A New Bill in DC Would Enable Converting Apartments to Affordable Housing

  • May 25th 2021

by Nena Perry-Brown

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A newly-proposed bill in DC aims to create affordable housing from an unlikely source: existing apartments.

Councilmembers Robert White (At-Large) and Brianne Nadeau (Ward 1) co-introduced a bill on Monday that would enable the city to place affordability covenants on existing apartments.

The Generating Affordability in Neighborhoods (GAIN) Act would establish a program through which the city would pay a subsidy to a landlord to apply an affordability covenant to a certain share of units in a building for a specific number of years. The units would be affordable to households earning up to 30% or 50% of median family income. 

If the bill passes, the mayor's office would annually issue a request for proposals (RFP) that would specify the terms of the program for landlords. Landlords would respond to the RFP stating the number of units it would place the covenant on, the number of bedrooms in each unit, the last five years of rental collections for those units, and the amount of subsidy they are requesting in exchange.

Awarded landlords would be able to seek extensions of the covenant. If they choose not to apply for an extension, they cannot increase the rent for the tenant living under an existing subsidy until their lease ends, and they must give the tenant six month's notice before the subsidy expires. Existing tenants in a building where the covenant will apply would be able to rent a unit with a covenant if they are otherwise eligible.

The bill would also create a three-member Affordability Covenant Commission to court landlords to participate in the program and negotiate on the city's behalf.

“By purchasing housing that already exists and lowering the rents residents would pay, the city can create affordability more quickly and less expensively than our general method of building new affordable housing,” Councilmember White said in a statement.

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/proposed-dc-council-bill-would-enable-converting-apartments-to-afforda/18304.

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