February 2019 DHCD Connection Newsletter

Department of Housing and Community Development Connection

Letter from the DHCD Director


Greetings Washingtonians, 

We are developing bold, innovative, and grand (BIG) solutions to affordable housing challenges, nationally, regionally, and locally—with Mayor Bowser providing crucial leadership.

National experts say the District has more tools than any other U.S. city, so it makes sense that the Mayor, as chair of the National League of Cities (NLC) Housing Task Force, is leading a group of civic leaders that are shaping national public policy priorities.


On January 22 and 23, the Mayor hosted the NLC Task Force during its inaugural meeting at the John A. Wilson Building (JAWB). The group ratified five national priorities for 2019: (1) community-focused approaches; (2) land use; (3) regional and holistic planning; (4) federal resources; and (5) local housing tools. To stress the importance of #5, several DHCD staffers and I led task force representatives on a tour of three projects that showcased how District programs produce and preserve affordable housing.

These programs are paying off for District residents—the Mayor’s administration delivered an unprecedented 7,000+ units in her first term. Yet our population is still growing, and individuals and families still on average pay more of their income on housing than they did 10 years ago. 

So for term 2, Mayor Bowser is shifting the conversation from affordable housing programs to a broader discussion on housing affordability. This means setting bigger housing production and preservation goals—both regionally and locally—to ease the housing crunch so that our residents can take less money out of their wallets for rent and mortgages. The Mayor challenged the region to produce 240,000 additional units by 2025, with DC contributing 36,000 units—at least 12,000 of which will be affordable housing.

polly and andrew

The Mayor’s housing team—including the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED), DHCD and the Office of Planning (OP)—is working on an implementation plan for her vision, and is collaborating closely with regional partners from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG). We also are asking YOU—residents and stakeholders—to think hard about how you will be part of the solution, so that more individuals and families have a Fair Shot in the District of Columbia.

I look forward to working with you!

Polly Donaldson, DHCD Director

Follow me on Twitter: @maryrandolph

Roots to Roofs

Inclusionary Zoning Makes Finding Affordable Housing
In the District Possible, Says Ward 6 Resident


Kisha Anderson left her hometown of Richmond over 15 years ago for the District, looking for better opportunities for herself and her son. She was able to live in several areas of the city, but at each location the rent would drastically go up and become unaffordable to her.  

She really wanted to continue living in the District, so when she heard about the Inclusionary Zoning (IZ) program, she took the required class. Within five months she was selected for an apartment in the Navy Yard neighborhood of Ward 6, just one block from her job with the DC Department of Transportation.

“Finding affordable housing and having a job within the District can be possible,” said Kisha. “It does take a lot of patience, but I would really like to encourage the residents of the District that it can happen if you really put forth effort to make it happen.”


Mayor Bowser Cuts The Baldwin Ribbon and Announces Record 7,200 Affordable Housing Units

At the February 5 ribbon cutting ceremony for the Baldwin Apartments in Ward 6, Mayor Bowser announced that since 2015, her Administration has produced and preserved a record 7,200 affordable housing units—capable of housing over 16,000 residents.

These units were delivered through DC agency-led projects and many were the result of the IZ and Planned Unit Development (PUD) processes. However, the Mayor emphasized that more needs to be done—and in a bolder way.

“By 2025, we need to produce an additional 36,000 units of housing in the District,” she said. “To do this, we’ve got to be willing to think and act differently. We have to seize opportunities to produce affordable housing; we have double-down on what we know works; and every part of our city needs to play a role in delivering the types of housing our residents need.”

The Baldwin is an 100 percent affordable housing community at 1300 H Street NE, the former site of the R.L. Christian Library. It has 33 units of deeply affordable housing—a mix of units for residents making up to 30 percent of the Median Family Income (MFI, approximately $30,160 a year for a family of four) and up to 50 percent MFI ($58,600 a year). The building includes six three-bedroom, family-sized units, and is in close proximity to the DC Streetcar, bus routes, multiple grocery stores, churches, recreation centers, and restaurants.

The Mayor was joined at the groundbreaking by Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen, Deputy Mayor Brian Kenner, Director Donaldson and community members.

Vacant to Vibrant DC Conservation Effort
Featured in Magazine; APA Shines Spotlight on IZ

A February 4 Chesapeake Bay Journal article emphasizes how the conservation effort under Vacant to Vibrant DC (Action Point #4) is both unique and innovative. DHCD partnered with Casey Trees to place four small parcels of vacant land under a conservation easement, protecting them as urban green space.

“In this case, the city doesn’t get a charitable deduction. It’s just additional protection for the land,” said Casey Trees board member Charles Flickinger. 

The following excerpt further sums up the initiative's benefit to the District:   

The housing department saw in these small parcels the opportunity to contribute to those goals while making the land more functional for both residents and the environment. “A key part of our mission is revitalization,” [DHCD Director] Donaldson said. “The trees, neighborhood by neighborhood, are great investments for the city, and we see that as a way to preserve green space in an urban environment.”

Planning Home, a blog from the American Planning Association (APA), is exploring innovative solutions from communities addressing the housing affordability crisis. As part this process, the blog features case studies of various initiatives, and included our IZ program.

Here's a quote from IZ Manager Gene Bulmash:

IZ took a while to hit its groove, but it's improved over the years and the development community has come to accept it; we're now hoping to produce about 200 units per year.

Other News of Note

Short Valentines Day Videos Shared
How Much We Love Housing DC Residents 

Love Housing

In celebration of Valentines Day 2019, we shared short videos on social media about how much we love housing DC residents using HPAP and IZ. Take a look in case you missed them, and feel free to share to encourage others in their housing search:

  • This IZ video shows how a DC government employee now lives steps from his office and another resident is closer to the Metro, retail and Nationals Park. 
  • In this video, thanks to IZ, a resident now has a shorter commute, and another bought a new home—with the help of HPAP as well! 
  • This HPAP video shares how one resident was spurred to use the program by her beloved father, and in another case, a couple was able to leave their problematic apartment for a new home.
  • In this video, a resident was one of the first to benefit from an increase in HPAP's maximum available assistance, and another was able to get her family out of a cramped apartment. 

February 2019 Edition

budget engagement

Sign up for Mayor Bowser’s
Budget Engagement Forums

Join fellow District residents at budget engagement forums to share your values, priorities, and ideas with the Bowser Administration as the FY 2020 budget is developed:

  • Forum #2: February 23, 10:00 a.m., Deanwood Recreation Center, 1350 49th Street NE
  • Forum #3: February 25, 6:30 p.m., Roosevelt High School, 4301 13th Street NW
  • RSVP for all forums here  

Forum #1 occurred February 21 at the Arthur Capper Community Center.

Dates Set for Performance Oversight Hearings 

It's time for the Performance Oversight Hearings at the DC Council—a great way for the public to provide input on agencies, and learn how they are serving District residents. Here are the dates related to DHCD:

  • February 26, 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.: DHCD and the Housing Production Trust Fund (HPTF) (Public witnesses only), JAWB, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Room 412
  • March 1, 12:00 p.m.: DHCD and the HPTF (Agency testimony only), JAWB 12:00 p.m., Room 412
  • All hearings will be livestreamed at www.dccouncil.us/videos.


March 7: Give Input on 2019 Qualified Allocation Plan
For Tax Credits 

DHCD uses several federal resources to provide gap financing for affordable housing projects—one of them is the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) Program. Federal law requires the District to develop a LIHTC Qualified Allocation Plan (QAP) to ensure the selection of projects that comply with federal law and address, on a priority basis, the District’s housing needs.

DHCD is in the process of drafting its 2019 QAP, and is holding a Questions and Answers Forum to solicit public input on suggestions for the new plan:  

  • Date: Thursday, March 7
  • Time: 10:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
  • Location: DHCD Housing Resource Center
  • RSVP here.

For more details on the QAP process, contact Anna Scallet at anna.scallet@dc.gov.

Dates Now Set for DC Needs Assessment/Fair Housing Hearings 

DHCD is hosting two “Needs Assessment and Fair Housing” hearings in March that will provide opportunities for community input regarding spending priorities for federal entitlement funds and concerns about fair housing.

The needs assessment feedback will help form a basis for developing the District’s draft FY 2020 Annual Action Plan.   

In addition, DHCD is interested in receiving community feedback regarding Fair Housing Impediments in the District as part of our efforts to affirmatively further fair housing and our 2012-2017 Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice (AI).  

Here are the details on the hearings:

  •  Wednesday, March 20, 6:30 p.m., Petworth DC Public Library, 4200 Kansas Avenue NW
  • Thursday, March 28, 6:30 p.m., All Souls Unitarian Church,1500 Harvard Street NW
  • RSVP for the hearings here.

Quick Links


Here are some links to popular DHCD services:


Video Stories


Five homeowners share how it is possible to purchase affordable housing in DC. 


This video shares how we are helping residents by producing and preserving affordable housing, and revitalizing neighborhoods. 


We had great memories from the 10th Annual DC Housing Expo and Home Show. See video clips here and here (the second is thanks to WHUR).