The DC Latino Caucus is dismayed by the news that the DC Department of Housing and Community Development has decided to make a 28% across-the-board cut to funds granted to local housing counseling service providers and advocates for those facing housing challenges. Not only have the cuts been made without regard to organizational performance or effectiveness, and after the start of the fiscal year, the cuts will also disproportionately affect Latino seniors and families who are among the city’s most vulnerable residents.
The nearly $3.5 million in budget cuts will hurt those facing increasing pressures from gentrification, multi-family property sales, loss of rent-controlled and rent-stabilized units, and housing discrimination.
Of the top 10 organizations that will be hit the hardest by these cuts, some provide resources and technical assistance to primarily Latino residents such as Mi Casa, Central American Resource Center and the Latino Economic Development Center. Almost all of the others (Housing Counseling Services, AARP Legal Counsel for the Elderly, Greater Washington Urban League, Marshall Heights Community Development Organization, University Legal Services, and Lydia’s House) provide bilingual services.
Many of our Latino residents struggle to maintain their homes or keep their apartments. In fact, Washington, DC is one of the cities where it would take multiple minimum wage jobs to afford the average two bedroom unit.
And while two thirds of low-income residents are rent burdened, the city has seen fit to subsidize real estate development projects and developers that are the least in need of funding.
The list of actions that this Administration has taken with respect to funding housing development and preservation is unequal at best and, at worst, hostile to maintaining an economically diverse population. From inclusionary zoning to the use of the Housing Production Trust Fund, the city has been slow in expanding access to deeply affordable housing.
Our city can and should do better. The DCLC encourages its members and supporters to contact their council members, the Department of Housing and Community Development, and the Mayor's office to urge them to take the necessary steps to preserve funding for this important program.