D.C.

D.C. housing: Activists call for more funding for affordable housing

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Over 70,000 D.C. residents have been waiting years, sometimes more than a decade, for affordable housing.

Over 70,000 D.C. residents have been waiting years, sometimes more than a decade, for affordable housing. Photo: Mr. T in DC via Creative Commons

Latanya Washington has been living in a homeless shelter with her two little boys for three years as the D.C. Housing Authority works to put her into an apartment.

“We just need to get out of here, like today,” she says.

But the budget is tight and the Housing Authority says it simply can’t afford to place homeless residents like Washington in affordable housing anytime soon.

Demonstrators now say it’s time for D.C. councilmembers to put more funds into affordable housing programs.

“The D.C. housing situation is in a complete crisis and we really need a long-term commitment with a significant ongoing contribution from D.C. government,” says Elizabeth Falcon, who organized the Leader of the Housing For All campaign.

But inside the Housing Authority, officials say the problem starts on Capitol Hill.

“The D.C. Housing Authority is losing about $1 million a month from our federal funding,” says Dena Michaelson, DCHA spokesperson.

Ninety-five percent of the DCHA’s budget comes from Capitol Hill, but with the sequester, officials say the agency is lowing precious funds every month.

“Our ability to maintain housing as it should be maintained is stretched,” says Michaelson.

Michaelson says there is no easy answer, but outside, the people left waiting say they’re losing patience and losing hope.

“I do feel abandoned,” says Reginald Pierce, who lives with his mother and 17-year-old son. “It’s a real big emotion because sometimes I just sit at home and cry.”

But there is some relief. Protestors who are on the list will remain in the system and will have the chance to voice their concerns again. The event’s organizers say they’re planning more rallies outside the Wilson Building over the next few months as the City Council finalizes its new budget.

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