Another step forward for affordable housing in D.C.

By Gretchen Greiner-Lott
Vice President
Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

This year has been one of great progress toward increasing the availability of affordable housing in DC.

In February, Mayor Gray announced that the city would build or preserve 10,000 units of affordable housing with a new $100 million investment in support of his “improving the quality of life for our residents” goal. Next came the March release of the Mayor’s Comprehensive Housing Strategy Task Force’s report – Bridges to Opportunity: A New Housing Strategy for D.C. – a tool for D.C. government to address its affordable housing challenges through 24 recommended action items. And most recently, the Mayor re-instituted the D.C. Housing Production Trust Fund (HPTF) Advisory Board, which is tasked with analyzing the report’s action items and advising the government on the implementation of those strategies.

WRAG members Craig Pascal of BB&T and Jacki Prior of the Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, along with David Bowers, Stanley Jackson, Sue Ann Marshall, Oramenta Newsome, James D. Knight, Robert Pohlman, and David J. Roodberg, were tapped for the HPTF Advisory Board. Last week, these members were sworn in by the Mayor at a ceremony in the Wilson Building.

As Mayor Gray stated, “This board is critical to ensuring that all the needs of District residents are met, and that we are efficiently progressing towards my goal of developing or preserving 10,000 affordable units by the year 2020.” Including members of philanthropy in this work will be key in helping the government to understand how best to engage philanthropy, overall. As Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services BB Otero indicated, foundations will be particularly helpful in figuring out the human services side of the housing equation.

Deputy Mayor Otero will work closely with the HPTF Advisory Board, as will both the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) and the Director of the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). All three were present at the ceremony and were supportive yet pragmatic regarding the challenges ahead. Deputy Mayor Victor Hoskins told the group that “this is about how $100 million generates a quality of life for a whole section of our community that doesn’t have that.” And DHCD Director Michael Kelly reminded everyone that “The work we do is difficult but incredibly important.”