Tell DHCD: Use Our Federal Affordable Housing Dollars Right!

As many of us know we are in an affordable housing crisis in Washington D.C. The District has half as many affordable units as it did in 2002. Rents are rising but incomes are not. To change this state of affairs we must advocate for a holistic approach to fight this trend, taking advantage of opportunities to grow our movement in the streets and to voice our concerns and positions to policymakers.

As many of us know we are in an affordable housing crisis in Washington D.C. The District has half as many affordable units as it did in 2002. Rents are rising but incomes are not. To change this state of affairs we must advocate for a holistic approach to fight this trend, taking advantage of opportunities to grow our movement in the streets and to voice our concerns and positions to policymakers. Residents of the District have an opportunity right now to raise our voice as the DC Department of Housing and Community Development submits a new five-year “consolidated plan” to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The plan is supposed to outline how DHCD will spend its federal resources that support various affordable housing and community development initiatives—like technical assistance for small businesses, and rapid rehousing of homeless residents. DHCD administers most of the programs to create, maintain, and rehab affordable housing units, so how it uses its resources has a major role in stemming (or exacerbating) the District’s housing crisis.

DHCD has opened a few avenues for the public to comment, and those of us who want a District of Columbia where housing is a right not a privilege should be heard.

  • This Wednesday, Oct. 28 at 6:30 p.m.: DHCD is holding an informal forum at Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Library (1630 7th St NW in the large meeting room). This is our chance to speak to DHCD managers and make sure they are focusing on our real community development needs, not only those of the rich corporations. Email us at info@justicefirst.org to let us know you’ll attend.
  • Next Wednesday, Nov. 4 at 6:30 p.m.: There will be a public hearing at the Greater Washington Urban League (2901 14th St. NW) where DHCD will hear formal testimony on the issues. Email us at info@justicefirst.org to let us know you'll attend. You can register  in advance either by e-mail at dhcd.events@dc.gov or by calling (202) 442-7203. Please provide your name, address, telephone number, and organization affiliation, if any.
  • Take DHCD’s online survey: Every resident of the District needs to take DHCD’s anonymous online survey. DHCD is asking residents to “express level of need and importance about affordable housing and community development activities in DC.” You can take the survey here. To make taking the survey easier for you we’ve created some points to consider about the survey here. Email us at info@justicefirst.org to let us know you completed the survey, so we can make sure DHCD isn’t ignoring our voice.
  • Submit your own written testimony: You can also submit comments for the record. This is just as important as the survey because you can use your own words to describe the state of affordable housing in D.C., rather than being constrained to DHCD’s questions. It is our opportunity to help frame a vision for a different way of viewing community development in the District. Rather than just answer their questions, we should say what type of future we want. Check here for a sample letter to help guide your written comments and the information on where to send it. Copy us at info@justicefirst.org, so we can help hold DHCD accountable to our comments, and let us know if you’re interested in signing on to Justice First’s comments. From DHCD: "If you wish to provide written comment for the record, please do so by mail or email by close of business Wednesday, November 18, 2015. Written  statements should be mailed to: Polly Donaldson,  Director, DHCD, Attention: Five Year Consolidated Plan Comments, 1800 Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue, Southeast, Washington, DC 20020. Emailed comments should be submitted to dhcd.events@dc.gov with a subject line, 'Five Year Consolidated Plan comments.'”


Thank you, as always for your support for affordable housing in D.C. As rents rise and District residents are pushed out, we need to be a strong, collective voice to remind District officials that D.C. is for the people. We also, of course, can only continue important work on housing and other issues with your help. Please donate to keep this movement moving forward!

 

P.S. Just in case you missed it, check out a Washington Post story featuring our work at Congress Heights!

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