Will Affordable Housing Survive?
From shrinking federal budgets to HUD diminishing its affordable housing footprint, nonprofits and local agencies tasked with increasing affordable housing in the DC region are dealing with more challenges than the US soccer team trying to win the World Cup.
The Housing Association of Nonprofit Developers brought together heads of housing and community development departments from all over the DC region yesterday for its annual conference in the nation's capital. Prince William's Eric Brown says the county is making up for federal funding cuts by being more strategic in where it directs resources. It targeted six neighborhoods where funds will have the greatest impact. It’s also looking for development deals that can move fast and it’s adding to the housing authority’s revenue stream by looking at the possibility of issuing bonds. Arlington's David Cristeal says the county's trust fund, supplemented by private developers, is at an all-time high. It helped preserve 6,200 market-rate affordable housing units in the Columbia Pike neighborhood.
DC's Mike Kelly says a way to deal with the massive amount of affordable housing needed in the region by 2032 is to identify the healthiest pockets based on jobs, housing, and schools and target them as areas for affordable housing development. Real estate in those spots isn’t expensive now but it will be as transportation projects like the Silver and Purple lines develop. Moderator and Maryland Department of Housing & Community Development secretary Ray Skinner says the displacement of low-income residents by new projects around transit has been a big regional issue.
Montgomery's Rick Nelson says the county partnered with Prince George’s and the University of Maryland to study how to preserve and increase affordable housing and increase opportunities for small business along the Purple line. It’s not easy because of the opportunities the new stations offer for developers. Rick says it will require a different kind of partnership with the private sector to figure out how they can participate in the upside of redevelopment along these transit lines while preserving or increasing the number of affordable housing units. Alexandria's Mildrilyn Davis says a $150M fund will replenish 800 affordable housing units demolished in the city.
Fairfax County is taking advantage of HUD’s new rental assistance demonstration program, which offers new funding tools for rehabbing affordable housing. The county's Paula Sampson says it applied to convert 1,060 affordable units but submitted the application after the 60,000 unit cap for the program was met. (Applications are on a waiting list and HUD anticipates the cap will be lifted.) Fairfax has 200 public housing units scattered and the RAD program allows them to be moved closer to other affordable housing units. Paula says it’s not a perfect program but it’s the future.