Loose Lips

Initiative Would Force City to Provide Housing to Anyone Making Less Than $40,000

Supporters of an initiative legalizing marijuana in D.C. say they'll turn in their proposed ballot language by the end of the week. But pot might not be the only issue on the ballot in November, with the Board of Elections meeting today to consider putting up for a vote an initiative that would guarantee housing to District residents.

If it wins ballot approval and passes in the fall, the Right to Housing Act of 2014 would require the District to provide housing for anyone who's homeless or makes less than $40,000 a year. If the District couldn't provide housing to someone, they could sue the city.

The initiative is being considered two months after Vince Gray announced a plan to build 3,200 affordable housing units.

"Last year, the city said they had a $400 million surplus," said witness Michael Coleman, who said he's struggled with homelessness. "Well, that means nothing to me."

Unfortunately for the initiative's backers, their chances of winning approval from the board look slim. Initiatives can't force the District to appropriate money, which building enough housing to guarantee shelter for anyone earning less than $40,000 would certainly require.

DCBOE spokeswoman Tamara Robinson wasn't sure when the board would have a decision on the initiative, but board chair Deborah Nichols all but acknowledged that the initiative didn't meet the rules to get on the ballot.

"I understand that we are limited in what we can do, but we will certainly do everything within our power and authority," Nichols told the activists.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • Scott

    Fascinating idea, especially since the rent is too damn high. I thought there was a rule that ballot initiatives couldn't require spending, though. Am I wrong here?

  • Will Sommer

    You're right. Check out the 3rd to last paragraph in the story.

  • Marvin E. Adams

    Can anyone tell me, what was the final cost to the city for declaring all of its workers "essential" during the federal government shutdown. But just as important, is there a plan to replace the funds? Inquiring minds wants to know.

  • Chris hauser

    Howzabout an initiative to change the rules for initiatives?

    Or mandate honesty and integrity in politics?

  • drez

    Induced demand.

  • Pingback: All apologies

  • ShawGuy

    This is the most ridiculous, stupid concept I have ever heard. I hope these morons realize that for a LOT of people making over $40k a year, it would actually be CHEAPER for me to ask my boss to cut my pay to $39,999 so I could get free housing for the rest of my life than it is to actually WORK HARD and pay for it (and, of course, the taxes to get to that post-tax rent payment).

    I would, however, vote in a heartbeat to deny residency in the District to any of the clowns who came up with this idea. You know, I heard it was so cold this week that some of these crazy democrats were caught with their hands in their OWN pockets instead of in the pockets of the people who work for a living...

  • Lou

    This is an idiotic idea.

  • http://www.DCLibertarians2014.blogspot.com Bruce Majors

    Rents and sales prices have gone up because the federal government has imported lots of new people into DC, and surrounding counties, who rarely make less than $75,000 a year and frequently make over $100,000. And then lobbying groups hire people for even higher pay to influence how the well paid technocrats will implement their expanding control of our lives. These people have bid up prices.

    The people who make under $40,000 a year are not going to be eligible for these jobs. They graduated, or didn't graduate, from DC public schools, which may be getting better but don't yet send many people on to get law degrees and or other graduate degrees in technocracy.

    The federal government, as an unintended consequence of its expansion, has been enacting The Plan people used to whisper about in the early 1980s, expelling DC's African American working class to PG County, the Carolinas, wherever. Trapping lower income people in DC with free housing, no jobs, and bad schools and crime, the latter three being what the DC Democratic establishment has served up to them for decades, is not a kindness. It would be better to encourage them to flee DC for the midwest and careers in energy related industries, which are booming and hiring. For many non-lawyers, DC is a dead end. They will not be allowed by the ruling political class to start a business or career and become self-supporting and then wealthy and pass anything on to their children. Every regulation is stacked against them. Being trapped here to be clients and maybe voters supporting the salaries of 6 figure bureaucrats is a crime against their humanity.

  • chris lee

    So we aren't a city of responsible citizens..we are a nature preserve..the issue is "government" but habitat management