For many years, Jubilee Housing has combined supportive services as part of how it manages its deeply affordable housing portfolio. However, while affordable housing is the most critical building block for a stable life, housing by itself is not enough. And for the first time, DC’s Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) is recognizing that fact.
After many years of advocacy, Jubilee was excited to see in July that one of the primary funders of affordable housing in the city, DHCD, amended their central housing financing tool to prioritize affordable housing that also includes a resident services plan. For the first time,
affordable housing developers like Jubilee can improve their chance for funding based on how many, and how well they deliver, services to their residents.
On an annual basis, DHCD releases a notice of funding availability (NOFA) to build or preserve different levels of affordable housing throughout the city. The NOFA released in July 2019 has added a new category, which prioritizes projects that include a resident services plan. This new prioritization affirms what Jubilee has known for a long time – affordable housing that combines effective resident services will create conditions for residents being able to reach their full potential.
For years, Jubilee has provided resident support services on-site or in partnership with other neighborhood non-profits. For example, what we consider our “Newborn to College and Career Pathway ” spans early childhood learning centers at Jubilee Jumpstart & Martha’s Table, Youth Services provided through Jubilee Housing, tutoring from For Love of Children (FLOC) and arts enrichment from Sitar, and Jubilee Housing’s own teen programming preparing older students for college and career. And over the years, we’ve seen many children growing up in Jubilee Housing succeed and go to college as the first one in their family, often using a Jubilee to College scholarship, or working with Jubilee Jobs to get their first employment opportunity.
Because Jubilee Housing has witnessed the success of this model, it has advocated at a city-wide level that the public financing of affordable housing should prioritize the combination of housing and resident services. Through its leadership at the Coalition for Non-profit Housing and Economic Development (CNHED) and at a number legislative hearing opportunities, Jubilee Housing has shared its successful model and advocated for a housing policy that promotes justice.
Jubilee Housing believes that DC can be a place where every resident has an equal opportunity to thrive. But the residents of affordable housing developments, often the lowest-income residents of DC, often have the biggest barriers to reaching their potential. Safe, stable, and affordable housing removes one of those barriers. But to create a truly even playing field for all DC residents, those in affordable housing often need more support to reach their dreams. Combining affordable housing with services, in thriving neighborhoods that offer opportunity, creates justice. This is justice housing.
Jubilee applauds this new direction of DHCD. Our city is recognized nationally as a leader in affordable housing, spending more per capita on affordable housing preservation and development than any other city in the country. If we can continue to advocate for the city to embrace the principles of justice housing in its policy decisions, we can truly create a city where every resident has an equal opportunity
By: Martin Mellett, Jubilee Housing, Vice President of External Affairs