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Strike Force Presents Mayor Bowser with Six Recommendations to Preserve Affordable Housing

Saturday, June 11, 2016
Strategies include new programs and funding for property investments, tenants

(Washington, DC) Today, the DC Housing Preservation Strike Force unveiled six recommendations to Mayor Muriel Bowser and other stakeholders on how the District can preserve its existing supply of affordable housing.

“I charged the strike force with coming up with an action plan to help preserve affordable housing units in the District, and am pleased to hear these recommendations,” said Mayor Bowser. “I am looking forward to reading the formal report at the end of the month so my Administration can begin taking next steps that ensure we preserve our existing supply of affordable housing and capitalize on other opportunities to protect our affordable housing stock.”

The six recommendations were announced during the 8th Annual Housing Expo and Home Show as a part of June Housing Bloom, the mayor’s month-long initiative showcasing how the public and private sectors are partnering to produce and preserve affordable housing, and revitalize neighborhoods across the District. The recommendations will form the basis of a final report that the Mayor will receive by June 30, 2016.

“As chairperson of the strike force, the Mayor tasked me with bringing together a varied group of stakeholders for one common goal—to preserve affordable housing in the District,” said Polly Donaldson, director of the DC Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). “We’ve worked hard for almost a year, and I am pleased about what we have presented to the mayor as a team.”

The six recommendations are:

  1. Establish a Preservation Unit located within a District government agency that is tasked with being the District’s central resource to preserve existing assisted affordable housing in the marketplace and identify opportunities to place “naturally affordable” unassisted units under covenant or otherwise preserve their affordability. Among other responsibilities, the unit also will be responsible for creating and maintaining a database of housing that is affordable through restrictive covenants or market-driven forces.
  2. Provide seed funding to a Public-Private Preservation Fund to facilitate early investments in preservation deals by focusing public dollars for preservation transactions and also leveraging greater amounts of private capital to preserve affordable housing.
  3. Develop a Small Properties Preservation and Affordability Program within DHCD to assist properties with five to 50 units with funds for renovations and repairs.
  4. Implement DOPA (District Opportunity To Purchase Act) by releasing draft regulations that allow the District to take greater advantage of DOPA through the assignment of ownership to pre-qualified developers.
  5. Improve Preservation under TOPA (Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act) and TOPA Exemptions by providing financial incentives for preservation in TOPA transactions, including predevelopment activities, legal services, third party reports, and acquisition bridge financing. This assistance also should include a mechanism for collecting accurate data about the outcomes of TOPA transactions.
  6. Programs to Allow Low Income Senior Renters to Age in Place by formulating strategies to allow such residents to remain in place. Examples include tenant-based vouchers or other rental assistance to seniors on a fixed incomes or renovations of buildings/units/homes to create more accessible housing options for seniors to age in place.

The Mayor convened the 18-member strike force in 2015. The strike force is comprised of District agency housing experts and selected stakeholders from the public, and was charged with developing an action plan to preserve the District’s existing affordable housing covenants set to expire by 2020.

The list of strike force members is below:

  1. Polly Donaldson (Chair), DHCD
  2. Honorable Anita Bonds, Council of the District of Columbia
  3. Honorable Elissa Silverman, Council of the District of Columbia
  4. Brian Kenner, Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED)
  5. Eric Shaw, Office of Planning (OP)
  6. Melinda Bolling, Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA)
  7. Adrianne Todman, District of Columbia Housing Authority (DCHA)
  8. Maria K. Day-Marshall, District of Columbia Housing Finance Agency (DCHFA)
  9. Johanna Shreve, Office of the Tenant Advocate (OTA)
  10. Tom Borger, Borger Management
  11. Elizabeth Elia, Elia Law Group, PLLC
  12. Chris Hornig, Klein Hornig
  13. Ramon Jacobson, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC)
  14. Todd Lee, DC Housing Finance Agency (DCHFA)
  15. Eric Price, AFLCIO Housing Investment Trust
  16. Joe Sternlieb, Georgetown BID
  17. Amy Vruno, Washington Interfaith Network
  18. Sandy Wilkes, Wilkes Company

View the full calendar of events for June Housing Bloom, HERE.