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The District of Columbia Housing Authority’s Executive Director Adrianne Todman updated the D.C. Council’s Committee on Housing and Community Development about the agency’s success and plans for the current fiscal year.

Following public testimony, Executive Director Adrianne Todman highlighted new initiatives within the public housing and voucher programs, as well as new customer service features and efficiencies. She also outlined a few budget decisions the council could make that would assist DCHA in serving its customers.

“At DCHA, we strive to unlock opportunities for families with modest or limited incomes by providing stable, affordable housing. This captures the core of our mission,” she said. “We still work creatively with other public and private partners on human capital investments so that families can improve their economic situation and future potential.”

DCHA owns or subsidizes more than 21,000 units of affordable housing for low- to moderate-income households, including 8,300 units of public housing, which Todman called “a precious resource.” She detailed the annual decreases in federal funding allocated to public housing across the country that make operating and maintaining public housing extremely difficult.

“Funding for public housing is not derived based on the actual costs to operate and maintain the units, but on a national formula that many experts consider flawed.  And what’s worse is that even by that formula’s standards, the program is underfunded,” she said. “Today public housing authorities across the country receive 15 percent less in funding than the formula dictates we should receive.  That equals about $8 million less in funding each year for us at DCHA.  In the past 16 years, public housing has been fully funded only four times.”  

Similar decreases exist in capital funding from the federal government meant to support major renovation projects and not daily maintenance.

“This month, DCHA received our capital fund allocation of $14,350,560, far less than the almost $25 million we received in years past,” Todman said.

She went on to say, “This is regrettable given that much like our highways and schools, public housing is part of the infrastructure of America, and but for its existence so many Americans and almost 20,000 District of Columbia families would likely have nowhere to live.” 

DCHA has used creative funding streams combining public and private dollars, as well as tax credits and other financing, to preserve and create affordable housing in the District. Today, the city has 1,000 more public housing units then it did 10 years ago – and the agency is committed to creating more housing for D.C.’s residents.

“DCHA has been working aggressively on its redevelopment and modernization pipeline, but with a process that is sensitive to concerns of the residents who live on these sites.  This participatory process may appear slow and messy from the outside, and certainly the redevelopment of an occupied public housing site is never easy,” Todman said. “But if it is the right course of action given the condition of the units, the future value it will bring residents, and the potential of the site to help the larger community grow, we will pursue it.”   

She highlighted the completion of MetroTowns at Parkside, Sheridan Station, and phases of Highland Dwellings. She also mentioned the almost completed 195 new rental units—including 39 replacement low-income units—at The Bixby in Ward 6 and the Jill and John Ker Conway Residence site in NOMA neighborhood where 77 new, low-income, supportive housing units for veterans and other needy individuals about to come on line.

“We have also selected a developer to work with us on transforming our corporate footprint into an urban village consisting of affordable and market rate housing, retail, and DCHA office space that is more customer friendly to our clients and efficient for my team,” she said.   

Through all of these large-scale redevelopments, DCHA has treated the affected families with compassion and respect, she said. “Over the years, we relocated over 1,700 [families] and less than 70 choose to move outside of D.C.” 

“We know that families want to stay here, and our work is focused on marrying the needs of families today with the reality that without some investment in the present, low-income families in the future will not have public housing as an option because it will be gone,” Todman said.

Through the voucher program, DCHA provides additional affordable housing to 13,000 families who need rental assistance. The agency has simplified its recertification process and expanded the number of neighborhoods that are affordable by increasing the voucher payment standard.

She also went on to list DCHA’s programs that help customers achieve their goals, including the Section 3 Workforce initiative that provides our customers access to jobs through our contracts and vendors, our home purchasing programs, and college scholarships we award.

“With programs like these, and our overall commitment to improving conditions for low-income families who live in the District of Columbia, DCHA‘s job is complex, but rewarding,” she said before answering further questions from the council members.

 

 

 

 

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DCHA Executive Director Adrianne Todman speaks to D.C. Council members.
Last modified: 2/29/2016 1:00:34 PM