Our hopes for tomorrow's budget vote

May 14, 2012

Tomorrow, the DC Council will vote on the city budget.  Even though it’s only a day away, it’s unclear how the Council will vote on the parts of the budget that impact affordable housing. Throughout the past week there has been a lot of media coverage about the state of housing in DC: the city is losing low-cost rental housing, numbers of homeless families have increased dramatically, and housing and gentrification are a major concern in the Ward 5 election.

The affordability of housing to lower income and long-term District residents is clearly an area of major concern around the city. The Fiscal Year 2013 budget presents some opportunities to turn the tide and invest in affordable housing programs, which we hope the Council will adopt. You can send them an email saying you hope they’ll vote for housing tomorrow: click here

Let’s take a look at what we hope for tomorrow:

The Local Rent Supplement Program is in need of additional funds to meet the housing needs of DC’s lowest income residents. Councilmember Michael Brown has supported our recommendation that $6 million be added to the Local Rent Supplement Program to meet the immediate housing needs in the family shelter system, and to develop housing that will meet that need in the long term. Chairman Kwame Brown has indicated his support for the program, but has not committed to any amount. We are hopeful that the Council will use $6 million in the Fiscal Year 2013 budget to increase the capacity of LRSP to meet the housing needs of very low income residents.

The Housing Production Trust Fund, which is the key tool for developing and preserving affordable housing, still faces a $20 million loss. The Trust Fund is being used to pay for the ongoing cost of the Local Rent Supplement Program, a tactic started last year, which moves money dedicated to one housing program to pay for another. This is an unsustainable situation which jeopardizes the future of the Trust Fund.

In addition, $18 million that was cut from the Housing Production Trust Fund last year was promised funding if the city had additional funds throughout the year. Although the city has had a surplus every quarter of 2012, the city has not allocated any of it to the Trust Fund.

We are hopeful that in the Fiscal Year 2013 budget, the Council will commit to fully funding the Housing Production Trust Fund so it can fulfill its mission. In addition, we will continue to call on the Council to restore funds cut in 2012.

 The Home Purchase Assistance Program faced a loss of $5 million in this budget. Councilmember Michael Brown, chair of the Committee on Housing and Workforce Development, with the support of Councilmember Mendelson, has identified $2.5 million which has been committed to HPAP in his committee.  In addition, the remaining funds are listed on the Mayor’s recommended programs to receive funding in the future if the city sees additional revenue. We are hopeful that the Council will support the $2.5 million recommendation for HPAP in the Fiscal Year 2013 budget, and commit to restoring the program to last year’s level in future revenue. 

You can let the City Council you’re hopeful as well. Email the DC Council today!

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