(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Bowser cut the ribbon at the Fort Chaplin Park Apartments, an affordable housing preservation project in the Benning neighborhood of Ward 7, delivering 549 mostly family-sized units for low- to moderate-income households. The project is a result of tenants invoking their rights under the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) and working with a developer to expand the property’s affordability. It is the largest tax-exempt bond, preservation deal in the District’s history.
“When we set housing goals, yes, we are talking numbers, but what we are really talking about are people and families – families who have lived in DC for generations and want to be able to continue doing so,” said Mayor Bowser. “If the Council goes through with slashing critical affordable housing investments – including completely eliminating the much-needed Housing Preservation and Workforce Housing Funds – it will slow down the progress we have made, prevent us from reaching our housing goals, and lead to the displacement of more residents. Today, we celebrate what the tenants at Fort Chaplin have done for their community, but we also call on the Council to restore funding for our affordable housing programs so that more Washingtonians can have this opportunity.”
Yesterday, the DC Council made substantial cuts to much-needed affordable housing investments included in Mayor Bowser’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget proposal, including:
- Decreasing the Housing Production Trust Fund by $10 million to $120 million total;
- Eliminating the $20 million Workforce Housing Fund, which the Mayor created to provide affordable housing for teachers, firefighters, social workers, and other people who serve the District; and
- Eliminating the $15 million Housing Preservation Fund, which was on track to preserve 900 affordable housing units in 2019;
The Fort Chaplin Park Apartments, located at 4212 East Capitol Street NE, was previously only 70 percent affordable—without a long-term affordability restriction—and in need of substantive repair. After invoking TOPA, the Chaplin Hope Tenant Association selected Standard Communities as their development partner. Together, they implemented a $94 million acquisition and renovation plan financed with $61 million in tax-exempt debt issued by the DC Housing Finance Agency (DCHFA), and $30.2 million in 4% Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTCs). The DC Department of Housing and Community Development acted as official tax credit administrator.
Through the redevelopment, the community became 100 percent affordable—all 549 units are designated for households making no more than $54,300 (60 percent of the Median Family Income [MFI])—and maintains that affordability for at least 30 years. The unit mix also includes 130 D.C. Housing Choice Vouchers. Standard also worked with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to transfer a Section 8 Rental subsidy from a Virginia property to 72 units at Fort Chaplin Park (HUD generally does not allow the transfer of Section 8 rental assistance across state lines).
Last week, Mayor Bowser signed a Mayor’s Order on housing directing District agencies to identify new policies, tools, and initiatives to begin fulfilling her bold goal of creating 36,000 new housing units, 12,000 of them affordable, by 2025. In the Mayor’s first term, the District was able to produce or preserve more than 7,200 units of affordable housing using a variety of tools and programs. The proposed increases in the FY 2020 budget, which the Council either reduced or eliminated, would have allowed the District to build on and accelerate this progress.