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The District of Columbia Housing Authority outlined a strategic roadmap for fiscal year 2018 by submitting the agency’s annual Moving to Work plan.

DCHA is one of 39 public housing authorities selected by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to participate in the “Moving to Work” (MTW) demonstration program. As an MTW agency, DCHA has greater funding and regulatory flexibility to meet local needs. With this flexibility MTW agencies design and test innovative, locally designed strategies focused on achieving greater cost effectiveness, while helping customers become self-sufficient and increasing housing choices.

Each year since 2003, when it first became an MTW agency, DCHA has prepared and submitted to HUD an annual plan that outlines the strategic goals of the agency for the upcoming fiscal year. To prepare the plan, DCHA staff spends a few months each spring holding meetings with stakeholders and residents to hear input on the plan. The process includes a 30-day public comment period and a public hearing.

For the upcoming fiscal year, DCHA has proposed two initiatives that will offer new opportunities for DCHA customers. First, DCHA proposed an initiative that would establish a pilot program enabling voucher customers to move into market-rate rental units without needing a security deposit. Through the pilot program, DCHA would guarantee the landlord up to one month’s rent to cover unit repairs beyond normal wear and tear once the customer moves out.

“We always encourage our residents to seek housing in areas that best meet their family’s needs—whether that is based on schools, job opportunities or other amenities important to their family thriving,” said Housing Choice Voucher Program Director Ronald McCoy. “But renting in the private market is extremely expensive. Providing this guarantee in lieu of a security deposit is another step DCHA is taking in order to assist our customers in having more choices and opportunities for their families.”

The second initiative amends DCHA’s public housing local market-based rent or flat rent policy. The intent is to allow more families to take advantage of the incentive than the agency’s current approach and is a stark departure from the HUD required method. DCHA is already using its MTW flexibility to more accurately calculate the flat-rent schedule based on the customer’s neighborhood instead of using HUD’s metric which establishes a single flat rent by bedroom size regardless of where the public housing development is located. Based on DCHA analysis, rents vary from neighborhood to neighborhood and no two public housing developments and surrounding communities are alike. Currently, DCHA public housing customers either pay a flat rent or 30 percent of their income, whichever is lower. DCHA’s local market-based rent policy separates rent from income so qualifying families can focus on increasing household income without worrying about their rent increasing. Families have an incentive to increase their earnings by keeping monthly rent payments predictable. The fiscal 2018 MTW Plan proposal adjusts DCHA’s existing formula for setting the local market-based rate rent schedule to make market-based rents a viable option for more families. 

The annual MTW plan also explains how DCHA proposes to use it capital funds, grants, and other funds to support its mission to create and preserve affordable housing in the District during the upcoming fiscal year.

During the annual plan process, DCHA reviews all of the initiatives it has permission to implement and decides if it is time to close or “retire” an initiative. For example, DCHA has received HUD approval for 40 initiatives since 2003 and is currently using and implementing more than half of them. This year, DCHA proposed one new initiative and re-proposed an initiative with slightly updated information. Since MTW is designed to test bold new ideas, not all initiatives might work as intended. Or, if something works well, HUD might change a policy and give all agencies permission to do it. This has happened with some of the initiatives DCHA implemented using its MTW authority such as biennial recertifications; triennial recertifications for persons on fixed income; and biennial HQS inspections.

A draft copy of the FY2018 MTW Plan is available here and copies of plans from past years are available on the HUD website here.

   

 

 

 

 

 

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Housing Choice Voucher Program Director Ronald McCoy
Last modified: 8/9/2017 12:19:12 PM