More than 100 people heard about options and next steps for the Barry Farm redevelopment at a meeting focused on relocation and voucher assistance.

The meeting held March 5 at the Barry Farm Recreation Center, featured experts and community partners speaking on lease compliance, relocation and re-occupancy, and the Housing Choice Voucher Program. The District of Columbia Housing Authority held the meeting to give an overview of the relocation process and how the agency will work with the city and Barry Farm community to develop return criteria.

DCHA has submitted an application to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development requesting approval to demolish and dispose of the Barry Farm and Wade Apartment buildings. Once the application is approved the housing authority will begin the relocation process by sending a letter, called a General Information Notice, to Barry Farm customers to let them know the application has been approved. Immediately, DCHA also will request federal housing choice vouchers for families.

Housing Opportunities Unlimited (HOU), a company that has provided relocation services for 30 years, has been hired to work with each individual household to make the transition as smooth as possible. HOU and DCHA’s relocation staff will meet with each family to conduct a relocation needs assessment survey and to develop a personalized relocation plan.

HOU will conduct workshops to educate families on their housing options. Some families may want to transfer to another public housing site. Others may want to apply for a voucher while additional households may want to enroll in the Achieve Your Best Life homeownership program through DCHA.

Relocation staff will send at least two housing referrals to the family based on their size and needs. One of the two referrals will be offered when the 90-Day Notice is sent--notifying customers they will have to relocate in 90 days. HOU will provide packing materials to families and coordinate moving company services. They also will assist households that need help packing, such as an elderly or disabled family.

All move-related costs will be covered. DCHA has stated that anyone who lived at Barry Farm since October 2012 or after will be eligible for relocation and moving expenses.

HOU and DCHA relocation staff will be supporting the community throughout the process, from applying for a voucher to taking care of last-minute details to ensure a safe move.

If a household chooses to apply for a voucher, HOU will help with the application and explain the eligibility requirements. Vouchers have an added level of responsibility, such as having to pay for utilities, since they are for units in the private market. Most landlords require their renters to pay their own utility bills. Once a voucher application is approved, DCHA will help customers find suitable units and inspect them to make sure they are decent, safe, and sanitary. Customers have up to six months to find a place before the voucher expires.

While the family is waiting to return to the new redevelopment, they must continue to recertify with DCHA every two years. This not only allows DCHA to know where each family is, but it also tells the agency the changing dynamics of each household as it grows or becomes smaller. Families also must stay lease compliant. If a family chooses a voucher, for example, they must be sure to pay their utilities on time. Having unpaid utility bills is one way a family could lose its voucher and not be lease compliant, and therefore unable to return when the redevelopment is complete.

The Far Southeast Family Strengthening Collaborative is creating a Barry Farm Support Center onsite for the relocation effort. The collaborative also helps households connect with health, educational, and employment services. They also can help households set up repayment agreements so that they are lease compliant.

DCHA is working with the community to make the redevelopment process run smoothly. DCHA has been and will continue to collaborate and engage with Barry Farm customers throughout the whole process to develop the return criteria and the redevelopment plan. 

The Barry Farm community gets an overview of the redevelopment process.
Attendees broke up into three groups to learn more about lease compliance, relocation and re-occupancy, and vouchers.
A HOU representative explains the relocation assistance her organization will be providing to the community.
Last modified: 3/8/2016 1:35:25 PM