Housing Complex

Think D.C. Affordable Housing is Bullshit?

At least some of you do given the comments I've read in the past few months:

On affordable condo re-sales:

Inclusionary Zoning is great for the most part, but for residents who “purchase” a unit, they’re screwed. 20 year restrictions on resale is absurd. What happens to this low or moderate person when they need to sell their unit? They walk away with nothing and they will be forced to become renters again. Typically of this Administration, all show, no substance. Some plan…

On what's considered "affordable" housing in this city:

Ft. Totten Station calls it’s $1300 one bedrooms affordable. For whom? I can’t afford that as a federal attorney! We need rent caps. Now.

On affordable building developers: 

Blue Skye did a piss poor job “redeveloping” the Marley Ridge Condos near Benning Rd SE. They cut every corner they could by using poorly skilled workers and cheap materials. If you are looking to buy property in DC, steer clear of anything that they were involved in. You will regret it immediately. Blue Skye = Money Pit.

Well now you have your opportunity to complain on record to the  government, though please keep ranting on the comment boards—I don't want to discourage anyone. More below the jump.

 DHCD Seeks Public Opinion About Affordable Housing

(Washington, DC) — The Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) will hold a series of public hearings to provide District of Columbia residents the opportunity to express their opinions concerning affordable housing, special needs housing, homelessness and community development and public service activities in the District of Columbia over the next five years (fiscal years 2011 – 2015).

Public hearings are scheduled for –

  • Thursday, September 17, 2009 at 6:30 p.m. at 441 4th Street NW inside of the Old Council Chamber
  • Wednesday, October 14, 2009 at 6:30 p.m. at 1800 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. SE inside of the DHCD Housing Resource Center; conference room
  • Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 6:30 p.m. at 3939 Benning Road NE inside of the Marshall Heights Community Development Organization
  • Thursday, November 19, 2009 at 6:30 p.m. at 2000 14th Street, NW; Reeves Center, 2nd floor conference room

District of Columbia residents who would like to present oral testimony are encouraged to register in advance either by e-mail at www.dhcdevents@dc.gov or by calling (202)442-7251. Please provide your name, address, telephone number, and organization affiliation, if any.

Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD) relay service is available by calling (800)201-7165. A sign language interpreter will be provided upon request by calling (202)442-7251 five days prior to the hearing date.

Residents who require language interpretation should specify which language (Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese-Mandarin/Cantonese, Amharic, or French). Interpretation services will be provided to pre-registered persons only. Deadline for requiring services of an interpreter is five days prior to the hearing date. Bilingual staff will provide services on an availability basis to walk-ins without registration.

Written statements may be submitted at the hearing, or until 4:45 p.m. on Friday, December 11, 2009, and should be addressed to — ATTN: Leila Finucane Edmonds, Director, Department of Housing and Community Development, 1800 Martin Luther King Jr., Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20020.

  • Jason

    I think affordable housing in bullshit. Apparently not for the reasons you do.

    I lived with college friends and craiglist people my first 8 years after college to keep my rents low. That allowed me to keep my housing expenditures (rents) low and pay off student loans and save a housing downpayment as I worked my way up the salary ladder. I did everything right and was able to buy a condo in Penn Quarter last year.

    But ever since I moved to DC all I hear is people who want shortcuts to affordable housing. If you don't make much money live with roommates instead of living alone. If you don't have 10% to put down you probably should be renting rather than buying. Easy credit and an instant gratification society are making this country lazy... that's what is bullshit...

  • http://selalewis.com Sela

    Yes, I agree Jason. I think people should know the responsibility and reward that comes with home ownership. I grew up in house that my parents still live in for the past twenty years. But for the first eight years of my life, I grew up in an apartment. My mother worked very hard, saved her money, kept her credit clean, and got financing on a good house.

    However, we live in different times when it comes to the housing market. Many old buildings are renovated and resold at prices that are so high, people have to borrow more than they can afford. Instead of delaying gratification, many have chosen to gamble where they live. The culture of instant gratification makes it much harder for those who have more than saved for a home.

    Your choice to live with others and work your way up is commendable, but not unusual. Many people do what you have done-everyday-and still have trouble making it to the next rung on the ladder. The reasons are numerous, but having an unaffordable home-whether it is a house, condo, apartment, or bedroom-should not be one of them.

  • JackAsk

    Why? I firmly believe that affordable housing (how both vague and misleading this is for the District), is the only way a lot of residents in the District can manage to live in the City. Rents are astronomical and home prices are just absurd. An affordable unit is anything under $300k. Three Hundred Thousand Dollars. Now to save up 10 or 20 percent to put down, how long will that take a person who earns 60%(about $60k a year) or less of the Area Median Income? DC has the lowest homeownership rate in the entire country, 47%, and the City Government isn't doing much to help increase this. Now, everyone is quick to blame the subprime crisis and eventual meltdown (especially City Officials and Policymakers) on low and moderate-income borrowers, many of whom happen to be minorities. In reality, the majority of subprime borrowers were actually were white middle-income borrowers. Exploring the affordable housing arena, the actual default rate for a person who does participate in a program like HPAP, is relatively low. This is exactly because of the process Sela's mother took to become a homeowner. These folks aren't given hand-outs, they have to work for this assistance that they will eventually have to repay back to the City. Now, with the budget crisis and policymakers thinking alone the same lines as some of you all, HPAP and other valuable housing resources are at risk. Research the program's track record, notice the low default rate (less than 1%), and then pass your judgments.

    As you all can tell, I'm gung-ho in favor of affordable housing, especially homeownership. The thing that I was most irritated with is the long-term resale restrictions attached to these "affordable units". It's just horrible public policy that will further concentrate poverty...

  • Nathan

    Jason- affordable housing isn't just about you. There are other people in this city in other situations. Not everybody's coming out of college, or has the option of renting a room with pals. In fact many, many people aren't going to be moving up any "salary ladder", either.
    Many, if not most, city residents have little to no opportunity to cut corners and save up- they're struggling to meet each month's bills. For instance, how much of your 8 years of scrimping and saving was spent seriously worrying about getting enough money for the rent, or about getting sick or injured be cause you have no insurance?

    Most affordable housing is focused on families, and on those making under $30K. Somebody's got to serve our meals and press our shirts and take out our trash, etc. I don't think those folks are irresponsible for expecting to live someplace reasonably decent within an hr or so of their work.

    If affordable housing isn't an issue for you, I'm glad- but you should be aware that it's not just because you're virtuous and everybody else is a lazy slob. It sounds to me like the folks asking for someplace (anyplace) to live for under $1,200/mo. aren't the only ones who feel a bit too entitled.

  • Jason

    "Many, if not most, city residents have little to no opportunity to cut corners and save up"

    So your solution is to subsidize "many or most" of the cities residents. Believe it or not I am a democrat and strongly dislike the socialist label being cast at Obama. However no social subsidization program should be directed at "many or most" residents. That IS socialism. It's unfortunate that DC was such a poor city before this recent wave of gentrification. I think Bread for the City recently estimated that 200,000 citizens live below the poverty line. That's rough. But the solution isn't for the other 350K residents to raise them above the poverty line. That's an unsustainable ratio. Who we help has to be much more targeted than that. For many people the laws of Darwinism need to set in.

  • Sir Spicious

    Most affordable housing is definitely not aimed at families with income under $30K. $50K-$75K is more accurate. I agree that communities are more attractive when there is a range of incomes living there. However, I don't think that someone that has there living situation subsidized deserves (or has a right) to gain upside in the short term through sale. So subsidized apartments - yes; subsidized condos/houses - no.

  • Downtown Condo resident

    I agree with Sir Spicious. I live at one of the new condos downtown that has 20% affordable housing. Some of my neighbors who seem to be participating in the affordable housing program are young single people working in GSA jobs not families with HoH's who have modest incomes. Those GSA folks will progress up the salary ladder, perhaps get married and add another income, yet retain the same subsidized mortgage. That's a sham.

    Affordable housing in highly desirable locations like downtown DC should be rentals. That will allow individuals to continue to be evaluated against the criteria at lease renewal time. Additionally, it does not tie people who made the biggest investment of their lives with individuals who have their mortgages paid by government. It's not fair to ask resident owned buildings have the extra task of managing subsidized units. Let a for profit apartment company managed those subsidize properties and the extra bureaucracy and concerns they bring...

  • JackAsk

    Ok Jason, this is all and well for you to make the statements from where you are, but let's say you were to be put into a financial reality similar to one of those 200k. Now, apply the laws of Darwinism to your life and see where the fruck you would end up. You don't understand these programs but assume subsidies equates to socialism. Well, if that's the freaking logic, then our entire banking system and major financial institutions are now socialized. So why don't you try to walk into a Chevy Chase and see if they share with you.
    Affordable housing and the programs associated with it in the District represents only 3 percent of our City's total budget. 3 percent. Then we have ass-clowns like you coming in and claiming, without any facts to back up your statements, that we're a socialist City because of these programs.
    A lot of these families don't really want to live one of these fancy new condos with a ton of amenities; they simply do not have the financial resources or economic mobility to keep pace with a rapidly gentrified City. So a resident who has lived in Thomas Circle for 30 years must now relocate to someplace in Southeast because some yuppie thinks offering a helping hand is too much for the City to handle. You won't be singing this tune if you were in their situation buddy...

  • Go to PG

    @AskJack - I'd prefer they move to PG County.

  • Sean

    There is a 24 year old single male named Aron Kebrab who lives at City Vista who purchased an affordable housing unit for roughly $150K. I don't know what he does for a living or what he makes I often see him in the hallway in a suit and tie. I'd guess he is in consulting or works on the hill. Don't let people tell you all these affordable housing units are going to families or firefighters, etc...

  • Typical DC BS

    By the way, let's not forget the purely socialistic aspect of rent control in DC. How many cities (I can only think of DC and NY) have rent control? If that's not a pure definition of socialism / communism as applied to real estate, I don't know what is. Nice that the government gets to decide what you charge for rent increases, rather than the market.

  • http://none Al

    Hey stop picking on us GSA types!

  • JackAsk

    How many people live in rent controlled buildings in the District currently? You guys all make the absurd claims that because a tiny fraction of the City budget and policies exist to help low and moderate income people live in the City, that the Government's all of sudden gone to socialism/communism. I guess you since you don't know what the definition is and can't explain it clearly enough, then it's ok for your position. What a load of crock. If we had to live without some constraints to rental pricing, who would have really been able to afford living in the District from 2004-2008? If even mom and pop developer/investor had their way, they would have charged astronomical fees for rents in the City, but they couldn't (for the most part) and who benefited from it, not just the po folks, but the rest of the City residents...

  • http://selalewis.com Sela

    I should note that-like a lot of other residents-I am not from here, and that my mother was not given special assistance from the District of Columbia.

  • joe blow

    If Barry wants to make housing affordable, then do it for all, or not at all. What's this
    $700k cap all about? What about the sorry sucker that's above that cap, and could save their home with this plan....huh? Strings attached, and the poor get richer, and the rich get poorer in spite of us paying through our noses for the lazy assed less fortunate whom leach off the system. Fuck you Barry, I did not vote for you, and now I know why! Go to hell mr one term fluke, and stay there you lying slick talking son of a bitch!!!

  • Dorothy

    I agree with some of the comments, however there was one post by "Sean" that I found disturbing. Stereotyping a "24 year old single male" in your building by their clothing definitely says a lot about you. How do you know that this person is not a volunteer firefighter? Have you gotten to know this person? Just because a person wears a suit and tie does categorize into "onsulting or works on the hill" For all you know this person can be earning $20k a year.

  • http://www.uspto.gov Devon Wei

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