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The District of Columbia Housing Authority took part in a hearing discussing legislation D.C. Council is considering regarding the rights and credit building for the city’s public housing residents.

The council’s Committee on Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization heard testimony on two bills—Public Housing Resident Bill of Rights Amendment Act of 2017 and the Public Housing Credit Building Pilot Program Act of 2017—on January 31.

This was the first time DCHA Executive Director Tyrone Garrett sat before council members to offer testimony. After a short introduction he said, “I plan to leverage resources to improve the lives of the many residents we are privileged to serve. I am proud to be a part of an agency that works hard to fulfill its commitment to help communities across the city with purpose and dedication.”

Council member Anita Bonds said the proposed bill would include DCHA providing its customers with an explanation of the rights they currently hold within DCHA communities. The other proposed bill contemplates how to help low-income families improve their credit scores.

“While we are a landlord and rental assistance administrator first and foremost, we also understand that we are uniquely positioned to play a pivotal role in connecting residents to everyday resources. We endeavor to meet customers’ needs by providing or facilitating services,” said Garrett, who then listed DCHA’s workforce development and training programs and the Family Self-Sufficiency program that includes financial literacy and credit building classes, among other programs.

The housing authority provides new and existing residents with information about their rights and responsibilities and would not create new rights, but Garrett made clear that DCHA “has no objection to creating a ‘Bill of Rights’ document as council intends.”

When addressing the second proposed bill, Garrett said after reviewing available data, he would like the opportunity to study the two housing authorities that have recently started credit building pilot programs of their own—Portland and New York City.

“Our recommendation is to defer implementation of this program until we have had more time to study this issue. In the meantime, the D.C. Housing Authority will further review and refine existing initiatives which facilitate financial literacy and programs so that we can expand our efforts to connect residents to existing resources and opportunities,” Garrett said to the committee.

The committee also heard testimony from the public, as well as legal and housing advocates.

Officials from the D.C. Council and DCHA agreed to continue working together to find the best resolution for the proposed legislation. 

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DCHA Executive Director Tyrone Garrett and a D.C. resident discuss proposed legislation with Council member Anita Bonds after the hearing.
Last modified: 2/8/2018 9:35:12 AM