The District of Columbia Housing Authority has preserved affordable housing in the District by allowing a higher rent payment for its voucher program customers.
Last year, DCHA increased the payment standard to 130 percent of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s fair market rent. With the recent renewal of this measure, combined with HUD’s increase in fair market rent for D.C., voucher customers can stay in their homes as rents increase and some can now afford to move to neighborhoods with more amenities.
“Not only does this allow our families to have more choice and flexibility in choosing the community they want to live in, but it preserves and makes more housing affordable in D.C.,” said DCHA Board of Commissioners Chairman Terri Thompson. “This increase will allow our customers to move into neighborhoods in Wards 2, 5, and 6 that were not available to them last year, such as Shaw, Old City, and Eckington.”
DCHA was able to increase its payment standard to 130 percent of HUD’s fair market rent because of the authority’s flexibility as a Moving to Work agency, which allows DCHA to create housing solutions that match the local environment.
There are a total of 56 rental submarkets in the District. Before the 2015 increase, DCHA customers could only afford to rent in 15 of those submarkets. With this board’s 2016 vote, voucher customers will be able to live in 22 of those submarkets.
This vote also benefits property owners because they will be able to charge rents that are more in line with what they can get in the open market. This gives DCHA customers even more choices of where they can afford to live.
Many landlords in these areas are not used to receiving vouchers and are unaware of the benefits. DCHA customers also may not be aware of all of their new options. So, last year DCHA began an outreach effort to attract new landlords to the program and to educate current customers about the new opportunity.
DCHA representatives have been meeting with landlords in the new neighborhoods to explain the program, the advantages of being a voucher landlord, and the procedures they must follow to participate. DCHA staff also tells customers about the new rental areas’ schools, transportation options, and screening criteria, among other things, to help them make decisions.
“We have new partnerships with seven large landlords in low poverty submarkets in D.C. as a result of our outreach efforts thus far, “ said HCVP Director Ronald McCoy. “We are providing families with more housing options in more neighborhoods.”