Testimony: Department of Housing and Community Development and Housing Production Trust Fund budget

Hon. Robert White
Chair, Committee on Housing 
Council of the District of Columbia
John A. Wilson Building
1350 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20004

Dear Chairperson White and members of the Committee:

Please accept these comments on behalf of the Coalition for Smarter Growth. The Coalition for Smarter Growth is a nonprofit organization that advocates for walkable, bikeable, inclusive, and transit-oriented communities as the most sustainable and equitable way for the Washington, DC region to grow and provide opportunities for all.

In a challenging budget year, we ask the Committee to maintain its commitment to funding affordable housing production, preservation and essential eviction prevention. Specifically, we request the following. 

  • Fund HPTF at $100 million: HPTF is the foundation for an inclusive city that preserves and produces homes for low income workers, families and individuals. While our housing affordability challenges are severe, the HPTF provides irreplaceable capacity to address our needs. 
  • Fund and repair ERAP: The Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) serves a vital purpose that prevents eviction and homelessness. While acknowledging ERAP’s critical role in eviction prevention and housing stabilization, we are concerned by some of the unexpected consequences in the implementation and impacts on affordable housing providers. Providers are now facing inadvertently heightened delinquencies at an unprecedented scale, risking foreclosure, or forced sales of affordable housing properties due to lack of resources to pay expenses. This crisis must be addressed as we continue to provide ERAP assistance.
  • Additional $5 million to Housing Preservation Fund: We ask the Council to secure an additional $5 million for the Housing Preservation Fund to support the existing loan portfolio, crucial for preventing significant loss in affordable housing and resident displacement. This fund is vital for replenishing interest reserves, covering critical repairs, and providing strategic support to ensure the effective utilization of over $120 million in loans for housing preservation. We are losing housing projects that we have fought for and won at the Zoning Commission, or through a TOPA process, only to see them falter due to lack of LIHTC and HPTF funding. 
  • Neighborhood Based Activities Program of $13.3 million in FY25: We ask the Council to maintain at least level funding for the Neighborhood Based Activities Program of $13.3 million in FY25. We were pleased with the increased funding for NBAP in FY24, however, the proposed $3 million cut to NBAP would not only hurt the organizations supporting DC residents, but would further strain first time homebuyer’s ability to obtain HPAP funds and for tenants seeking TOPA to get the technical assistance they need. The NBAP provides critical support for community-based organizations, offering a range of services essential for affordable housing preservation and tenant rights and must be fully funded in this critical time.
  • Fund 30% MFI operating costs by bridging the gap between 50% and 30% MFI cost inside the HPTF: The HPTF was not set up to meet its obligation to provide homes to households at the 30% median family income level. We recommend that an innovative funding mechanism be created inside HPTF to fund the operating costs of extremely low income units by providing an operating subsidy that bridges the gap between 50% MFI units and 30% MFI units. This would complement existing LRSP funding which focuses on lower income households.

Thank you for your consideration. 

Cheryl Cort
Policy Director