Transportation fared well in Mayor Gray’s budget, and it’s looking increasingly likely that Metrorail will skate through this budget year with few or no service cuts, but things are not so good for other areas:
One area of disproportionate cuts is in affordable housing, where the budget steals money out of the Housing Production Trust Fund (HPTF). This is no transfer payment program. It gives for-profit and non-profit developers loans to assist them in building affordable housing.
The construction financing market is tight, and it’s a lot harder to get financing for affordable housing developments even if they’re fiscally solid. If a developer can raise most of the money but not all, the HPTF lets them borrow the rest. On average, for each dollar coming from the HPTF, the developer has $3 of funding from other sources, so DC gets a 4:1 benefit for its investment.
The HPTF gets its money from DC’s deed and recordation taxes, which dropped in the recession. Now that the market is coming back, it was expected to grow, allowing developers to build affordable housing as the demand for construction increases. But Mayor Gray’s budget took away the increase, keeping it at its low recession level and withdrawing $18 million not only next year but in future years as well.
Times are tough, and transportation programs help all residents, rich and poor, which is why it’s good for DC to be making the investment. Education, public safety, and much more are also critical. But it’s also unfair and unreasonable to make budget cuts disproportionately hurt the neediest residents.
With so many tax breaks being given out to attract development and retailers that would have located in DC anyway, there are surely other options the DC Council can consider.
CSG is asking DC residents to contact the DC Council and ask them to share DC’s growth and prosperity with low and moderate income residents.