Lessons from City-Led Workforce Housing Funds in D.C.
Director, DC Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD)
As part of her budget, Mayor Bowser proposed an innovative Workforce Housing Fund to support the production of new homes that would be affordable to working families, teachers, social workers, first responders, etc. (households earning between 60% and 120% of the Area Median Income, however, City Council eliminated the $20 million dedicated fund and proposed replacing it with a $2.8 million tax abatement for private developers. While Mayor Bowser’s proposal can lock developers into 40-year affordability covenants, the Council’s proposal allows developers to set the policy on affordability. Mayor Bower’s rebuttal was that a tax abatement is no substitute for a dedicated fund for Workforce Housing and that without a dedicated fund to assist in the acquisition, construction, and rehab of workforce housing, a tax abatement is ineffective. “As we continue to make big investments in programs to support our most vulnerable residents, we must also think seriously about how we insulate middle-income workers, seniors, and families who make a decent salary but are already struggling to make ends meet. With more highly-paid workers coming into the region, an effective housing strategy must consider families across the income spectrum and it cannot be short-sighted – our plan for working families must consider long-time affordability.”