The DC Preservation Network released its report Maintaining Economic Diversity and Affordability: A Strategy for Preserving Affordable Rental Housing in the District of Columbia on March 2, 2015. The report recommends a series of strategies to help the District of Columbia maintain and increase affordable housing options for low- and moderate-income residents, which are rapidly disappearing with new economic development, an influx of new residents into the city, and the stagnant incomes of DC residents at the bottom of the economic ladder. The 10-page report includes background information, case studies, specific policy recommendations, case studies, and discussions of how different public, private, and nonprofit entities can work together to achieve overall goals. A one-page Executive Summary succinctly captures the key points.
The Preservation Strategy Working Group addresses a key issue familiar to many long-term DC residents:
“Over the last decade, DC has lost 50 percent of its low-cost housing units, largely due to rising housing prices. In addition, rising demand for rental housing by new DC residents has outstripped supply at most income levels, which has further contributed to an increase in rents for market rate housing. This continued demand – far above DC’s current production – will make it harder for the lowest income households who struggle to find housing in an increasingly tight market.”
The goals the working group created in response to this crisis include the following:
- 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
The DC Preservation Network is convened by the Coalition for Nonprofit Housing and Economic Development (CNHED) and NeighborhoodInfo DC. Its members include housing counseling organizations, legal services providers, affordable housing developers, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and DC government agencies, including the Department of Housing and Community Development, DC Housing Finance Agency, DC Housing Authority, and the Office of Tenant Advocate. The Network maintains a database of approximately 35,000 assisted (subsidized) affordable rental units and meets monthly to review those properties that may be at risk of losing affordability.