Housing Complex

DCHA to Close Waiting List for Public Housing

The D.C. Housing Authority is making it official: If you're hoping to apply for public housing, you're out of luck.

Bread for the City reports that DCHA will close its waiting list for public housing indefinitely by the end of the year. Practically speaking, the move doesn't actually change much. The waiting list for the city's 8,000 public housing units and 12,000 subsidized housing vouchers is already 64,000 names long. It can take more than a decade for a person on the list to receive a voucher or apartment. And preference is given to people exiting homelessness, so nonhomeless people looking for assistance often don't budge on the list as new homeless people move to the top.

DCHA argues, not unreasonably, that the waiting list is an exercise in futility and a drain on the city's budget. Bread for the City counters that the list should stay open as a demonstration of the need for more public housing.

The problem is that the city's leaders appear uncommitted to a significant expansion of public housing. An affordable housing advocate recently told me that "the Gray administration doesn't believe it should fund longterm affordable housing" and has no plans for new public housing. Instead, his "way to tackle the lack of affordable housing is to increase income," treating the problem as one of poverty rather than housing stock.

Ward 8 councilmember Marion Barry has a similar philosophy. "It's all because people don't have any income, or expendable income," he told me last week. He argues that public housing and vouchers simply can't meet demand, so it's better to focus on homeownership, the "lynchpin of the American dream."

"My solution," he says, "is deep government subsidies to help [people own homes]. Deep government subsidies."

When I suggested that it would be inordinately expensive to subsidize homeownership for the 60,000-plus people on the public housing and voucher waitlist, he disputed the figure, claiming it was only about 25,000.

Maybe, after a few years of a closed list, it will be.

  • http://ruseriousingme.blogspot.com/2012/04/us-housing-subsidies-home-mortgage.html ruSERIOUSINGme

    The US Department of Housing and Urban Development has not funded the creation of new Public Housing since 1994 (http://www.hud.gov/progdesc/pdev.cfm), so DC is not unique in that regard, and it's difficult to fault a local politician for that.

  • Cap City Records Panhandler

    This is a single snow flake in the blizzard of news not being reported in the inner-under city of what is really going on.

    What does A. Todman have to say? Did this move come from the EOM?

    LENCHMOB to 640

  • Cap City Records Panhandler

    @ruSERIOUSINGme... Picking pepper out of gnat dung.

    Yeah, public housing is dead but don't tell folks over in Henson Ridge that. Also -- have voucher will travel.

    The construction of large scale public housing dwellings isn't what it used to be but money is still coming from somewhere in the form, of now it's called by HUD...., Choice Neighborhoods. And private money isn't fixing up [where reporters aren't] which is DCHA property.

  • http://www.assetmanagers.co.nz Harcourts Grenadier Accommodation Centre

    What is DCHA? What is the reason of closing the waiting list for public houses?

  • Info

    This article confuses some facts/players, so perhaps some background is useful:

    "Public housing" refers specifically to those units subsidized by the federal government under Section 9 of the Housing Act of 1937. There are other federal programs that have built housing for low-income people, but they are distinct from the public housing program. Additional units of public housing haven't been built in about 30 years, though some older units have been knocked down and replaced since then. The HOPE VI program, an example of which can be found at Henson Ridge, provided large grants to redevelop severely distressed public housing. That program has now been replaced by Choice Neighborhoods, which does largely the same thing.

    Funding the public housing program is the responsibility of the federal government, not DC. Affordable housing built/funded by the DC government is not public housing, and has nothing to do with DCHA. It would be useful for advocates to understand these distinctions, which could then help them to ensure they are lobbying the right people for the right things.

    As for Marion Barry, he has never shown himself to have any grasp whatsoever on policy, and this is no exception.

    DCHA is the District of Columbia Housing Authority, which is not the same thing as the DC Dept of Housing and Community Development.

  • gentrificationkills!!

    DCHA certainly plays a HUGE part in demolishing public housing properties and not providing one for one standard public housing replacements. They go to HUD for the Choice/Hope VI grant money but they in no way care about preserving public housing. Why do they redevelop a property and not allow the original people to return? Why do they redevelop a property and decrease the amount of public housing that was there before. In turn the people in the community are forced to moved to yet another property that will be up for demolition, they'll be displaced again , and again, and again until there is nowhere left for a family needing public housing to go!!! The need for public housing is evident in the loooong list of people!! Public Housing tenants must organize and make DCHA, DC City Council, HUD, and Congress preserve public housing!!!!

  • Tasha

    The real problem is that you have so many criminals committing violations in their section 8 housing and getting away with it. Whether it is selling drugs, selling food stamps, harboring fugitives, etc. These offenders need to cut off the system. Mandatory drug testing needs to be put in place too.

    That would alleviate the problem with housing and give others a chance to use it as a stepping stone.

  • http://www.focuspropertymanagement.com.au Property Management Sydney

    What is the main reason of D.C. Housing Authority to close waiting list for public housing? Property Management Sydney

  • Pingback: What Lies Behind the Plan to Close DC’s Housing Assistance Waiting List? « Poverty & Policy

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