The District’s top housing experts gathered to discuss how the city is preserving and creating housing for seniors.
District of Columbia Housing Authority Executive Director Adrianne Todman and Department of Housing and Community Development Polly Donaldson spoke candidly with the D.C. Senior Advisory Coalition recently at a renovated senior building in Northeast.
“My objective is to ensure that seniors that are currently housed are living with dignity and taking part in their communities,” Todman told the crowd.
The authority has been working to increase services in senior buildings and continues to search for funding to ensure community service organizations are onsite. DCHA, which houses 2,200 seniors and 1,100 near-senior-aged people at public housing sites, receives federal funds to operate the properties, not host service organizations, she said.
“We are working to find creative ways to bring services inside our buildings,” said Todman, who referred to DCHA’s assisted living facility on 11th Street, N.W., which is funded through Medicaid.
“We have a strong interest in keeping seniors in D.C.,” Todman said, who noted the agency is working on a special rental program to address the needs of seniors on the waitlist and having trouble making their rising rents.
Donaldson agreed and said D.C. is an Age-Friendly City, which is an international designation for cities that promote the needs of seniors. She noted the city works with DCHA to create funding streams for developers that want to build affordable housing, often using the city’s Housing Preservation Trust Fund. She listed a new senior building on Girard Street (click here for details) and another called Plaza West (click here for details) that were recently created through the partnership.
“We like to encourage creative thinking like that,” she said. “We don’t just build a building, but we are building a community.”
Donaldson also highlighted programs the city has, like Safe at Home, that offer seniors grants for small repairs and upgrades to help them stay in their homes. There is also a city law that caps property taxes for seniors, she said.
Both Todman and Donaldson encouraged the crowd to continue advocating for investments in senior services and housing.