D.C. Councilmembers and Residents Find Common Ground on Affordable Housing

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As the D.C. City Council continues to debate the 2019 budget, housing advocates are making sure their representatives keep the door open for affordable housing.

More than 100 individuals recently met with city councilmembers for Advocacy Day 2018. Organized by the Coalition for Nonprofit Housing & Economic Development, the annual event is an opportunity for housing advocates to convey their funding priorities directly to councilmembers.

“I would love to hear what you think is an appropriate number [for Local Rent Supplement Program (LRSP) funding],” said Vince Gray, Ward 7 Councilmember. Gray was responding to a question about housing subsidies that support people making 30 percent of area median income and below. LRSP funding enables non-profits like Jubilee Housing to offer homes for residents with very low incomes.

“What we’re trying to do now is make sure we know fully what your priorities are and move dollars around as much as we can,” said Gray.

Mayor Bowser has made ending homelessness the centerpiece of her administration’s housing agenda. Her proposed budget includes $1.6 million for permanent supportive housing for families experiencing long-term homelessness. However, the budget does not allocate any funding for LRSP, which Jubilee, CNHED, and other affordable housing supporters recommend be funded at $5.5 million.

“I’m a testament to the importance of funding for affordable housing, because I’m a beneficiary of LRSP,” said Brian Adams, a Jubilee resident and long-time housing advocate. “Although I praise the mayor for investing in housing for the homeless, we also need LRSP funding to keep people in their homes and prevent homelessness.”

In addition to LRSP funding, advocates also pushed for greater investment in the Housing Production Trust Fund. Non-profit developers like Jubilee rely on the trust fund to create and preserve affordable homes. They recommend raising the base trust fund level from $100 million to $120 million for 2019.

“It’s really critical in Adams Morgan because there’s market-rate development underway everywhere you look,” said Barbara Moore, a co-founder of Jubilee. “It’s time to move [the trust fund base amount] up to $120 million, at least.”

Councilmembers seemed receptive to the message.

“Affordable housing is what’s going to stabilize our families,” said Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau. “Now is the time to massage the mayor’s vision to make sure there’s money for [LRSP].”

Added Gray, “I’m a friend and I’m going to do everything I can to help you reach those goals.”

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