Posts by Elizabeth Falcon
|Elizabeth Falcon is the campaign organizer for the Coalition for Nonprofit Housing and Economic Development (CNHED), an association of affordable housing developers, community organizations, government agencies and more in DC. She writes about how policies affect affordable housing at the Housing For All blog.|
Over the last two years the issue of affordable housing has been raised in many forums, but with little action. Mayor Gray recently committed $100 million for affordable housing; now, the Comprehensive Housing Strategy Task Force has issued its report on the District's housing direction.
The first two of the report's three goals focus on affordable housing. They call on the District to build and preserve 10,000 units of affordable housing and preserve the 8,000 units of housing made affordable by federal government subsidy.
In addition, the report offers many regulatory reforms and process improvements to support the construction and preservation of housing, and includes an emphasis on affordable housing near streetcars and transit hubs.
The core goal of the Task Force is to produce and preserve of 10,000 units by 2020. A target like this needs 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.
In the Task Force research, they learned that the greatest need for affordable housing is for people who make less than 30% of Area Median Income (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. DC should increase it 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 report he called the $100 million a good start, and it is. The $100 million will allow the District to produce and preserve hundreds of units. But DC still has to make a long-term commitment for additional money to meet the goal of 10,000 units by 2020.
Over 300 people rallied for affordable housing this weekend with the Housing for All Campaign. The packed house drew Mayor Gray and Councilmembers Muriel Bowser and Jack Evans, all of whom were unified in their commitment to stem the tide of displacement in the District.
Evans said, "We need to make sure the people who were here in the difficult times get to stay for the good times." But the three differed on how to respond to this need.
Mayor Gray promised a big housing announcement at his State of the District address next week, so he didn't make any commitments at this time. The Comprehensive Housing Strategy Task Force, which the Mayor commissioned nearly a year ago, has recently finished its work. Their report is expected soon, so he's likely waiting for its publication before making a statement.
He did take the opportunity to praise key housing programs that have struggled in the recession, including the Housing Production Trust Fund and Local Rent Supplement Program.
Bowser, however, challenged the Mayor on his housing record. "You can't say you're for affordable housing and take $40 million out of the Housing Production Trust Fund," she said referring to the DC budget in 2012 and 2013 when the administration proposed $18 and $20 million in cuts to the program, respectively.
The Housing Production Trust Fund has created 7,500 affordable housing units in its 10-year history and is respected as a model across the country. It remains to be seen if the Mayor's strategy will include a continued commitment to this highly-successful program.
The next few months will be critical for housing funding. The task force is scheduled to release its report in the next few weeks, and Mayor Gray will announce his housing plan. The Mayor will then submit his budget to the DC Council, which many hope will offer increased investments to make housing affordable to District residents.
"It is time to act," said Bob Pohlman, Executive Director of the Coalition for Nonprofit Housing and Economic Development. "More than a thousand newcomers are flooding into the District every month, putting more and more pressure on the cost of housing. If we don't face this reality and act now, affordable housing will be out of reach for tens of thousands of DC residents."
What does seem clear is that after years of accelerating housing need and limited political interest in the topic, affordable housing is becoming a key political issue again.
As development along Rhode Island Avenue and New York Avenue take shape over the next few years, much of DC's Ward 5 will see major changes. But can these changes draw new residents without displacing existing ones? A key element will be to preserve and expand the availability of affordable housing.
Last week, the Housing For All Campaign hosted a town hall meeting on housing in Ward 5. The meeting focused on how to keep existing residents and draw new ones as the housing landscape changes dramatically.
Fortunately, many organizations have had success developing affordable housing in Ward 5. One of the smallest is Open Arms Housing, which provides permanent housing and wrap-around services to 11 chronically homeless and mentally ill women.
Marilyn Kresky-Wolff is the Director of Open Arms, and she spoke at the Housing Town Hall about the success her program has had in the lives of these women: none of their residents have returned to homelessness. Two of the residents spoke about getting back on their feet and rebuilding their lives.
Open Arms Housing, like many other projects in Ward 5, have succeeded by paying attention to the needs of the community they serve. This was particularly important when they rehabilitated the 258 units at Edgewood Terrace VI, an extensive complex just across Rhode Island Avenue on 4th Street NE.
In the early 1990s, Edgewood Terrace served as one of the largest drug markets in Washington. Today it is a mixed income apartment community with on site services for residents including adult education, computer training, and day care programs for children. The key ingredient in the outstanding change was the commitment of the developers, Community Preservation and Development Corporation, to tenant engagement in every step of the revitalization process.
In 1995, when the Community Preservation and Development Corporation (CPDC) bought the first section of Edgewood Terrace from HUD, CPDC immediately sat down with tenant association leaders. The relationship between CPDC and the tenants resulted in renovated apartments, as well as common areas for youth programs, job training, computer classes, and community events.
With more people drawn to public spaces and a partnership between CPDC, the tenants, and the Metropolitan Police Department they were able to break up the drug trade. Residents who had once been afraid to venture outside after dark now had reclaimed their community.
Affordable housing developers continue to find solutions to meet the diverse housing needs of the community. Ward 5 residents can look forward to the opening of Metropolitan Overlook, a mixed income condominium on 2nd Street NE, just blocks off of Rhode Island Ave. Rehabbing a property that has sat vacant for 20 years, Metropolitan Overlook will be a 37-unit condominium with 11 permanently affordable units.
Ward 5 will continue to benefit from the investments in affordable housing that build vibrant spaces for current and future District residents.
It doesn't seem like there would be a connection between the amount of affordable housing DC builds, and the cost of a speeding ticket. But those two things might become directly connected this winter.
Last week, the DC Fiscal Policy Institute revealed that the Gray administration plans to pay for lower fines with $25 million in "unexpected revenue," the money which becomes available if revenue projections in the DC budget are too conservative.
There has been much outcry from drivers about the cost of these tickets, yielding proposals to lower fines from the Council, particularly Councilmember Tommy Wells. This response, however, does more than just lower punishments for unsafe driving. It also penalizes District programs, including affordable housing, which District leaders have already deemed top priorities for unexpected revenue.
In March, Mayor Gray's proposed budget included $84 million in revenue from speeding tickets, cuts to many human services and affordable housing programs, and a "priority restoration list." Top on the list are homeless shelters, youth mental health services, and the Housing Production Trust Fund.
The latest budget is the second year the Housing Production Trust Fund has had the majority of its funding used for other programs, with a commitment that it would be a priority for restoration. Of the $38 million removed in the last two years, however, the District has only restored $2 million.
Spending money first on lowering speeding tickets runs counter to the Mayor's and Council's own commitments to fund key programs with the first available resources. The Mayor and Council agreed to the list during budget negotiations. This allowed residents directly see the trade-offs between programs, and represented as a set of promises to residents about how it would spend extra revenue.
The Mayor and Council want to act quickly to respond to the public concern over the cost of traffic violations, but they have dragged their feet finding funding to restore the Housing Production Trust Fund and funding the other critical areas. They should not speed to a resolution, without looking at the other impacts this choice would bring to many people in the District of Columbia.
As the Comprehensive Housing Strategy Task Force moves towards a conclusion, task force members and the public are beginning to focus on measurable solutions to affordable housing need. Task force members met Wednesday morning and laid out a timeline for having recommendations ready for Mayor Gray by mid-January.
Harry Sewell, co-chair of the task force, called on members to create a strategy that was attainable, but also aspirational to meet DC's affordable housing needs. Next steps for creating that strategy are a meeting to discuss the Vision 2020, and a full task force meeting in December.
At the evening hearing held at THEARC, in Southeast DC, members of the public talked about a wide range of housing issues, which is appropriate given the broad mandate of the Housing Task Force.
Many of those who spoke at the task force hearing had direct experience as victims of DC's ongoing housing crisis. Over a dozen residents who were homeless, or had experienced homelessness, came out to this hearing in Ward 8. They told stories of working, raising children, and going to school while experiencing homelessness or unstable housing.
Many of them also came with concrete recommendations. Miriam Garcia became homeless when she was the victim of domestic abuse. Now, she lives at a building operated by Transitional Housing Corporation. She called on more resources for the program that helped her get stable housing. "Affordable housing and the Local Rent Supplement Program has allowed me to stabilize my life and has given me the opportunity to offer my child a healthy place to grow up without domestic violence," she said. "I suggest that DC develop 1,000 more units a year."
Manuel Ochoa from the Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC) urged the task force to create a specific and comprehensive plan that addresses the total housing needs for District households across income levels. LEDC focuses on both housing and economic development through their small business technical assistance program, and so they work closely with many residents who struggle to raise their incomes and maintain stable housing.
Ochoa called for returning the Home Purchase Assistance Program, DC's first-time home-buyers program, to its 2008 high. It served 500 people that year with $35 million.
Misty Thomas of the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless focused on programs that would impact very low-income residents. One key element was to create of a preservation strategy that would set targets for the types of properties the District would prioritize preserving and maintaining.
The District has thousands of subsidized units, but there is no plan in place to make sure that they maintain affordability in the long term. Such a strategy would both identify the priority for housing types, but also indicate how such preservation would be ensured.
As the task force draws to a conclusion, more specific recommendations are coming to the surface. Not only are the task force members beginning to discuss some of the goals they will ultimately recommend to the Mayor, they are also considering ways to raise the funds to pay for it. Ideas range from simply making a commitment in the District's budget to creating new tools like a local tax credit program.
You can see many of the proposals being discussed on the task force website as well as the schedule for upcoming meetings. The Task Force is still accepting written testimony.
Individual tenants and representatives of large organizations alike spoke about their experiences with District housing policy at a hearing on Monday. Those testifying overwhelmingly reflected the need for more affordable housing. Many spoke about the Housing Production Trust Fund, which is successful but starved for money, and the Housing First program to combat homelessness.
The hearing started with a packed room, with well over 100 people in attendance. The most touching testimonies drew heartfelt responses from the audience, such as when Gilma Merino, a Jubilee tenant with a visual impairment, had her testimony read by her school-aged son.
A tenant recognized long-time housing organizer and advocate Linda Leaks for her help in the creation of their housing cooperative, drawing loud applause. Although energy dwindled in the long hearing, many stayed for hours for a chance to speak or to listen and support others.
Resident Tom Gregory articulated concerns that landlords are able to profit unfairly in the housing market. Cheryl Cort, from the Coalition for Smarter Growth, argued for better use of public lands for affordable housing. Denice Speed, a Ward 7 resident at Marbury Plaza, spoke out for low income tenants. And Monica Buitrago read the testimony of Nathan Moon, an HIV positive tenant at 1111 Massachusetts Ave. who was unable to attend, and whose tenant association had worked to purchase the property when it was sold. Other participants spoke out about their success as first time homeowners, their concerns that public housing might be lost, and their desire for housing at all income levels.
Housing Production Trust Fund has successes, needs funding
Many talked about the Housing Production Trust Fund, like Marilyn Kresky-Wolff, Executive Director of Open Arms Housing. She called for the trust fund to keep enabling the housing programs we have to create successful programs like Open Arms, which serves chronically homeless women.
A tenant leader speaking through an interpreter also referenced the Trust Fund. His tenant association had hoped to maintain their housing as affordable through the tenant purchase process, but insufficient funds in the Trust Fund made it financially impossible, even though they had nonprofits who were interested in working with them. Blaise Rastello from Transitional Housing Corporation encouraged city leaders to use major projects like Walter Reed to help fill the trust fund.
It's unsurprising the trust fund got a lot of attention. Low funding levels in recent years has starved the trust fund. One of the task force's 5 working groups, "Rethinking Local Funding," has the task of looking specifically at funding for the Housing Production Trust Fund.
Housing First has made a difference in its short existence
Another highlighted program was Housing First, officially known as Permanent Supportive Housing. One of DC's smallest and newest programs, this program targets the chronically homeless with housing and wrap-around services. According to Jean Badalamenti of Miriam's Kitchen, "the District made great strides toward ending chronic homelessness when it launched the permanent supportive housing program in 2008."
John McDermott, who also testified at the hearing, was one of many people who benefited from the Housing First program. He spoke about how, before being diagnosed with major illnesses, he had worked and made a good living. Now he was thankful to the city for the support that he had gotten. But that wasn't enough. Like many others, he spoke out for more funding to address the unmet housing needs in the District. "We need an equal and balanced approach," he said. "[Where] everyone who needs housing can get it."
Task force considering many housing issues for January report
The 35 members of the Task Force represent an array of housing specialists from government, nonprofits, and for-profit organizations, all appointed by the mayor. Harry Sewell, director of the DC Housing Finance Agency and task force co-chair, hopes to have recommendations from to Mayor Gray by January so that the mayor's office can consider their report as it prepares the Fiscal Year 2014 budget.
Sewell began the hearing a presentation of data the task force has collected and a video, entitled "Miracle at East Lake," about a public housing project in Atlanta became mixed-income housing, leading to lower crime and improved education outcomes.
The group is considering a wide range of housing issues, and has posted online a lot of useful data.
The task force has a second hearing scheduled for November 14. Although they have not yet set the location, it will be somewhere east of the Anacostia River.
As the federal government returns control of St. Elizabeths East and Walter Reed to the DC government, the District has an opportunity to re-envision those neighborhoods. The Parklands in Ward 8, a neighborhood that has seen dramatic improvement over the last 2 decades, offers a successful model of equitable development.
The Parklands succeeded with a combination of a for-profit developer, passionate residents, a community development corporation, nonprofits, newly-opened federal land, and federal investment incentives. Hey, no one ever said this stuff was easy.
In the early 1990s, the Parklands in the Congress Heights neighborhood of Southeast, DC was a 1,400 apartment complex with a rate of a murder a month per block. "But in 1991, in the midst of a drug and crime wave that had hit Southeast especially hard, the high rate of casualties was hardly unprecedented" writes Tony Proscio, author of Becoming What We Can Be: Stories of Community Development in Washington, DC.
The book then goes on to chronicle the magnificent turn-around of first the Parklands, then the neighborhood as a whole. Despite the blight and crime, a number of residents were determined to work together to make it a better place. Even before redevelopment occurred, community leader Brenda Jones founded the Parklands Community Center to provide youth with a safe space to learn and play.
Then in 1991 William C Smith & Co. acquired the Parklands apartment complex and renovated it to include "smaller scale clusters of 'villages' within the wider area. The renamed 'Villages of Parklands, which formally opened in 1994, made room for the humanizing lawns and walkways that contribute not only to social interaction and recreation but, just as important, to safety."
It became clear amid the rejuvenation of the neighborhood that children needed a place to grow and learn. William C Smith & Co teamed up with the nonprofit Building Bridges Across the River (BBAR) to create a community center for Ward 8. Through generous contributions from local philanthropic organizations and the District of Columbia government, and the hard work of BBAR, the Town Hall Education, Arts, and Recreation Campus (THEARC) was born.
THEARC sits on a site formerly used by the Department of the Interior, which was returned to the District after sitting vacant for years. Today, it houses the Washington Middle School for Girls, Boys and Girls Club, a Children's National Medical Center clinic, the Washington Ballet, Corcoran College of Art & Design, and the Levine School of Music.
By 2007, a grocery store opened in the neighborhood, the first in two decades. The Giant at the Shops at Park Village was made possible through the city's use of land that had previously been Camp Simms Military Base, investment leveraged by the New Markets Tax Credit, the advocacy of the East of the River Community Development Corporation, and William C Smith & Co. Today, a neighborhood once ridden with crime and blight now has a grocery store, a sit down restaurant, a world class community center, and truly mixed income housing; from subsidized housing, to rental, to single family homes.
This large-scale redevelopment was made possible because of the commitment of the private, nonprofit, and government sectors. It was the ability to leverage investment in a multitude of ways that made redevelopment of the Parklands inclusive for all levels of income. The redevelopment of St. Elizabeths and Walter Reed should look to emulate this model.
For more stories of community redevelopment in Washington, including Columbia Heights, Edgewood Terrace, and H St, check out Becoming What We Can Be: Stories of Community Development in Washington, DC by Tony Proscio.
This year, DC's Housing Production Trust Fund celebrates 10 years as a key tool for preserving and developing affordable housing in the District of Columbia. It's survived and succeeded despite encountering funding challenges from its inception.
The Trust Fund has produced and preserved over 7,500 units of affordable housing across every ward in the District. It has disbursed $320 million and leveraged another $794 million from private and other sources, for a total of $1.1 billion in development. DC's Trust Fund has become a model nationally for its guidelines which ensure it is used to serve District residents with the greatest housing need.
Yet the history of the Trust Fund has never been easy. A new report from the Coalition for Nonprofit Housing and Economic Development, titled A Decade of Progress, highlights the Trust Fund's past and current threats to stable and consistent funding as well its successes and impact on neighborhoods across DC.
Established in 1988, the Trust Fund did not have a source of funding to make loans until 2002. At that time, Mayor Anthony Williams proposed using 15% of the DC Real Estate Recordation and Transfer Tax. This tax, based on the value of property at the point of sale, grows the Trust Fund as residential and commercial development occurs in the District.
Over the next few years, higher-than-expected revenues from the Real Estate Recordation and Transfer Tax caused some District leaders to propose cutting the dedicated amount in half to 7.5%. 3 years in a row, advocates had to convince the DC Council to maintain full funding of the Trust Fund.
The Trust Fund soon faced a new problem. When the housing bubble burst in 2008, the economic crash particularly hurt the Housing Production Trust Fund. The Trust Fund lost significant funding. At this point the Trust Fund had a long pipeline of projects to which funding had been committed but not yet dispersed, and was unable to make new loans.
Again, there was a push to provide adequate funding for the Housing Production Trust Fund. That fall, the DC Council, passed the "Housing Production Trust Fund Stabilization Amendment Act of 2008." The amendment guaranteed minimum levels of funding from Real Estate Recordation and Transfer Taxes for the Trust Fund: $70 million in FY 2010, $80 million in FY 2011, and $80 million plus inflation thereafter.
Unfortunately, because the legislation was passed subject to annual appropriation, the Trust Fund has never been funded at those levels. The real estate crash and recovery would have been a prime opportunity to clear out the pipeline and begin to fund new projects, had the Trust Fund gotten the appropriations it needed.
Just two years after the Council committed to funding the Trust Fund at higher levels, the Trust Fund received a major cut in the FY 2012 budget. In the spring of 2011, the Mayor proposed and the DC Council voted for a budget that would use $18 million from the Trust Fund to pay for the ongoing cost of the Local Rent Supplement Program (LRSP) by transferring the funds to the DC Housing Authority.
Previously, the LRSP had been paid for from the District's general fund. In FY 2012, the cut, along with other ongoing costs, reduced the amount of funding left in the Trust Fund for new production and preservation efforts to only $13 million.
This trend of decreased funding has expanded. In FY 2013, the total transfer to the Housing Authority for LRSP will be $19.9 million. Unless a permanent alternative solution to using the Trust Fund to pay for the ongoing cost of LRSP is implemented, it will drain the Fund from its intended use indefinitely.
As part of the current Comprehensive Housing Strategy Task Force appointed by Mayor Gray, an explicit goal is to "develop alternative funding sources for the Housing Production Trust Fund to make funding more predictable."
Despite its rocky history, housing providers, funders, and government continue to applaud the Trust Fund. Nearly every elected current official has, at one point, voted to fund, restore, or improve the Trust Fund. Ideally, the next ten years of the Housing Production Trust Fund will be easier ones.
Affordable housing in the District is disappearing, and programs to help low- and moderate-income residents afford housing in DC are dwindling. One of the affordable housing programs at risk in this year's budget, thanks largely to federal budget cuts, is the Home Purchase Assistance Program (HPAP), which has helped 13,000 low-income renters become homeowners in DC.
HPAP has a track record of success, a credit to the non-profit housing organizations that administer the program. In addition to financial assistance, HPAP recipients also receive intensive financial and homebuyer education, preparing them for the responsibilities and challenges of homeownership.
Even through the housing crisis, HPAP recipients only have a 2% foreclosure rate. And HPAP has helped maintain diversity in changing neighborhoods like LeDroit Park, Columbia Heights, and Logan Circle. HPAP assistance has been a key tool in supporting new homeowners in the District, even as the city has lost the majority of its low-cost rental and ownership housing since 2000, according to the DC Fiscal Policy Institute.
How does HPAP work? HPAP is the District's homegrown downpayment assistance program which provides up to $44,000 for first-time, low- and moderate-income home buyers. HPAP acts as a second mortgage. Recipients begin paying their loan down starting in year five of owning their home and make monthly payments over a 40-year period instead of the traditional 30-year period, making the payments more affordable. As HPAP recipients repay their loans, the city recoups the cost, which currently generates $2 million in repayment every year.
Although beloved by politicians and residents alike, HPAP has dwindled since 2008. The program in FY13 is slated to be only a third of its size only five years ago. As a result, the number of people who can use the program has fallen. And this year, the decrease will impact about 100 families. According the DHCD, last year the program served 246 families, next year it will serve around 150.
The city has used federal funding to maintain the HPAP program, relying heavily in recent years on stimulus dollars, but this year, federal funds are not available to fill the gap. The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development's grant programs that have also funded HPAP also dwindled; its HOME program shrank 37% in 2012, and its Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) dwindled by 12%.
Also, the 2010 Census made DC is eligible for less CDBG funding, since the city has fewer high poverty areas than in previous years. All of these combined losses have left few funds available for housing programs like HPAP.
In April, more than a dozen HPAP recipients attended the DHCD budget oversight hearing to advocate for the program that has helped them become District homeowners. Attendees highlighted the diversity of residents impacted by the program.
Elizabeth Palmberg purchased her home with an HPAP loan, only to be diagnosed with lymphoma soon after. She has been able to afford her mortgage despite her health struggles; "the HPAP program helped me to be able to still buy my condo, and now every month as I write my mortgage check, I am grateful to be building equity which will give me stability against shocks that life might send my way in the future."
Bernice Joseph was able to purchase her home in Logan Circle in 2002 and has no plans of leaving the neighborhood. She loves the convenience, and believes that HPAP has had a huge impact on her family and her educational opportunities. "Without this program I do not know where I would be. But I do know I would not be in my neighborhood, the one that is so dear to my heart, the one where I have put down roots, and the one where I have lived for the past 21 years. I have raised all four of my kids in DC. Without the stable price of my mortgage, I would not be able to afford to go back to school. I definitely could not afford my classes if I had to pay market-rate rent."
The value of homeownership of course extends beyond the individual. Homeowners pay property tax back to the city and provide an anchor for communities. Homeownership is an indicator of success for families and kids across the country and one of the most important wealth-building tools in our country, especially in communities of color and low-income communities. A 2003 study found that housing wealth accounted for 77% of all low income household's wealth.
HPAP has supported District residents and communities by encouraging homeownership, neighborhood stability, and equity building. This year, the program will become even weaker after years of reductions. The DC government should encourage residents to become homeowners, to invest in their communities and themselves by supporting the HPAP program with local funds.
Sarah Scruggs contributed to this blogpost, which can also be found at www.housingforallblog.org.
The Housing Production Trust Fund, DC's premier tool for producing and preserving affordable housing, is nearing extinction. Facing 2 years of cuts from Mayor Gray totaling $38 million, and apathy toward undoing this decision from the DC Council, the Trust Fund is dwindling into irrelevance.
The Trust Fund has created over 7000 homes in its 10-year history, and 1000 more are in various stages of development. But this year's proposed budget only leaves enough for 170 units to be built next year. By 2016, that number will fall to only 36. A Trust Fund that can only produce a few dozen units is no longer a Housing Production Trust Fund.
The city has seen big changes over the life of the Trust Fund, but today the Trust Fund's mission is more important than ever. In the last 10 years, DC has finally crossed the mythical population mark of 600,000 residents, and has become a destination for young professionals.
Neighborhoods like Columbia Heights and H Street have seen makeovers so dramatic their own mothers might not recognize them. It's no secret that these changes have had a mixed impact on longtime and low-income residents.
Over the last decade, the has city lost 20,000 units of low-cost housing. In fact, Brookings' analysis of the population data shows that affluent residents increased as the population of low income residents fell. To put it another way, higher-income people moved into lower-income people's apartments.
Preserving affordable housing is one of the mandates of the Housing Production Trust Fund. The Trust Fund is meant to preserve low- and moderate-income families' ability to stay in their homes and communities as neighborhoods change. The Trust Fund has done this successfully all over the city.
Tucked within some of DC's most rapidly changing neighborhoods are buildings that have long-term affordability locked in because of their funding from the Housing Production Trust Fund. In Mount Pleasant there is the St. Dennis, in Logan Circle there is the Norwood and in Petworth there is Three Tree Flats. The current residents and future low-income tenants of these buildings get the benefits of the new grocery stores, upgraded libraries, and all the other amenities that are making DC a place where so many people want to live.
The other goal of the Trust Fund is to produce new high-quality affordable housing. SOME, a 40-year-old nonprofit that provides a wide range of services to DC's homeless population, has been doing this with great success, most recently in Wards 7 and 8. They have purchased, gutted, and rehabbed vacant, decrepit buildings around the wards, and are turning them into 250 high-quality homes for currently homeless individuals.
These refurbished buildings include a thoughtful mixture of housing needs (including emergency shelter beds in buildings with single-room occupancy and efficiency units) as well as social needs such as a rooftop deck, with elevator access, for a new senior building.
Unfortunately, these types of projects will no longer be possible if the cuts to the Trust Fund continue. By not taking it seriously enough, the city risks losing its only locally-funded tool for remaking derelict property into vibrant community assets, and for helping long time residents stay in place.
- Metro policy for refunds after delays falls short, riders say
- Judge denies injunction against closing schools
- Long-term closures: A solution to single-tracking?
- M Street cycle track keeps improving, draws church anger
- Cyclists are special and do have their own rules
- O'Malley announces first projects using new gas tax money
- ICC losing bus service in classic bait and switch