- The Washington, DC Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) has issued a request for proposals (RFP) from housing specialists looking to "produce and preserve" affordable housing units in the District. DHCD is offering gap financing to selected proposals, providing such proposals will make at least 5% of the units in the new or rehabilitated properties for permanent supportive housing.
- The RFP coincides with the new "Small Building Grants Program," which will provide up to $200,000 in funds to small building owners wishing to make repairs to their properties where at least 50% of residents make 80% of the median family income or less.
- "As our city continues to grow, my Administration is committed to investing in the programs and policies that give Washingtonians across all eight wards access to safe and affordable housing," Mayor Muriel Bowser said in a statement.
While the homelessness rate in the nation's capital has been on a significant decline over the past two years — figures show the number of homeless people in DC dropped 7.6% from 2017 an 17.3% from 2016 — the issue is still one that plagues the city and other metro hubs across the country. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) found that 553,742 people experienced homelessness in 2017, and as some tech-focused cities like Seattle and San Francisco experience growing affordability crises, that number may continue to climb.
Bowser has put a spotlight on the issue of housing affordability during her term as mayor and, in March, she appointed the city's first Affordable Housing Preservation Officer, Ana Lopez Van Balen. At the time, DHCD Director Polly Donaldson touted Lopez Van Balen's robust skill set including community outreach and data management, which can be a crucial tool as more tech comes online to combat housing crises.
Bowser also recently joined more than a dozen mayors and CEOs to launch the Mayors and CEOs for U.S. Housing Investment, which aims to advance public-private partnerships that tackle affordable housing and homelessness. The group recommends four policy changes to help stabilize the current housing outlook: maximize funding for existing federal programs; issue new, competitive HUD-HIIRO grants; build on the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing model through HUD-PASS; and create a housing stabilization fund to provide short-term emergency housing assistance.
"As leaders across the country work to tackle these issues, we recognize that the best thing we can do for our residents and communities is to come together, share our solutions and investments, and support and multiply the programs and ideas that are working," Bowser said in a statement regarding the coalition.