Ambitious HOUSING Goals for the City….
For months Mayor Bowser has talked about her ambitious goals for the city, particularly in housing: the city needs “to create 36,000 new units of housing by 2025.” The message continues: “…to get there we have to be bold – we must challenge ourselves to think differently and craft programs and policies that address needs of residents in every neighborhood and across the income spectrum.”
Detailed plans are now emerging: 12,000 new affordable units with specific quotas established for each neighborhood planning area. The Mayor contends that the city’s distribution of affordable housing is restricting poorer residents from opportunities that wealthier residents benefit from. However, the challenges are significant. To make housing affordable, the housing construction must be subsidized and/or the renters supported with vouchers. The high cost of land in certain areas of the city adds complexity.
Each year, DC government issues income eligibility limits for affordable housing. Eligibility is 80% or below the Median Family Income (MFI) for the area as published annually by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The District’s 2019 income limits for assistance are $97,050 for a family of four and $67,950 for a single-person household. Eligibility does not assure assistance!
The greatest challenge is housing for those with no income or with income below 30% MFI. The city manages 8000 units of public housing, most often the option for the very poor. At least 2500 of these units are in desperate, often uninhabitable, condition. A substantial investment, estimated at over $2 billion, must be made over the next 20 years in renovation and restoration to maintain this resource: this year a $25.5 million appropriation will rehabilitate only 500 units!
Persons in DC emergency shelter February 2, 2020: 1216 single adults; 291 families with 549 children.
READ MORE: Recent articles in the local press that address the affordable housing challenge.
And we pray for those in positions of civic authority, servants of all the people. May their compassion, understanding and just actions lead to a city that measures its greatness by the care it provides for its people in need.
Rev. John Graham, Grace Episcopal Church, Georgetown ______________________________________________