Affordable Housing Programs Get a Boost in the Final FY 2013 Budget
Now that the numbers and legalese have been finalized, it appears that the budget passed by the DC Council for next year will include nearly $22 million in NEW funding for affordable housing programs. This is very good news.
As a recent DCPFI report showed, affordable housing is the District is vanishing. Since 2000, DC has lost more than half of its low cost rental units, and more than 70 percent of its low-value homes. With housing prices skyrocketing and the incomes of most DC households not keeping pace, more and more DC households now pay more than 50 percent of their income on rent—a severe housing burden that leaves some families with little left over each month for other basic necessities. And since the recession hit, funding for affordable housing has fallen significantly.
But this year, the Council recognized affordable housing as a top priority. The additional funding for affordable housing programs in the FY 2013 budget included:
- $15 million for DC’s Housing Production Trust Fund The Council was able to restore $15 million of the proposed $20 million cut in the mayor’s budget by directing resources from the sale of DC owned property in the NoMa neighborhood. This was the second year in a row the mayor proposed a large cut to the trust fund, which is DC’s main source to maintain and build affordable units.
- $4 million for funding the Local Rent Supplement Program DC’s local rent supplement program helps make homes affordable to residents with very low-incomes. The fiscal year 2013 budget adds $4 million to the tenant-based side of the program and will be specifically geared to help move 250 families out of shelters and motels and into stable housing. These additional funds also mark the first time since fiscal year 2008 that the rent supplement program has seen a significant expansion of funds to allow for the creation of new affordable units.
- $2.5 million for the Home Purchase Assistance Program The DC Council also added $2.5 million to restore part of a $5 million cut to DC’s Home Purchase Assistance Program, a program that provide low-interest loans to first-time low-income homebuyers.
Is that all?
There’s more. The Council also added another $2 million to the Local Rent Supplement Program starting in fiscal year 2014 for the project-and-sponsor-based side of local rent supplement program. This part of the program ties housing subsidies to specific projects or non-profit housing providers or landlords to help make units affordable to very low-income DC households. This part of rent supplement has also not seen a significant expansion of the program since fiscal year 2008 and could help create between 200 and 250 units of affordable housing starting in fiscal year 2014.
Lastly, the Council also made housing a priority for future revenue by keeping several important restorations for housing on the contingency revenue list that Mayor Gray had proposed. This includes an important provision that allows $18 million for the housing trust fund to be restored if revenues come in before the District has been able to sell the building in the NoMa neighborhood and $2.5 million for DC’s Home Purchase Assistance program that would completely restore the $5 million cut to the program in FY 2013.
The Council made a good decision prioritizing affordable housing. Without stable housing, it’s hard to pay attention in school, keep a job, and live a healthy life.