How many hours do you have work to afford market rent with DC’s new minimum wage?

August 11, 2014

(hint: a lot)

On July 1, the DC minimum wage increased to $9.50 an hour. This increase will help an estimated 40,000 DC workers who will now bring home more money each week. We wondered, with DC’s increased minimum wage, how close does that get workers to affording market rent in DC. So we reached out to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, who track the relationship between wages and housing costs in states across the country.

Here’s their updated analysis for DC’s new minimum wage:

In the District of Columbia, the Fair Market Rent (FMR) for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,469. In order to afford this level of rent and utilities – without paying more than 30% of income on housing – a household must earn $4,897 monthly or $58,760 annually. Assuming a 40-hour work week, 52 weeks per year, this level of income translates into a Housing Wage of: $28.25

In the District of Columbia, a minimum wage worker earns an hourly wage of $9.50. In order to afford the FMR for a two-bedroom apartment, a minimum wage earner must work 119 hours per week, 52 weeks per year. Or a household must include 3.0 minimum wage earners working 40 hours per week year-round in order to make the two-bedroom FMR affordable.

In the District of Columbia, the estimated mean (average) wage for a renter is $25.52. In order to afford the FMR for a two-bedroom apartment at this wage, a renter must work 44 hours per week, 52 weeks per year. Or, working 40 hours per week year-round, a household must include 1.1 workers earning the mean renter wage in order to make the two-bedroom FMR affordable.

Before the minimum wage increase, NLIHC calculated that a worker would need to work 137 hours per week to afford fair market rent. Increasing the minimum wage is going a long way to improve the lives of DC’s low wage workers and close the gap between wages and housing cost. This will continue to improve as the wage increases over the next two years,  to $11.50 in 2016. However, even with these increases, the cost of housing in the open market will remain unaffordable for many minimum wage workers, even with multiple adults in the home, and working more than one job.

Housing For All Year in Review!

July 17, 2014

We had a busy year, that led to lots of wins! Here’s a refresher of all the activities we did. 

October: Housing For All Learning Circle – Facilitated discussions on what causes gentrification and urban change, identified volunteers and advocates

November 16: Ward 8 Housing Fair and Town Hall – 100+ people attended and over a dozen organizations participated in the housing fair to help address housing issues. Sponsored by CPDC, Manna, Anacostia River Realty, and Bread for the City. Councilmembers Bonds and Bowser attended, plus DHCD Director Michael Kelly. Flier. Blog.

November 20: Ward 3 Housing Town Hall – 75 people attended, cosponsored by Good Faith Communities. Councilmember Cheh attended. Speakers included Nancy Hooff, Somerset Development and Sonya Hochevar, CPDC.

December 13: Senior Housing Town Hall Cosponsored with DC Senior Advisory Coalition and DC AARP. 100 people attended as well as  Councilmember Bonds, staff from Cheh, Graham and McDuffie, plus Michael Kelly. Held at NCBA Estates.

December 10: Meeting of CNHED’s For Profit members to support Housing For All

December 20: Rally and Vigil for the Homeless – Sponsored by People For Fairness Coalition. Overnight vigil and two rallies totaling over 100 people, Mayor Gray and Councilmember Cheh, Wells, Grosso, Graham and candidate Andy Shallal visited the action. Facebook. Video.

Late December: Mayor Gray, Chairman Mendelson, and Councilmember McDuffie commit end-of-year surplus funds to Housing Production Trust Fund

January 11 & 15: Postcard Delivery to Candidates for Mayor  – after collecting 1,000 postcards in support of a Continuum of housing, 30 Housing For All supporters delivered actual and enlarged postcards to Mayoral candidates Evans, Wells, Bowser and Shallal. We also brought an enlarged postcard to Mayor Gray at his campaign kick-off event.

February 1: Housing For All NOW Rally – 500 people attended in addition to Mayor Gray, Councilmembers Graham, Bowser, Bonds, Wells, and Evans, plus Director Kelly and Director Todman. Winners from Housing For All writing Competition and resident leaders participated in program. Blog. Video. Pics.  Flier.

February and March Housing Advocacy Training – Over 50 people attended the 4-week training, in Petworth and Congress Heights. Participants also met with Bonds staff member Brittney Madison and Councilmember Grosso.

March 11: Hearing on legislation to end chronic homelessness by 2020 – presented ICH recommendations to Committee on Human Services, chaired by Councilmember Graham. CNHED members testified, presented sign-on letter from over 40 organizations. Blog post. Sign on letter.

March 25: CNHED staff meet with Mendelson – one-on-one meeting with Mendelson to raise concerns for upcoming budget.

March 26: Housing Production Trust Fund Organizational Support Letter – delivered a letter to Mayor Gray signed by 60 organizations including tenant associations, labor, nonprofits, churches, and community groups that support committing $100 million to the Housing Production Trust Fund this year, and every year.

March 27: Call in day to Mayor Gray for $100 million for the Housing Production Trust Fund

April 3: Mayor released budget with increases in Housing Production Trust Fund, Local Rent Supplement Program and Permanent Supportive Housing

April 8: Unanimous passage of legislation to end chronic homelessness by 2020. Blog.

April 30: Email action to Councilmember Bowser, Chair of Committee on Economic Development –  Emails sent to encourage Councilmember Bowser to lead in achieving $100 million for the Housing Production Trust Fund.

May 2: DHCD Budget HearingOver 30 people testified in support of the Housing For All Campaign, across the Continuum of Housing, including two panels focused on LRSP for production, a panel from the for-profit sector, and first-time testifiers from the Housing Advocacy Training.

May 3: Tenant Town Hall – Over 200 residents focused on the needs to preserve and improve the low-cost rental housing we have. Councilmember Graham attended. Facebook. Flier. Pics.

May 2 & 6: Resident Leadership Team/Campaign Coordinators meetings with Council offices of Grosso, Catania, and McDuffie. Pic.

May 9: Budget Support Act hearing – 2 panels of residents and practitioners in support of dedicating 50% of end of year surplus to the Housing Production Trust fund

May 12: Email to support affordable homeownership to Councilmember Bowser – Emails sent focusing on HPAP and East of the River Homeownership. Blog. Action.

May 15: Face to Face gallery of DC’s homeless residents  – in partnership with Fair Budget Coalition and others, photo exhibit and rally to highlight the diverse community of homeless individuals, families, and youth in DC and how affordable housing can provide housing. Post article.  DCist article.

May 19: CNHED Advocacy DayOver 100 people attended and met with all Council offices. Opening remarks provided by Chairman Mendelson and Councilmember Grosso. Resident leaders presented Housing For All asks. Pics.

May 20: Love the Fund, Fund the Fund blog post.

May 25:  All-Council meeting – emergency action to encourage Council to discuss plans to restore HPAP and increase Housing Production Trust Fund in the all-Council meeting. About 10 people attended from campaign and Manna.

May 28: Budget Vote Day – increases committed to Housing Production Trust Fund, Local Rent Supplement, Permanent Supportive Housing, and HPAP.

June 9 – 10: Walk arounds with Campaign Coordinators and Resident Leadership Team to discuss BSA

June 24: BSA Vote: No changes to housing programs.

Join Housing For All to support $100 Million for the Housing Production Trust Fund

July 9, 2014

On Monday, the DC Council will vote on legislation introduced by Councilmember Bowser that would require $100 million each year to be dedicated to the Housing Production Trust Fund. CNHED has  advocated for $100 million for the Housing Production Trust Fund, and are pleased the Council shares our concern.We are hopeful that this legislation will lead to $100 million for the Housing Production Trust Fund in next year’s budget

But we’re not there yet.

Please join us for the vote to show our Councilmembers that DC residents are passionate about affordable housing and demand that the District invest in the Housing Production Trust Fund so it can invest in our communities. Help us fill the hearing room with a sea of yellow t-shirts on Monday. If you don’t have a shirt, we’ll bring you one.

Monday, July 14, 10:00 AM
Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Ave NW

Room 500

Email Elizabeth to RSVP:

Budget Update: CNHED advocacy wins increases across the Continuum of Housing

May 29, 2014

Yesterday, the DC Council voted on the DC Budget, reflecting increases by both the Mayor and the Council to provide affordable housing to DC residents.


  • $79.3 million total commitment for the Housing Production Trust Fund
  • $3 million increase to the Local Rent Supplement Program for the production of affordable rental housing
  • $4 million increase to the Local Rent Supplement Program in tenant-based vouchers
  • $7 million increase to Permanent Supportive Housing to support chronically homeless vets and families
  • $1 million restoration to the Home Purchase Assistance Program, with an increase in maximum loan amount from $40,000 to $50,000.
  • $300 thousand for the East End Homeownership Campaign
  • $1 million for a pilot program to fund a DC Low Income Housing Tax Credit

Additional funds were committed to fund a stronger homeless services system including coordinated entry system for individuals, increases to Rapid Rehousing, and many of the program improvements included in the Roadmap to Help Families Home.

A tremendous victory for CNHED’s housing advocacy is the fact that the Mayor’s budget started with a baseline increase of $30 million in one-time funding for the Housing Production Trust Fund. One of the biggest surprises that occurred yesterday was an increase of $8.7 million for the Housing Production Trust Fund identified by Chairman Mendelson and passed by the DC Council.  These funds were unspent capital dollars in the Department of Behavioral Health budget which would have been lost if they had not been moved to the Trust Fund. They are still dedicated to be used for the production of housing for people with serious mental or emotional illness. With this increase, the Housing Production Trust Fund will have a total of  $79.3 million next year.

Unfortunately, none of the Councilmembers chose to recognize the importance of the Trust Fund in the vote discussions yesterday, or acknowledge that the Trust Fund is still short of the $100 million goal many of them have advocated for. [See this post for references to Councilmember support for that $100 million.]We will continue to call on the Council to join with us and increase the total Housing Production Trust Fund commitment to $100 million this year and in future years.

Housing Production Trust Fund invests in our communities

May 22, 2014

The Housing Production Trust Fund is the back bone of affordable housing in DC. Last year, DC invested in the Trust Fund so it could invest in our communities. What happened? The District built, preserved, or rehabbed homes for 1,260 families and individuals. Here’s a snapshot of where the Trust Fund will be invested in our communities:

The 19 Housing Developments with Trust Fund Commitments:

    • 1,260 homes
    • 321 Special Needs homes; of those, 123 are Permanent Supportive Housing
    • 27% benefit residents at 30% or below AMI; 37% benefit residents at 50% or below AMI; 83% benefit residents at 60% or below AMI
    • Combined TDC = $344.38 M
    • Total HPTF commitment = $93.44 M
    • HPTF leverages other funding by a factor of 2.7


The Council is still considering how much to invest in the Housing Production Trust Fund as part of this year’s budget. It is a crucial moment for them to work to reach the $100 million level that eight members of the Council have supported this winter through attending rallies and introducing legislation.

Below you can check out profiles of housing developments that have benefited from the Trust Fund.


Love the Fund? Fund the Fund.

May 20, 2014

Councilmembers, you say you support $100 million for the Housing Production Trust Fund, will you now fund it?

This winter, members of the DC Council expressed their support for $100 million for the Housing Production Trust Fund in public forums across the District.

Councilmembers Bonds, Bowser, Evans, Graham, and Wells stood in support of CNHED’s housing priorities at the Housing For All NOW Rally on February 1, 2014. The event stressed the importance of $100 million for the Housing Production Trust Fund.

At CNHED’s Ward 8 Housing Town Hall when asked directly if they supported $100 million for the Housing Production Trust Fund, Councilmembers Bonds and Bowser stated an unqualified “Yes!”

Legislation was even introduced:

“The HPTF [Housing Production Trust Fund] should be funded annually at a minimum of $100 million so the Department of Housing and Community Development may increase and expand its efforts to create and preserve affordable housing across the District” – Written by Bowser, co-introduced by Graham, Cheh, Orange, Bonds[1]

“Develop a ten-year $1,000,000,000 affordable housing plan that provides for $100,000,000 per annum to increase, build, and modernize affordable housing in the District of Columbia” – Written by Orange, co-introduced by Bonds, Barry, Graham and sponsored by Bowser, Cheh, and Wells.[2]  

And yet, no member of the Council has committed any additional funds to invest in the Housing Production Trust Fund, and it is still $29.4 million short of your stated goal.

Now is the time for the Council to make good on your commitment to the Housing Production Trust Fund. The budget proposed by Mayor Gray is $29.4 million short of $100 million.  The Council must act for the Housing Production Trust Fund to receive the funding it needs in Fiscal Year 2015.

[1] Bill 20-708, the Housing Production Trust Fund Baseline Funding Act of 2014

[2] Bill 20-713, the District of Columbia Affordable Housing Act of 2014

To address homelessness, we need affordable housing

May 14, 2014

Adapted from the testimony of Bob Pohlman, Executive Director of CNHED to the Committee of the Whole hearing on the Budget Support Act. 

For the third year in a row, budget discussions have focused on homeless families living at DC General and in hotels. Much attention has focused on how to take families out of homelessness, but very little time is spent discussing why they are there in the first place and what we can do to prevent homelessness.  The simple fact is the District has a severe shortage of affordable housing and the problem is only going to get worse. As the city’s population grows by more than a thousand residents each month, we continue to lose affordable rental housing.  The DC Fiscal Policy Institute reports that the District has lost half of its low-cost rental units over the last decade. As this continues, it is becoming increasingly difficult for low income residents – even with federal and local rent subsidy vouchers – to find apartments in many neighborhoods of the city.

This is why the Coalition for Nonprofit Housing and Economic Development believes we must commit to building additional affordable housing stock and preserving the affordable housing we already have.  The Comprehensive Housing Strategy Task Force took that same position calling for the production of 10,000 new units by 2020 and the preservation of 8,000 existing affordable units.  The Interagency Council on Homelessness has adopted a production schedule that would provide sufficient permanent supportive housing, financed by the Trust Fund along with the sponsor-based Local Rent Supplement Program, to eliminate chronic homelessness for individuals and families by 2020. If we instead continue to focus our attention only on the “crisis” of homelessness and fail to increase the stock of affordable housing, we continue to fail these families and individuals, providing them with only an overcrowded shelter system, and no real strategies to prevent homelessness or provide permanent affordable housing.

To turn this tide, CNHED strongly supports the goal of investing $100 million annually in the Housing Production Trust Fund.  The FY 2015 proposed budget directs $40 million of dedicated deed tax to the Trust Fund.  The FY 2014 Supplemental budget adds another $30.2 million.  We urge the Council to approve both of these budgets and seek to find $29.4 million of one-time funding to fill the gap.  We are pleased that the Budget Support Act would commit 50 percent of future year-end unrestricted surpluses to the Trust Fund once required reserves have been achieved.  But we do not expect this to begin in the next year.  In the meantime, we cannot afford to lose the momentum we have achieved in housing production.  I have attached to my testimony a chart of projects that show how Trust Fund dollars are being put to good use.  Out of 1,260 homes financed by the Trust Fund in 2013,  321 were for households with special needs and 123 of those were for permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless individuals and families. The Trust Fund produces rental housing that will remain affordable for at least forty years and not be affected by rising rents in the District.

The District needs to commit to the production and preservation of a Continuum of Housing affordable to all.  This should include investing $2 million more in sponsor-based Local Rent Supplement to provide operating support to newly produced units of permanent supportive housing.  We also need to support homeownership, which is the best way to protect low and moderate income residents from being displaced as housing prices top pre-recession levels.

Amazing before and after pics will make you wonder why DC isn’t fully funding the HPTF

May 14, 2014

The Housing Production Trust Fund can do lots of awesome things for our city, including turning dilapidated buildings into vibrant community spaces. Michael Wiencek, president of Wiencek + Associates Architects + Planners came to show the DC Council some examples of work his firm has done to renovate homes in Washington, DC and call for $100 million a year commitment to the Housing Production Trust Fund. Many of the renovations they have worked on would not have been possible without the Trust Fund. Check out these stunning before and after pictures. 

Why DC should invest in HPAP

May 1, 2014

What is the Home Purchase Assistance Program?homeownership

HPAP is the Districtʼs homegrown downpayment and closing cost assistance program which provides up to $44,000 for first-time, low- and moderate income home buyers ($40,000 downpayment assistance plus $4,000 closing cost assistance). Downpayment assistance is critical for low and moderate income DC residents as saving enough for a downpayment, especially in DC’s expensive housing market, is one of the largest impediments to becoming a homeowner. In addition to the financial assistance, HPAP recipients also receive intensive financial and home buyers’ education. HPAP acts as a second mortgage, which is repaid. HPAP has helped more than 13,000 DC residents move from renting into homeownership, and currently generates $2 million in repayment every year. Even through the housing crisis, HPAP recipients have only a 2% foreclosure rate.

 Why support Homeownership East of the Anacostia River?

 The homeownership rates in Ward 7 and 8 are currently the lowest in the District. As commercial and residential development progresses along the Anacostia River, District residents living East of the River have an amazing opportunity to purchase before prices become too great. Purchasing a home now will enable current residents to remain in Wards 7 & 8, benefit from the coming development, and secure an affordable home and equity to pass along to future generations. The $300,000 proposed by Mayor Gray would support homeownership resource centers East of the River to direct people to available education, downpayment, realtors and lending resources, provide residents with a homeownership inventory database, and other services. A coalition of for-profit and nonprofit service providers are prepared to participate in this effort.

 Why should HPAP provide larger loan amounts?

 Before the Great Recession, the maximum HPAP loan amount was $70,000. That amount was lowered to $40,000 at a time of extreme budget cuts.  Now that the market has rebounded, first time homebuyers need more buying power to purchase homes that will pass safety inspections.  The number of homes available and affordable to potential HPAP buyers is much smaller than the number of buyers – who are often in competition with each other for scarce units. And additional $10,000 of assistance would allow buyers to afford a house that costs 20% more.

This year, we call on the DC Council to:

  • Commit $4 million to the Home Purchase Assistance Program (HPAP) to fund an increased loan amount that better reflects the DC housing market
  • Change the maximum allowable HPAP loan amount to $54,000 per applicant in the Budget Support Act
  • Support the $300 K commitment in Mayor Gray’s budget to support new homeowners East of the River

What CNHED’s Housing For All Campaign wants in this year’s budget

April 16, 2014

Every year we work with you to make sure DC passes a budget that addresses the housing needs of District residents. We count on you to help us tell the story of why it is so important to make these housing investments. Here are our recommendations for the FY15 budget.796

Commit at least $100 million each year for the Housing Production Trust Fund by increasing the amount of ongoing and one-time funding in the FY15 budget to reach $100 million this year, and committing future end of year surplus funds to the Trust Fund. The Trust Fund budget proposed by the Mayor is currently $29.1 million short of $100 million.

  • The Housing Production Trust Fund is the backbone of housing preservation and development in DC. It is crucial to keeping and expanding the affordable housing needed for DC families and individuals. The Trust Fund plays a key role in:
    • The preservation of existing affordable housing
    • Building new affordable housing to rent or purchase
    • Reaching the ICH’s production goals to end chronic homelessness by 2020
    • Allowing tenants to purchase their buildings and preserve it as affordable
  • Throughout the last few months, many councilmembers have introduced legislation or spoken out in support of $100 million for the Trust Fund.
  • It is crucial that funding remain available for Tenant Purchase opportunities year round.  DHCD should reserve $20 million within a fully funded $100 million Trust Fund to allow that program to work for hundreds of low income residents.
  • We support the Budget Support Act language committing one half of all unrestricted surplus dollars to the Housing Production Trust Fund once savings obligations are met.


Fund the ICH plan to end chronic homelessness by 2020. This requires an increase of $1.2 million for services and at least $1.8 million for leasing in the Department of Human Services budget.

  • The Interagency Council on Homelessness (ICH) plan lays out a roadmap to end chronic homelessness by 2020, requiring increased funding each year.  This year, the budget is still short reaching that goal.
  • The DC Council unanimously passed a resolution calling for the end of chronic homelessness by 2020, following the ICH plan.


Commit $4 million to the Home Purchase Assistance Program (HPAP) to to help District residents transition from renting to homeownership. The HPAP program saw a $1.5 million cut in Mayor Gray’s budget, even with increased demand this year. DSC02414

  • The BSA should reflect an increase in the maximum allowable HPAP loan amount to $50,000 per applicant. The HPAP loan amounts were cut during the recession in conjunction with HPAP program cuts. Lower loan amounts severely limit the number of homes that are HPAP eligible in a rapidly rising housing market.
  • We support the $300,000 commitment made in Mayor Gray’s budget to support new homeowners East of the River. This additional outreach should increase the pool of potential HPAP recipients, which would in turn require increased funding for HPAP.


Commit $2 million to the Local Rent Supplement Program to increase the production of housing for residents with extremely low incomes and for permanent supportive housing.  LRSP is crucial to the production of rental housing for extremely low income families in the District. It is also a key component in the plan to end chronic homelessness by 2020. An increase of $2 million would allow for the production of permanent supportive housing and other housing for extremely low income residents.

  • We also support increasing LRSP to provide additional tenant-based vouchers but do not have a budget recommendation at this time.

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