I working toward?

To get out of poverty, to pay for my children’s education; these things and more would be possible with the equity accumulated in my home.

I want to live in the city where I was born and grew up.

I count it a privilege and an honor to live in a city known around the world as the seat of government for a free people.

I want to know that anyone can live here and that the City helps make it possible.

I can’t stress the importance of affordable housing programs enough.Without guidance and assistance, I and many others would not have an opportunity to purchase in the District. MANNA and HPAP provide help and incentive for those who seek them.

Don’t force these successful programs to scramble for crumbs from a shrinking financial pie.Don’t let shortsightedness threaten programs that have and will continue to benefit the city for many years to come.

Please restore funding for all programs in the continuum of affordable housing, including those encouraging home ownership. Investing in people, helping them to succeed, is certain to benefit the city immediately and in the future.

Thank you.

As we continue the stride towards filling the need for  affordable housing, we need more people, like Nathan,  to become active by telling their personal stories. City Council needs to hear our voice and know that we’re no longer going to settle for “crumbs”.

 

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