January 2018 DHCD Connection Newsletter

Department of Housing and Community Development Connection

Letter from the DHCD Director

polly D

Greetings Washingtonians, 

The Administration of Mayor Muriel Bowser continues to implement unrivaled strategies to produce and preserve affordable housing in the District. Our latest achievement is the issuance of long-awaited proposed regulations under the District Opportunity to Purchase Act (DOPA).

DOPA gives the Mayor the opportunity to purchase certain rental housing accommodations to preserve their affordability. It is similar to and complementary with the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA), which gives tenants the right to purchase their buildings.

Since its enactment in 2008, DOPA has not had any “teeth” because regulations were needed to make the law functional. That’s why the issuance of the new rules is significant.

Mayor Bowser has charged me with using every tool in our toolbox to make more affordable housing happen for District residents, which includes maximizing the leverage we have through laws like DOPA. As chairperson of the Housing Preservation Strike Force, I led the 18-member team in developing six recommendations to preserve the District’s affordable housing stock—to include issuing DOPA regulations.

We issued that Strike Force recommendation in November 2016, and released the DOPA rules a little over a year later, on December 22, 2017—ending a nine-year wait. We are now in a 30-day public comment period which ends on January 23.* We expect the rules to be finalized in Spring 2018. Shortly thereafter, the Mayor will use this new regulatory power to preserve more affordable housing in the City.

Some may have believed the DOPA regulations would never happen. When it comes to getting affordable housing for District residents, however, Mayor Bowser and the DHCD team are committed to removing the word “never” from our vocabulary, and to using every possible resource to make affordable housing happen.

Polly Donaldson, DHCD Director 

Follow me on Twitter @maryrandolph

*There is still time to provide written comment on the rules. Send them before January 23 to Danilo Pelletiere, DHCD, 1800 Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue SE, Washington, D.C. 20020, or dopa.input@dc.gov.

Vacant to Vibrant DC

Director Donaldson takes questions during Jan. 9 informational meeting at the Reeves Municipal Center.

It Was Standing Room Only at Three Vacant to Vibrant DC Events

Over 450 persons attended three informational meetings to learn more about Mayor Bowser’s Vacant to Vibrant DC initiative. Each meeting—on January 9, 10 and 16—was standing room only, and in one case, attendees were sitting on the floor. This shows the extremely high level of interest in this five-point action plan to transform the agency’s vacant property inventory into nearly 70 units of workforce housing—representing over 150 residents—help to maintain green space, teach how tiny homes can fit into the DC landscape and spur more $5 million in economic development for small businesses.

The attendees represented a variety of groups—real estate investors, real estate agents, community representatives, homeowners and future home buyers. No matter what their category, attendees were most interested in Action 1—Auctioning Off to Gain Affordability: An online auction by Alex Cooper Auctioneers of approximately 35 sites that will be redeveloped into workforce housing. The question and answer sections at all three events were robust, with questions ranging from specifics on the bidding process and how homeowners and buyers can participate, to the potential for new programs that would further spur homeownership.

The January 16 meeting was focused completely on the auction, which begins tomorrow at 1 pm and ends January 23 at 1 p.m. A copy of the PowerPoint presentation is on our website, and the entire meeting is available for viewing.

v 2 v 2

Those meetings were not the only ones on our Vacant to Vibrant DC agenda. Deputy Mayor Brian Kenner and Director Donaldson participated in a Facebook Live overview of the plan. Director Donaldson paid a separate visit to the January meeting of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 7C to answer their questions, because several properties are located in the Deanwood neighborhood of Ward 7.


Housing Spotlight


Living Steps from Nationals Park, Thanks to IZ Program

The small, dimly light basement apartment didn’t suit Kal Peete. To her, the place always felt cramped and cold, but it was affordable.

Although the surrounding neighborhood had a quaint charm, it lacked retail options within walking distance. The closest Metro stations being a mile away didn’t help either.

“I had limited access to restaurants, retail stores or grocery stores,” said Peete, a mother of a three-year-old child. After exploring her options, she enrolled in the IZ program and was chosen at random to live in a new constructed one-bedroom apartment at First Residences in the Navy Yard neighborhood.

“Now, l live a block away from [Nationals Park], in a spacious one-bedroom apartment with unlimited natural light," said Peete. “When I walk out of my building, I have my pick from several restaurants and retail stores that are within steps or blocks from my home.”

DHCD uses a lottery process to randomly select households meeting income restrictions and other criteria on a rolling basis as units become available.When units became available at First Residences, Peete quickly entered her name into the lottery and fortunately had her name picked.

“The IZ program has enabled me to upgrade my family's lifestyle at a cost I can afford,” she said. “Best of all, I only have to walk one block to the nearest Metro station or bus stop.”

Over $2.5M in HPTF Financing Will Preserve Affordable Housing in Ward 5

Mayor Bowser announced that DHCD provided $2.57 million in Housing Production Trust Fund (HPTF) financing to Tivoli Gardens LLC for the acquisition of a 49-unit apartment building at 4811 North Capitol Street, NE.

The tenant association assigned its right to purchase the building to the developer, which will allow them to remain in affordable housing units.

“By continuing our historic investments in the Housing Production Trust Fund and using laws like the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act, we can preserve our existing housing stock while getting more Washingtonians keys to their own home,” said Mayor Bowser.

Thirty-seven affordable units will be available for households at or below $66,180 (60 percent of MFI) and remain affordable for no less than 40 years; eight units will be available for households at or below $55,150 (50 percent of MFI ); and four units will be available for households at or below $33,090 (30 percent of MFI).

January 2018 Edition

Inclusionary Zoning Regulations Are Final

Final regulations implementing changes to the Inclusionary Zoning (IZ) program were published in the DC Register on Friday, December 29, 2017The final regulations are substantially identical to earlier rules issued in proposed and emergency form on September 1, 2017, except for several simplifications and clarifications.

Affordable Housing RFP Closes February 14

We love affordable housing, so it’s appropriate that February 14 marks the deadline for developers to apply under DHCD’s request for proposals (RFP) regarding projects that will produce and preserve affordable housing for District residents.The Fall 2017 RFP prioritizes preservation and production projects that will primarily serve households earning below 30 percent of the Median Family Income (MFI, $33,090 in 2017) or between 31 percent-50 percent of MFI ($34,193 to $55,150 in 2017). Projects that include Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) units will be given great consideration. All proposals must be submitted in DHCD’s online submission system.


Over $1.91M in HPAP/ EAHP Goes to 33 Households in December

In December, 33 households in the District received more than $1.91 million in down payment and closing cost assistance to become first-time homeowners. Congratulations to our newest Home Purchase Assistance Program (HPAP) and Employer Assisted Housing Program (EAHP) recipients!

Quick Links

Here are some links to popular DHCD services:


Our Video Story 

Check out our video, which tells a great visual story of how we are helping residents by producing and preserving affordable housing, and revitalizing neighborhoods, in the District.