Gray, Task Force Unveil Proposals for Affordable Housing
Ten by 20. That's the most ambitious goal laid out by the Comprehensive Housing Strategy Task Force, whose report was unveiled this morning at a press conference by task force members and Mayor Vince Gray.
The "10 by 20" proposal—meaning 10,000 new affordable housing units by 2020—is joined by two other main strategic goals: preserving 8,000 existing affordable units that rely on federal subsidies that are expiring by 2020, and supporting the development of 3,000 market-rate units each year through 2020.
"Our vision is simple and aspirational: The District of Columbia is a city that provides housing that is affordable for all who wish to live and work here," said task force co-chair Deborah Ratner Salzberg, a developer with the firm Forest City.
The report comes a month after Gray committed $100 million to affordable housing in his State of the District speech. Today, Gray described that $100 million as "a beginning" in meeting the task force's goals, though he hasn't committed to all the steps laid out in the report. The $100 million figure would only provide $10,000 per unit if 10,000 units are to be built, far short of the amount required.
I asked Gray if he would try to devote an additional $100 million to affordable housing each year that he remains mayor. "I don't know," he replied. "I don't know what will come down the pike."
Task force co-chair and D.C. Housing Finance Agency Director Harry Sewell said that meeting all of the task force's goals would likely require between $500 million and $1 billion, and that federal tax reform and changes to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could alter the price tag. Sewell called the mayor's $100 million commitment "a wonderful down payment."
Gray created the 36-member task force in February 2012, and it met more than 30 times before writing the report. Gray says he attended "one or two meetings."
Task force member Oramenta Newsome, executive director of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, called for private investors to step up and match the commitments of the city government to affordable housing. "This report was prepared for the city of the District of Columbia, not just the government of the District of Columbia," she said. Newsome said there will be a meeting this afternoon with private-sector investors to try to leverage the city's investment in housing.
Only one physical copy of the report exists, and it now belongs to activist Dorothy Brizill; Gray gave it to her after she pestered him at the press conference for the lack of availability. But the mayor's office has provided me with a PDF; it's below.