New Report Outlines the Unfulfilled Promises of Affordable Housing in Metropolitan Washington

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In an effort to create awareness surrounding the affordable housing crisis impacting residents of both low and middle income levels in the Washington area and to propose concrete solutions that can meaningfully increase affordable housing throughout the region, a comprehensive report and policy proposal titled Unfulfilled Promises: Affordable Housing in Metropolitan Washington was released today by the Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs (WLC), and attorneys at global law firm Hogan Lovells.

The report highlights how affordable housing is a chronic problem in the Washington area that's expected to get worse in the decades to come, as the population of the region grows and the already wide gap between the need for and the availability of affordable units widens. This current problem is a result of a failure to both create sufficient affordable units and preserve existing affordable units. The report also uncovers that the jurisdictions using tools to create affordable housing are often not using those tools effectively, and it explains how jurisdictions should tighten and streamline program requirements and limit exceptions to ensure that the tools can truly deliver affordable housing.

"Given the disparities in income along racial and ethnic lines, as well as the demographics of communities being displaced by gentrification in many parts of the region, it is clear to us that the affordable housing crisis is a civil rights issue," said Megan K. Whyte de Vasquez, Project Director of the Fair Housing Project at WLC. "The genesis of this report was to highlight that while affordable housing is frequently talked about as a priority, the programs that have been instituted to address the crisis in our region have frequently fallen short in implementation."

The report provides an overview of the situation for affordable housing in six local jurisdictions -- Washington, D.C., Montgomery County and Prince George's County in Maryland, and Arlington County, Fairfax County, and Alexandria City in Virginia – and identifies the tools that – if more aggressively used and more effectively executed – could best respond to the need and have a meaningful impact on the serious affordable housing shortage that characterizes the entire region. These tools include:

• Housing Production Trust Funds

• Harnessing Existing Inventory of Public Land (federal, state, and city) to serve affordable housing goals

• Effective public/private partnerships

• Inclusionary zoning

• Developing Accessory dwelling units ("ADUs"),

• Workforce/employer-assisted housing

• Rapid rehousing and emergency rental assistance programs.

The Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, was established in 1968 to provide pro bono legal services to address racial discrimination and poverty in the D.C. metropolitan area.

The Committee's Fair Housing Project was established to address racial discrimination in housing and other denials of equal housing opportunity, as well as to advocate for the right to fair and affordable housing in the D.C. metropolitan area.

The attorneys from Hogan Lovells who contributed to this report include Laura Biddle, Meghan Edwards-Ford, Joanna Huang, Deepika Ravi, Lisa Strauss, and Mary Anne Sullivan.

To view the report click here.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In an effort to create awareness surrounding the affordable housing crisis impacting residents of both low and middle income levels in the Washington area and to propose concrete solutions that can meaningfully increase affordable housing throughout the region, a comprehensive report and policy proposal titled Unfulfilled Promises: Affordable Housing in Metropolitan Washington was released today by the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs (WLC), and attorneys at global law firm Hogan Lovells.

The report highlights how affordable housing is a chronic problem in the Washington area that’s expected to get worse in the decades to come, as the population of the region grows and the already wide gap between the need for and the availability of affordable units widens. This current problem is a result of a failure to both create sufficient affordable units and preserve existing affordable units. The report also uncovers that the jurisdictions using tools to create affordable housing are often not using those tools effectively, and it explains how jurisdictions should tighten and streamline program requirements and limit exceptions to ensure that the tools can truly deliver affordable housing.

“Given the disparities in income along racial and ethnic lines, as well as the demographics of communities being displaced by gentrification in many parts of the region, it is clear to us that the affordable housing crisis is a civil rights issue,” said Megan K. Whyte de Vasquez, Project Director of the Fair Housing Project at WLC. “The genesis of this report was to highlight that while affordable housing is frequently talked about as a priority, the programs that have been instituted to address the crisis in our region have frequently fallen short in implementation.”

The report provides an overview of the situation for affordable housing in six local jurisdictions -- Washington, D.C., Montgomery County and Prince George’s County in Maryland, and Arlington County, Fairfax County, and Alexandria City in Virginia – and identifies the tools that – if more aggressively used and more effectively executed – could best respond to the need and have a meaningful impact on the serious affordable housing shortage that characterizes the entire region. These tools include:

·         Housing Production Trust Funds

·         Harnessing Existing Inventory of Public Land (federal, state, and city) to serve affordable housing goals

·         Effective public/private partnerships

·         Inclusionary zoning

·         Developing  Accessory dwelling units (“ADUs”),

·         Workforce/employer-assisted housing

·          Rapid rehousing and emergency rental assistance programs.

The Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, was established in 1968 to provide pro bono legal services to address racial discrimination and poverty in the D.C. metropolitan area.

The Committee’s Fair Housing Project was established to address racial discrimination in housing and other denials of equal housing opportunity, as well as to advocate for the right to fair and affordable housing in the D.C. metropolitan area.

The attorneys from Hogan Lovells who contributed to this report include Laura Biddle, Meghan Edwards-Ford, Joanna Huang, Deepika Ravi, Lisa Strauss, and Mary Anne Sullivan.

To view the report click here.                               

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