From the Field: District of Columbia Advocates Celebrate Increased Funding for Housing Programs in FY19 Budget

The Council of the District of Columbia voted on May 29 to approve its FY19 budget, increasing funding for housing programs that support extremely low income households. The spending plan provides expanded funding beyond Mayor Muriel Bowser’s (D) initial proposal, constituting a big victory for housing advocates. While some programs enjoy increases from their FY18 allocations, in many cases the Council worked to restore funding against cuts proposed in Ms. Bowser’s budget. The Coalition for Nonprofit Housing and Economic Development (CNHED), an NLIHC state coalition partner, organized in partnership with other community organizations to secure these increases. Most notably, the budget provides $100M for the Housing Production Trust Fund, increases investments in the project-based Local Rent Supplements Program, and increases investments in Permanent Supportive Housing.

The Housing Production Trust Fund (HPTF) is the primary tool the city uses for producing and preserving affordable housing. The HPTF funds homes for low to moderate income households and is required to spend 40% of its dollars on projects for extremely low income households (households living at or below 30% of area median income). The Council approved funding the HPTF at $100M, which is level funding from the amount budgeted for FY18. This is a noteworthy ongoing investment, but advocates indicate it will not be enough funding to support the housing needs of extremely low income renters in DC who face a shortage of more than 30,000 homes.

The spending plan increases funding for the project-based Local Rent Supplement Program (LRSP), a program which supports extremely low income households by providing rental support to households and ongoing subsidies to property owners. This program is particularly important in DC where nearly 40,000 extremely low income residents are severely cost burdened and spend over half of their income on rent and utilities. The increased funding for LRSP will create 75 new vouchers for tenants and 163 new subsidies for affordable homes.

The council also increased funding for Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH), a proven intervention for individuals experiencing chronic homelessness. The final budget allocates $8.35M to create 349 new singles PSH homes. This is a significant increase over the previous year’s allocation of 240 homes.

“Thanks to our relentless advocacy efforts, we were able to achieve several fixes and increases in the FY19 budget,” said Steve Glaude, president and CEO of CNHED. “While there is more work to do, today we are celebrating the advances that this budget represents.”

For more information about advocacy and victories concerning the District of Columbia budget, contact Awesta Sarkash, director of advocacy for CNHED at asarkash@cnhed.org.