Testimony of Jenny Reed, Policy Director, At the Public Hearing on Bill 20-0594, The Disposition of District Land for Affordable Housing Amendment Act of 2014

Chairperson Bowser and members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify today.  My name is Jenny Reed and I am the Policy Director at 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 how policies impact low- and moderate-income families. 

I am here to testify strongly in favor of Bill 20-594, “The Disposition of District Land for Affordable Housing Amendment Act of 2014.”  The bill would help ensure that DC is using every available resource at its disposal to solve one of its most pressing problems: the significant shortage of affordable housing.  By leveraging the value of our public land, DC can help create new affordable housing for both low- and moderate-income residents throughout the District. 

Furthermore, requiring affordable housing on public land will allow the District to use an off-budget asset ‘ public land ‘ to maximize affordable housing production. Such a tool is particularly important given the District’s limited resources and ability to incur debt. It will also help preserve mixed-income, inclusive neighborhoods in DC, and help ensure that a broad array of DC residents benefit from new development. 

The bill would require an affordable housing set-aside every time private residential development occurs on public land the District has disposed of. The affordable housing would be subsidized by selling the public land for less than its full appraised value. The affordable housing requirements include: 

  • Affordable Housing Set-Asides: In transit oriented areas ‘ within ½ mile of a Metro station or ¼ mile of a major bus route or streetcar line ‘ 30 percent of the housing must be affordable.  In all other areas, 20 percent of the housing must be affordable.  In all cases, the affordable housing will be permanently affordable. 
  • Affordable to Whom? Households will pay no more than 30 percent of their gross income on housing.  For rental units, one-fourth of the affordable units will be affordable to “very low-income” households (those with incomes up to 30 percent of the area median income (AMI), or $29,000 for a family of three) and three-fourths will be affordable to “low-income households” (those with incomes between 30 percent and 50 percent of AMI, or between $29,000 and $48,300 for a family of three). 

For homeownership units, half will be affordable to low-income households (under 50 percent of AMI) and half will be affordable to moderate-income households (for those with incomes between 50 percent and 80 percent AMI or between $48,300 and $78,200 for a family of three).

To read the complete testimony, click here.