WASHINGTON, DC –Brook Hill, Equal Justice Works Fellow, Fair Housing Project called upon the District of Columbia Housing Authority Board of Commissioners to table or vote against Resolution 16-14 To Authorize Pre-Development Financing for the Barry Farms Redevelopment.
District of Columbia Housing Authority Board of Commissioners
Wednesday, September 14, 2016 1:00 P.M.
To Authorize Pre-Development Financing for the Barry Farm Redevelopment
Oral Testimony of: Brook Hill, Equal Justice Works Fellow, Fair Housing Project
Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs
11 Dupont Circle NW, Suite 400, Washington, D.C. 20036
Thank you for the opportunity to offer testimony today. The Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs respectfully requests the Board of Commissioners to table or vote against Resolution 16-14unless and until the DCHA meaningfully adheres to the New Communities Initiative principles which it has committed to honor with respect to the Barry Farm redevelopment and adequately and immediately addresses the continuing uninhabitable conditions in which many tenants continue to reside.
With respect to the NCI principles, the DCHA has not sufficiently met its commitment to “one-for-one replacement” by seeking to eliminate ninety-one three-, four-, and six-bedroom units in which families presently reside or could reside in the redevelopment. Although the DCHA has proposed replacement housing of 100 units available at Sheridan Station and Matthews Memorial, neither property offers affordable units with at least four bedrooms. Second, although the DCHA previously passed Resolution 16-06—intended to give effect to Barry Farm residents’ “right to return”—the resolution’s “subject to availability” provision could dilute the right significantly. Similarly, the promise to permit households to return to their original development and reside in “a unit [that] fits their household size” would be unenforceable for Barry Farm families who reside in units that are targeted for elimination. Further revisions and implementing regulations are thus required. Third,although DMPED and the DCHA committed to “build first,” the DCHA will need to complete the necessary structural surveys and/or publicly confirm that as a result of these, residents will be permitted to stay in place. And, with respect to maintenance, as of this week, the Committee identified tenants whose conditions the DCHA has not yet addressed, either completely or in part—repairs which are essential to safe and habitable conditions for Barry Farm residents and their families. DCHA’s recent efforts to address some tenants’ conditions are a step in the right direction but such assistance comes long after tenants’ repeated maintenance requests went ignored. Additionally, the Committee is aware that many of these repairs are temporary or shoddy, at best.
Lastly, the Committee has two pending FOIA requests with the DCHA that seek information regarding the redevelopment and the DCHA’s handling of Barry Farm residents’ maintenance requests which remain outstanding. Whether it complies by sharing the requested information remains to be seen.
As this Board knows, the pre-development financing authorized under Resolution 16-14 would assure the ability of the DCHA and its development partners—to a great extent—to move forward with the redevelopment of the Barry Farm property, which makes the timing for the adoption of this resolution all the more critical.
Given the concerns we have raised and reasons we have shared with the Board, we urge you to not approve Resolution 16-14 because at this time, it would be premature to do so.
 Cover Letter from Applicant Enclosing Post-hearing Materials (July 14, 2014) at 5 Doc. No. 79, available at: https://app.dcoz.dc.gov/content/search/Search.aspx (Case No. 14-02).
 Id. at 2.