A housing task force recommends that Washington, D.C., add about 55,000 housing units by 2020 – with about one-third affordable housing – to help the city add 100,000 residents.


The task force was formed by the D.C. mayor and council in 2003 and met in 2004 and 2005 to develop a 15-year plan for improving the housing of residents and providing better access to affordable housing.


The task force report, “Homes for an Inclusive City: A Comprehensive Housing Strategy for Washington, D.C.,” was released April 5.


Among the recommendations: The city should double the current level of spending on housing from $3 billion to $6 billion between now and 2020.


“The city must give priority to preserving at least 30,000 existing affordable units including all federally assisted housing,” according to the report. The District should support a balanced growth policy which allows for “increased population densities and mixed income, mixed-use development along major corridors and at transit stops and approve a mandatory inclusionary zoning requirement for all new housing.”


The city should also work to increase its homeownership rate from 41 percent to 44 percent “and provide more assistance to tenants seeking to purchase their units.” Also, “the city should directly assist an additional 14,600 extremely low-income renter households by adopting a local rent supplement program,” according to the report.


The city has a role to play, too, in transforming public and assisting housing projects “into viable mixed-income neighborhoods. The city should pursue its efforts to convert the numerous large parcels of land into new neighborhoods with housing affordable to all income levels.”


Housing for persons with special needs should be integrated into different types of housing in neighborhoods throughout the city, according to the report, and 8 percent of all units in the city should be accessible to people with physical disabilities.


“The mayor and council should designate a member of the cabinet as chief of housing, charged with improving, streamlining, and coordinating the actions of the several city housing agencies,” the report also states. “Equally critical to attracting and retaining residents are much needed improvements in schools, public safety, health care, recreation facilities, transportation, and air and water quality.”


Among the revenue sources: increase the deed recordation and transfer tax and dedicate a portion to the city’s Housing Trust Fund; earmark 5 percent of the increase in revenue from residential real estate taxes for use by the trust fund; assess an additional fee or fees for some types of commercial and residential developments.


The D.C. mayor and council “should act immediately on these recommendations,” according to the report.


The task force included representatives from developers and builders, the Urban Land Institute, the Fannie Mae Foundation, the D.C. Housing Authority, D.C. Office of Planning, the Brookings Institution, and the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development, and the National Alliance to End Homelessness, among other agencies.


What’s your opinion? Send your Letter to the Editor to glenn@inman.com; (510) 658-9252, ext. 137.

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