The District of Columbia Housing Authority continues to work with customers to provide them affordable housing in communities across the city, Executive Director Adrianne Todman advised D.C. Councilmembers on January 28.

She spoke at the Public Roundtable on the issue of the “New Communities Initiative and the Right to Return,” held by the D.C. Council’s Committee on Housing and Community Development. Todman dispelled many of the untruths about the housing options of families whose sites were redeveloped over the years and the opportunity for  families to return to sites like  Barry Farm and Park Morton which are slated to be redeveloped as part of the New Communities Initiative.

She said families aren’t being relocated yet as part of the redevelopment, and DCHA is responding to maintenance needs on the sites. During relocation, families will be offered another public housing unit in DCHA’s portfolio, or a voucher that will provide rental assistance in the private market. .

Todman said families will have choices in returning to the site or keeping their “relocation” housing. She said the housing authority and the office of the  Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development will keep working with them to make sure they are able to exercise those options.

“Bringing families back is certainly a most important goal,” she said. “But families have choices and I think you have to be careful about looking at a return rate, as the singular sign of success as to whether a redevelopment  was done well.”

“It is certainly the housing authority’s vision that public housing in the city is maintained and grows,” she said. “I think that New Communities is one strategy to do that.  It’s not the only strategy that we’ve deployed over the past several years, , but it’s certainly one of the strategies, particularly for those sites where a simple repair is not enough.

The Public Roundtable was to “try to put—as much as possible—the fears and the concerns of residents at ease,” said the committee chair, Council member Anita Bonds.

At-large Council member Elissa Silverman said, in order to have a city that is “dynamic and full of life…change must occur,” but the city should make those changes be felt by all of D.C.’s residents. She said that a recent poll showed that many current residents feel “change in our city doesn’t benefit them.”

Ward 8 Council member LaRuby May said she wants to make sure every Barry Farm resident "who wants to return can return." She added she would love to see "some come back as homeowners."  

Ward 1 Council member Brianne Nadeau wants to “use all of the tools in our tool box” to preserve and create new affordable units.”

Todman agreed with them, saying continuing to do patchwork repairs on outmoded developments such as Barry Farm wouldn’t be a wise investment as the housing authority, which had received $20 million annually in federal dollars for capital programming, only receives around $4 million today. 

DCHA Executive Director Adrianne Todman
Last modified: 2/3/2016 1:08:32 PM