Archives

Written by Rosanne Avilés

May 08

2012

New Report Documents Alarming Reduction of Affordable Housing in the District

Rosanne Avilés, Supervising Attorney -Housing

The District lost 50 percent of its low-cost rental housing between 2000 and 2010, according to a study released last week by the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute.  This significant loss of affordable housing, coupled with rising housing costs and stagnant wages for the bottom 40 percent of D.C. households, has created an affordable housing crisis for many low-income District residents.  Indeed, in order to retain affordable housing, many residents have lived in substandard conditions and endured repeated struggles with their landlords to obtain necessary repairs.  A recent article in the Washington Post documents the struggles that some D.C. families have had to maintain safe, habitable, affordable housing.

The D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute’s study was a sobering account of a distressed rental housing market that we routinely see Legal Aid’s clients struggle to navigate.

 

Aug 29

2011

Legal Aid Supports D.C Office of Human Rights’ Proposed Regulations that Expand Housing Protections for Victims of Domestic Violence

Rosanne Avilés, Supervising Attorney -Housing

The D.C. Office of Human Rights recently released a proposal to amend Chapter 10 of Title 4 of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations (DCMR).   The proposed amendments would address several important issues, including providing significant housing protections to victims of domestic violence.

One of the proposals would require housing providers to make efforts to provide safe housing to a victim of an intrafamily offense, including transferring the victim to alternative housing that is either managed or owned by the provider.  Such a proposal would greatly help victims of an intrafamily offense, particularly victims residing in certain federally-subsidized apartments.  Currently, victims of domestic violence living in federally-subsidized project-based Section 8 housing have very limited, if any, options for transferring to other subsidized housing when they need to leave their current housing in order to protect their safety.  Although a housing provider may own or manage multiple federally-subsidized project-based Section 8 properties, there is no law in place right now that requires it to transfer a victim of domestic violence from an apartment in one federally-subsidized property to another such property. This proposal would change that.

Late last month, Legal Aid submitted a comment letter to the D.C. Office of Human Rights supporting the proposed amendments.  In it, we expressed that we strongly support the amendment that will require housing providers, such as owners or managers of multiple project-based Section 8 properties, to transfer a victim of an intrafamily offense to alternative housing that is owned or managed by the provider when needed to provide safe housing to the victim.  This provision will allow victims of an intrafamily offense to retain their housing subsidy if they need to move from their current home for safety reasons. Thus, victims of an intrafamily offense would no longer need to choose between retaining affordable housing and living in safe housing.

We commend the D.C. Office of Human Rights for their efforts to provide greater housing protections to victims of an intrafamily offense and hope the proposed amendments to the DCMR will be implemented.