Request to create an Affordable Housing Property Acquisition Fund in FY 2023 Budget
Updated: Jul 4, 2022
The following letter was sent by Meg Maguire, Chair of NWOP Community Development Corporation and Margaret Dwyer, Convenor of Ward 3 Housing Justice to the DC Council:
We are committed to achieving Mayor Bowser’s goal of 1990 new units of affordable housing in Rock Creek West by 2025. However, with little public land available and a rapidly moving real estate market that far outpaces the time-consuming process for approval of affordable housing proposals, this goal will be impossible to meet.
Therefore, to enable the city to acquire property to create permanently affordable, family-sized and deeply affordable rental units, as well as limited equity cooperatives to foster home ownership, we request that Council allocate $100 million in the FY 2023 budget to acquire property to construct 1500 units of permanently affordable housing in planning areas with high land costs and high needs for affordable housing as defined by HANTA (Tax Abatements for Affordable Housing in High Needs Areas): Rock Creek East, Rock Creek West, Capitol Hill, and Upper Northeast. Precedents exist in DC law for many of the specific provisions necessary to structure the proposed program including land acquisition, pre-qualification of criteria-based development teams, eminent domain, dedicated revenue bonds, and requirements for permanent affordability including covenants and land trusts. See also NYC Acquisition Fund.
Long-time city residents who work in Ward 3 cannot afford to live here, thus perpetuating historic racial and economic inequities. New development in the Ward 3 pipeline will not provide enough housing for the additional workers who will fill the new jobs. For example, Wegmans at City Ridge, just one of many new businesses, is creating 450 full- and part-time jobs with only 56 units of affordable housing. Unless and until the city has budgeted land acquisition funds, it will not be able to act rapidly and intentionally to acquire additional land for affordable housing. Current housing policies and programs alone are inadequate:
While Inclusionary Zoning (IZ) will produce some affordable housing, most units will be studio or one- bedroom units but will not address the need for family-sized, deeply affordable, or limited equity cooperative housing options. Ex: City Ridge, Mazza Gallerie, Wardman (proposed) will produce a total of only 163 IZ rental units.
Public land on which to create significant amounts of affordable housing is scarce in Ward 3. Without public ownership of the land, permanently affordable housing is not economically possible.
In a robust real estate market, when property goes up for sale it is impossible for majority non-profit housing development teams to assemble deals quickly enough to make a timely offer within the closing window that sellers demand. This is particularly true in Ward 3 where development incentives in the Future Land Use Map (FLUM) are expected to fuel major land speculation along Connecticut and Wisconsin Avenues. Loan programs such as the Housing Production Trust Fund, or tax abatement programs such as HANTA are important housing tools, but they are not structured to acquire additional public land in a timely manner.
Existing city programs do not give preference for residency to long-time DC residents. We propose that preference be given to those who have lived in the city for 10+ years or have been displaced.
We urge Council to create the Affordable Housing Property Acquisition Fund in FY 2023.