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Mayor Gray and Comprehensive Housing Strategy Task Force Members Release Report

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Mayor Gray and Comprehensive Housing Strategy Task Force Members Release Report

Outlines District’s Path Forward to Boost Availability of Affordable Housing


(WASHINGTON, DC) –Mayor Vincent C. Gray today announced the release of “Bridges to Opportunity: A New Housing Strategy for DC” – the report produced by the District’s recently reformulated Comprehensive Housing Strategy Task Force. The Mayor and other District officials will use it to inform their approach to the challenge of boosting the availability of, and access to, affordable housing in the District.

“The goal of the Comprehensive Housing Strategy Task Force was to help city leaders ensure the creation of more affordable housing in the District – because every District resident deserves a decent, safe and affordable place to live,” said Mayor Gray. “The recent work of this task force, co-chaired by two exceptional public and private-sector leaders, is to be commended. Their findings and recommendations outlined in this new report will provide significant assistance to District leaders as we create future budgets and determine the best ways to allocate $100 million in new revenues for the production and preservation of affordable housing in our city. I cannot thank members of the task force enough for their service to the District, which will continue as we make our ambitious affordable-housing goals a reality for the residents of this city.”

Mayor Gray re-established the task force in February of 2012 and named DC Housing Finance Agency Director Harry D. Sewell and private real-estate developer Deborah Ratner Salzberg as co-chairs. He was joined for today’s announcement by the co-chairs and nearly two dozen task force members at The Summit at St. Martin’s, a Catholic Charities housing development located in Ward 5. There, Mayor Gray thanked task force members, highlighted his intent to review the report, and reiterated his intention to find the best way to allocate $100 million in new District revenues toward the production and preservation of affordable housing in the District.

“As co-chairs, we have been honored to work with such an accomplished and engaged group of task-force members to address the complex challenge of meeting the housing needs of the city’s diverse population,” said Ratner Salzberg and Sewell. “Over the past year, the task force and its working groups met over 30 times, engaged the public in two forums and utilized a series of internal and outside experts to explore persistent hurdles, identify best practices and build consensus around specific actions that can be taken in the near term to have a practical and ongoing impact on the lives of District residents.”

In addition to the co-chairs, The Community Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness Executive Director Sue Marshall; Coalition for Nonprofit Housing and Community Development Executive Director Robert Pohlman; and Local Initiatives Support Corporation of Washington, DC Executive Director Oramenta F. Newsome all spoke on behalf of the task force’s members about using their various sector approaches to affordable housing to aid with preparation of the report. Also speaking at the announcement was Catholic Charities Housing and Support Services Director Luis Vasquez, who discussed The Summit at St. Martin’s integration of workforce, housing and specialized-case-management services.

Mayor Gray’s Fiscal Year 2013 Supplemental Budget and Fiscal Year 2014 Budget submissions will soon reflect the application of the task force’s recommendations and more. Once finalized, a summary and full version of the task force’s report will be made available to the public.

About the Comprehensive Strategy Task Force

The District’s Comprehensive Strategy Task Force, which is mandated by law, was resurrected by the Gray Administration in a February 2012 announcement at the groundbreaking for The Nannie Helen at 4800, an affordable rental housing development in Ward 7 that features ground-floor retail. The task force held its inaugural meeting in early March of 2012 followed by monthly meetings through January of 2013. In addition, 20 working-group meetings and two public meetings were held prior to March of 2013.

The 2012 task force was composed of 36 members, including the co-chairs. Sewell has more than 30 years of public- and private-sector housing experience. Ratner Salzberg serves as a member of the board of directors for Forest City Enterprises and is president of Forest City Washington. She has worked extensively in project development – including project zoning, financing and construction – and is a member of the California Bar.

The Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the DC Housing Finance Agency to allocate $75,000 in funding to assist the task force in accomplishing its goals.