A Washington, D.C. government initiative announced Oct. 6 will target the housing affordability issues individuals experiencing homelessness face in the District.

The Landlord Partnership Fund will work to foster a positive relationship between landlords and tenants enrolling for public housing and promote affordable housing and stability across all eight wards, according to D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D).

The fund, subsidized by the Coalition for Nonprofit Housing and Economic Development and financed by local business groups including the pro-business growth DowntownDC Business Improvement District, will cover certain costs incurred by landlords of tenants whose rent is subsidized by a Department of Human Services Homeless Services intervention, according to a news release from Bowser’s office Oct. 6.

In turn, landlords are expected to relax screening criteria for people experiencing certain barriers to housing, including poor credit and past evictions, that have prevented them from securing affordable housing on their own.

According to CNHED’s website, the fund is especially needed in D.C., which is facing a severe shortage of affordable housing and a shortage of landlords willing to lease affordable units to households with histories of homelessness.

This initiative is a part of Bowser’s policy commitment to eradicating homelessness across the District, as the mayor’s office is also implementing a plan to open shelters for individuals experiencing homelessness in wards across the city.

“My administration is committed to making homelessness in DC rare, brief, and nonrecurring, and the Landlord Partnership Fund as well as the improvements we are making to our homeless services system are going to help us reach that goal,” Bowser said in her Oct. 6 announcement.

The Landlord Partnership Fund will be modeled after other similar housing initiatives.

In order for landlords to be eligible for this initiative, they will be required to enroll in the initiative through the CNHED. The costs covered by this fund will be unpaid rent up to $5,000 and property damage up to $2,500.

CNHED President and CEO Stephen Glaude commended the efforts to contribute to the fund’s endowment thus far.

“Those contributing to the Fund should be applauded for their willingness be a part of the solution,” Glaude said in a Oct. 6 news release.

Still, professor Joseph McCartin, executive director of Georgetown’s Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor, said there is still work to be done to tackle the causes of homelessness.

McCartin, whose institute develops strategies and public policy recommendations for improved labor and quality of living standards, said he doubts the immediate efficacy of these programs.

“I fear that the partnership is not going to be able to address to full need that the situation now presents, but I think we will have to see how it unfolds,” McCartin said.

McCartin said privately funded initiatives may be the best resource to address housing issues, as President Donald Trump’s administration announces budget cuts for the Department of Housing and Urban Development in 2018.

HUD currently operates on $46 billion in budget allocations, but Trump’s proposed 2018 budget would cut $6 billion in HUD funding.

These cuts are dangerous for the working poor in the District who desperately need federal intervention to keep up with the housing prices, McCartin said.

“The budget cuts that have been proposed are a serious threat to the working poor, especially in cities like Washington, which are pricing poor people out of the housing market,” McCartin said. “The current political climate isn’t good for poor people, and there’s no denying that. We simply have to turn that around if we are going to have livable cities.”

 

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