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D.C.’s FY 2018 budget, the housing highlights

From preserving affordable housing to offering lawyers free of charge for eviction proceedings

John A. Wilson Building.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons/Awiseman

This Tuesday, the D.C. Council approved the city’s $13.8 billion budget for the 2018 fiscal year, despite disagreement from council members on cuts to the budget that could be spent on social programs. On June 13, the Council will vote again on the budget, which will later take effect on October 1.

The approved budget included a paid-family-leave program for private-sector workers, increased spending on schools, and an increase to the hotel-occupancy tax. Despite this year’s drama on tax cuts for businesses and wealthy homeowners, there were still highlights worth sharing, especially regarding affordable housing and homelessness.

Washington City Paper reported that the D.C. Council approved Mayor Muriel Bowser’s annual investment of $100 million to the Housing Production Trust Fund, a permanent, revolving fund that produces affordable housing for low- and moderate-income households. The D.C. Council also approved a separate $10 million fund that will preserve existing affordable housing units.

Reforms to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program were approved. The TANF program offers over 15,000 low-income families funds, job training, and childcare services. The Council decided to eliminate an eligibility “cliff” that would have cut off nearly 6,000 families from the benefits after five years of enrollment.

$500,000 of the budget will go towards funding housing for youth transitioning out of foster care. There will be an increase in the number of emergency shelter beds, transitional housing units, permanent supportive housing units, and reunification/aftercare spots. According to the Washington City Paper, these funds will lead to approximately 100 more housing vouchers and $250,000 in funding for tutoring services.

The Housing Authority’s Local Rent Supplement Program, which provides subsidies to families who make less than 30 percent of the area median income, will get an additional $3.4 million. At least 200 affordable housing units for low-income families will be created, thanks to these funds.

In order to prevent substandard housing conditions at properties owned by D.C. landlords, funding was approved for four housing code and construction code inspectors that will work under the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.

Furthermore, $4.5 million was approved for a pilot program that would offer low-income residents a lawyer at no cost for eviction proceedings. Those who would be eligible for the program are D.C. residents who make up to 200 percent of the poverty line, or approximately $24,000 per year for one person or $48,000 per year for a household of four people.

Washington City Paper further reported that the new budget has allocated $500,000 to the Office of the Tenant Advocate in order to establish a "user-friendly, internet-accessible, [and] searchable ... rent-control clearinghouse." This will also track how many rent-controlled units exist in the city.

D.C. Council Advances Budget With Significant Housing and Homeless Investments [Washington City Paper]

Council Keeps Tax Cuts In Place While Passing $13.8 Billion Budget [DCist]

D.C. Council approves $13.8 billion budget, keeping tax cuts in place [The Washington Post]

D.C. Council votes for expansive paid family and medical leave for private-sector workers. [The Washington Post]