Maintaining Economic Diversity and Affordability: A Strategy for Preserving Affordable Rental Housing in the District of Columbia — Executive Summary
The District of Columbia lacks a formal policy and strategy for preserving existing affordable rental housing. This paper, drafted by members of the DCPN Preservation Strategy Working Group is intended to address that need.
The conclusions reached and recommendations made represent the views of members of the Working Group and not necessarily those of the aforementioned government agencies or other Network members who participate in monthly meetings of the DC Preservation Network. Our recommendations in brief are as follows:
The District of Columbia recognizes that to maintain and increase affordable housing options for residents it must preserve existing affordable housing in addition to creating more affordable units. Thus, it will strive to preserve wherever possible and practicable the affordability and sustainability of its existing affordable housing stock. To do so it should dedicate substantial additional funding to preservation and adopt goals and criteria for allocating resources to achieve this objective.
- Preserve existing District and federal subsidized housing, including public housing
- Prevent displacement of residents with low and moderate incomes
- Preserve housing that serves vulnerable populations such as persons who have disabilities, or are formerly homeless, low income seniors or returning citizens
- Maintain diversity in neighborhoods
- Maintain the stock of market rate affordable rental housing
Preservation Criteria: The District should use the following 1 st tier criteria for determining the types of affordable rental housing that should be preserved:
- federally funded with rent or operating subsidy
- serves very low-income residents
- meets the needs of vulnerable population
- needed to maintain economic diversity
- near DC funded economic development projects
- near transit
If projects rank similarly under 1st tier criteria, 2nd tier criteria should be used to prioritize assistance.
- current low rent levels
- a high probability of being lost
- low cost per unit to preserve
Preservation Methods and Tools: DC’s preservation strategy should include a variety of approaches for preserving privately owned and publicly owned subsidized housing and privately owned affordable unsubsidized housing. Methods and tools are spelled out in the following preservation strategy paper.
- The District should create a Preservation Team made up of top officials from District housing agencies, Office of Planning, Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, and a representative from the DC Preservation Network to develop protocols for preserving affordable housing. An Action Team of operating staff from the above agencies and offices should be charged with implementation.
- The Department of Housing and Community Development should designate a senior staff person to support the work of the Preservation Team, coordinate preservation efforts across agency lines, and act as the liaison to the DC Preservation Network.
- The DC Preservation Network should continue to monitor affordable rental properties and alert officials, agencies, and Network participants about at-risk projects. 2 M