Chairman Brown, Councilmember Catania and members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to speak today. My name is Jenny Reed, and I am a Policy Analyst with the DC Fiscal Policy Institute. DCFPI engages in research and public education on the fiscal and economic health of the District of Columbia, with a particular emphasis on policies that affect low- and moderate-income residents.
I am here to testify today in support of the goal of this bill’to increase the affordable housing opportunities for people with special challenges. Many of the groups mentioned in this legislation ‘ the chronically homeless, people with development disabilities, people with severe mental illness, victims of domestic violence, and people living with HIV/AIDS ‘ have some of the toughest affordable housing challenges in the District.
However, I have concerns that the Inclusionary Zoning program may not be the best affordable housing program to meet this goal. I am glad that we are here today to talk about ways we can meet the affordable housing challenges for these groups, and I’d like to offer some suggestions that could more effectively increase affordable housing for these groups, as well as an option for expanding affordable housing opportunities not yet fully embraced by the District.
The Inclusionary Zoning program was passed in 2006, but has only recently gotten underway. The program works by requiring residential developers to set aside between 8-10 percent of the total housing units they build as affordable to people who make between 50 percent and 80 percent of area median income, or between $36,225 and $57,960 for a single individual.
In exchange, developers are given a density bonus and allowed to build more 20 percent more residential units than zoning regulations would typically allow.
The Inclusionary Zoning Amendment Act of 2011 would restrict eligibility in the IZ program to the chronically homeless, people with development disabilities, people with severe mental illness, victims of domestic violence, and people living with HIV/AIDS with incomes up to 80 percent of area median income, or $57,960. This means a developer can charge up to $1,438 a month in rent for a studio apartment.
To read the complete testimony, click here.