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Mayor Anthony A. Williams’ Housing Initiative Preservation, Rehabilitation and Production
April 2, 2001




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Mayor Anthony A. Williams' Housing Initiative Preservation, Rehabilitation and Production

Washington's economic resurgence has brought new life and opportunities to the city and its neighborhoods. During the last year, numerous new housing developments were constructed across the city and an influx of small businesses and corporations recognized the benefits of operating in Washington. In Fiscal Year 2000, the Department of Housing and Community Development alone invested about $33.9 million in funds into our city's Wards for housing and economic development activities, leveraging $226.3 million in funds from the private sector.

However, the revival has brought pressures on the city's housing market, especially on affordable housing. Longtime residents are seeing their rents and property taxes increase, sometimes forcing them to move out of their homes. The rising land values and construction costs make it difficult for affordable housing developers to finance new projects. In addition, owners of federally subsidized rental housing are assessing the booming real estate market and considering converting their properties into market-rate housing.

To meet the demand for affordable housing in Washington's changing housing market, Mayor Anthony A. Williams is significantly expanding the District's housing initiative, building on current efforts to create and maintain homes for low- and moderate-income homeowners and renters. The initiative is aimed at protecting existing affordable housing and reducing displacement, converting vacant and dilapidated buildings into new housing, and promoting new housing for people of all incomes.

As part of the housing initiative, Mayor Williams proposed an omnibus housing bill, entitled "Housing Preservation, Rehabilitation, and Production Omnibus Amendment Act of 2001." The bill proposes dedicating approximately $10 million a year for new affordable housing and proposes property tax relief for low-income, long-term homeowners. It also proposes new tools to rehabilitate vacant and deteriorated properties, modifications to the Homestead Program, and tax incentives for the construction of new housing.

The District government will continue financing the construction and rehabilitation of rental and ownership housing; providing down payment and closing cost assistance to first-time homebuyers; and supporting community and neighborhood-based initiatives.

Three primary goals of the Mayor's Housing Initiative:

  • Protect existing affordable housing and prevent displacement,
  • Convert vacant and dilapidated buildings into new housing, and
  • Promote new housing for people of all income levels.

Protect Existing Affordable Housing and Prevent Displacement

  1. Support low-income, long-term homeowners - limit low-income, long-term homeowners' property tax increases to no more than five percent a year.
  2. Notify the District and residents of expiring use - require owners of federally subsidized housing to notify their tenants and the District nine months before transforming properties into market-rate housing.
  3. Provide targeted historic housing tax credits - provide working-class homeowners an income tax credit for up to 25 percent of the cost of rehabilitating their historic homes.

Convert Vacant and Dilapidated Buildings into New Housing

  1. Update the rehabilitation building subcode - establish a committee to study and draft anew rehabilitation subcode based on effective subcodes from other major cities.
  2. Streamline the demolition process - provide the District government the authority and an effective mechanism for demolishing and boarding-up deteriorated properties.
  3. Modify quick take provisions - define more clearly the District's authority to "take" certain abandoned and deteriorated properties and resell them for housing and economic development purposes.
  4. Modify the Homestead program - expand the Homestead Housing Preservation Program to allow disposition for use as rental housing, establish a Homestead Repayment Fund, and allow the program to accept unsolicited proposals for properties in the Homestead inventory.

Promote New Housing for People of All Income Levels

  1. Expand the Housing Production Trust Fund - dedicate about $10 million a year for affordable housing.
  2. Modify the commercial/housing linkage formulas - establish new linkage formulas that allow discretionary commercial development to contribute $3 -$4 per square foot to the Housing Production Trust Fund for affordable housing.
  3. Establish an inclusionary development policy- require new residential developers who build on District-owned land, are subsidized with public money, or request zoning relief, to set-aside at least ten percent of the units for low- and moderate-income families.*
  4. Provide tax abatement incentives for new residential developments throughout the city and new homeownership opportunities in Enterprise Zones (EZs) - abate 50 percent of the property taxes for ten years for new multiunit housing developments in certain downtown "housing priority areas," abate 75 percent or 100 percent of the property taxes for ten years for new mixed-income housing developments (depending on how many units are affordable), abate 50 percent of the taxes for five years for new homeowners in EZs.
  5. Modify the combined lot program - modify combined lot zoning regulations to allow commercial developers to escrow money that can be accessed when a building permit is issued for housing development.*

*This is not a part of the omnibus bill, but is part of the Mayor's Housing Initiative.

For more information about the Housing Preservation, Rehabilitation, and Production Omnibus Amendment Act of 2001, please call one of the following District government officials:

Paul Cohn
Department of Housing and Community Development
801 North Capitol Street, NE
Washington, D.C. 20002
(202) 442-7233

Scott Barkan
Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development
441 4th Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20001
(202) 7272981

Gina Douglas
Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
941 North Capitol Street, NE
Washington, D.C. 20002
(202) 442-8933

Government of the District of Columbia
Mayor Anthony A. Williams

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