On May 6, The Washington Post reported that the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development was forced to forfeit $15.8 million in the past three years due to missed deadlines. The amount of money returned was higher than any other housing agency in the country. It could have also provided rent vouchers for a year to roughly 1,000 of the city’s poorest families.
The funding originated from the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, which provides seed money to developers who can build or renovate low-income housing. According to The Washington Post, it can provide down-payment assistance to buyers or fund vouchers for families that cannot afford rent.
On WAMU’s Kojo Nnamdi Show, Director of the Department of Housing and Community Development Polly Donaldson said, “I agree with the sentiment that this is shameful and should not have happened, but it has ... We don’t want this to ever happen again.”
In a statement sent to Curbed DC, Donaldson further described the Washington Post article as “misleading.” Donaldson further stated, “The article does not emphasize that the $15 million in returned HOME funds actually expired prior to 2015. These projects were funded and approved by the prior administration and were subsequently found to be ineligible for HOME funds during my first six months in office.”
While D.C. returned the highest amount of HOME funds than any other housing agency in the country, Donaldson said on the Kojo Nnamdi Show, “We are viewed as leaders ... in how to invest local funds.” This is due to Mayor Muriel Bowser committing $100 million every year to D.C.’s Housing Production Trust Fund (HPTF), more than any city per capita in the country. This permanent, revolving fund preserves and develops affordable housing in the District for low- and moderate-income households.
According to The Washington Post, auditors are now trying to build a database that tracks the trust fund’s spending and production levels.
• The D.C. Housing Department forfeited millions as families waited for help [The Washington Post]
• D.C. Is In The Midst Of A Housing Crisis. Is The City Up For The Challenge? [The Kojo Nnamdi Show]