D.C.

Gray commits to 10,000 new affordable housing units by 2020

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In his State of the District address last month, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray committed $100 million dollars to affordable housing.

That will fund this first year of this "10-by-20" plan. It's an ambitious goal but in D.C., this is a major issue and the district's projected population growth will only make the supply shorter and costs higher.

With the release of this task force report, Gray has made a commitment to 10,000 new affordable housing units across D.C. by the year 2020.

Whether or not he's still mayor beyond 2014, his “10-by-20” plan will require substantial funding.

“We think it would take anywhere from $500 million and a billion dollars to accomplish that goal,” said Harry Sewell, D.C. Housing Finance Agency director.

In response, those representing the private sector on the 36-member task force call this "a call to action."

“It is our responsibility in the private sector to match, to leverage, to maybe invest more into the city,” says Oramenta Newsome, D.C. Local Initiatives Support Corporation.

Besides funding, another challenge will be spreading affordable housing units across the district.

“But if you look at market dynamics, there are greater opportunities in some parts of the city, so it has to be a diverse strategy,” says Sue Marshall of the Community Partnership for Prev. of Homelessness.

Gray says he will now review the report.

Recommendations include investing in the district's Affordable Housing Trust Fund, creating new low-income housing tax credits and streamlining the permit process and-or waiving fees for affordable developments.

“Our vision is simple and aspirational. The D of C is a city that provides housing that is affordable to all who wish to live work and play here,” says Deborah Ratner Salzberg, the task force co-chair.

Gray says $100 million in fiscal year 2013 is "the right start" for this effort. But when asked whether he'd make the same investment in fiscal year 2014, he said he doesn't know because he doesn't know what will come down the pike.

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