On Tuesday, Mayor Gray announced the recommendations of the Comprehensive Housing Strategy Task Force in a report titled Bridges to Opportunity. For the last two years, the Housing For All Campaign has called for the District government to provide more housing that District residents can afford. We were happy to see that the first two (out of three) goals of the Housing Task Force work to do just that: build and preserve 10,000 units of affordable housing, and preserve the 8,000 units of housing made affordable by federal government subsidy.
The Task Force has set a goal of 10,000 units produced and preserved by 2020. This is a great target and it is important to have the tools to meet the goal. The report recommends using and significantly increasing existing affordable housing programs, including stabilizing the Housing Production Trust Fund. The Trust Fund is an important program that builds and preserves affordable housing which residents fought for over a decade to create. Over the last few years, it has suffered from low levels of funding. Stabilization and increased funding will be key for the Trust Fund to be used to meet this production and preservation goal.
The Trust Fund is a great tool to preserve housing that is low cost and affordable to low and moderate income residents. Using the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act, the Trust Fund allows tenants to form a cooperative or partner with an outside organization that can keep the property affordable and make needed renovations. We are glad that the Housing Task Force included the preservation of these units as part of the 10,000 unit goal in addition to preserving the 8,000 federally subsidized units. We encourage the Gray administration to continue to make the Trust Fund a useful tool to preserve the housing we have and keep low and moderate income residents in their homes.
In the Task Force research, they learned that the greatest need for affordable housing is for people who make less than 30% AMI. Programs that make rents affordable to extremely low income people will be needed in addition to Trust Fund investment. The Local Rent Supplement Program, when used with the Trust Fund, can produce housing for extremely low income residents, and should be increased along with the Trust Fund to make sure we are building housing that meets the area of greatest need. The Task Force identified the need for increasing the Local Rent Supplement Program, but like the Trust Fund recommendation, did not include a number of how many people should be served or a target funding level that should be made available.
At the State of the District Address, Mayor Gray announced $100 million for affordable housing. At the release of the Task Force he called the $100 million a good start, and we agree. The $100 million will allow the District to produce and preserve hundreds of units. A long-term commitment of the additional money to meet the goal of 10,000 units by 2020 still needs to be identified and dedicated.