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DHCD Announces Progress on Vacant to Vibrant DC Initiative

Tuesday, January 30, 2018
Auction closed that will transform vacant spaces into up to 50 workforce housing units

(Washington, DC) –The Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) announced today progress to provide more workforce housing in the District with the closing of an auction of 33 properties through Mayor Muriel Bowser’s initiative.

“Vacant to Vibrant DC is one more way we are getting Washingtonians in all eight wards on pathways to the middle class,” said Mayor Bowser. “The outpouring of support for this initiative is a reflection of our community’s commitment to finding new and innovative ways to build more affordable housing, create new job opportunities, and ensure that more residents are able to participate in our city’s prosperity.”

The five-day auction by Alex Cooper Auctioneers closed January 23, with all 33 sites—in neighborhoods such as Bellvue (Ward 8), Carver/Langston (Ward 5), Deanwood (Ward 7), and Park View (Ward 1)—receiving bids. The winning bidder would have to create workforce housing under specific criteria and timeframes. Now that the auction has closed, the winning bidder will be notified and administrative steps will be taken over the next several weeks to finalize the purchase agreement.

“Those who attended our informational meetings represented a variety of groups—real estate investors, real estate agents, community representatives, homeowners and future home buyers,” said DHCD Director Polly Donaldson. “No matter what their category, attendees were most interested in the auction’s potential to provide more homeownership opportunities in the District.”

Vacant to Vibrant DC was launched in December 2017 to transform the balance of inventory in DHCD’s Property Acquisition and Disposition Division (PADD) into productive solutions using five action points: (1) Action 1: Auctioning into Affordability, where properties are subject to an affordable housing covenant for households earning up to $132,350 for a family of four (120 percent of the Median Family Income); (2) Action 2—Supporting Small Business to Spur Homeownership for District Employees, under which Certified Business Enterprises (CBEs) are bidding to renovate sites into workforce housing; (3) Action 3—Building Homes Through HIP, where the DC Housing Financing Agency (DCHFA)’s Housing Investment Platform is soliciting partners to build workforce housing on two sites in Anacostia (Ward 8) and Carver/Langston (Ward 5); (4) Action 4—Expanding Green Space, a partnership with Casey Trees to expand and preserve green space in Ward 8; and (5) Action 5—Seeing a Tiny House in Action, a demonstration project in partnership with the DC Students Construction Trades Foundation.

There has also been movement on Vacant to Vibrant DC action points other than the auction: (1) Phase 1 of the CBE solicitation recently closed with eight responses to renovate three sites into workforce housing, an award announcement will be made by early February, and another solicitation will be released in early March; (2) HIP closed its request for qualifications (RFQ) on January 3 and approved six developer partners, who will submit proposals by February 2—DCHFA will select the final partners in early February; and (3) this spring, the public can look forward to learning more about the green space expansion and tiny home demonstration project.

Mayor Bowser’s Commitment to Housing District Residents

Since coming into office, the Bowser Administration has sparked the creation or preservation of more than 9,600 affordable units, with another 3,300 units in preconstruction. In Fiscal Year 2017, the District made historic investments in affordable housing, getting more than $138 million in Housing Production Trust Fund financing out the door to support 23 projects that will produce or preserve more than 1,900 affordable units.

The District’s multi-pronged approach to housing production and preservation, homeownership, and development of vacant properties is winning national recognition. On September 11, the District was selected for the Urban Land Institute’s Larson Housing Policy Leadership Award. This annual award, provided by ULI’s Terwilliger Center for Housing, recognizes innovative ways the public sector is addressing the nation’s affordable housing crisis.