Councilmember David Grosso has proposed creating a separate Council committee for housing, saying it's "an important issue separate and apart from economic development."
"Regardless of changes in political leadership, creating and maintaining affordable housing in the District of Columbia must always be a top priority," Grosso and his legislative assistant Katrina Forrest said today in a blog post. "For this to happen, we must be willing to candidly discuss past policy failures, to improve on existing policies and to create better policies moving forward. ... D.C. has seen numerous housing initiatives started and stalled over the years. This reality necessitates a need for a comprehensive look at our housing policies and strategies to ensure that all D.C. residents have access to quality affordable housing."
The recommendation, one of several released today by the At-Large Councilmember, would remove housing oversight from the Committee on Economic Development, which is currently chaired by Ward 4 Councilmember Muriel Bowser.
"Creating a standalone Committee on Housing and Community Development will provide greater oversight of all housing related agencies including the Department of Housing & Community Development (DHCD), the District Housing Finance Agency (DCHFA), the District Housing Authority (DCHA) and others to ensure performance goals are being met and the creation and preservation of affordable housing is a top priority that is in line with all of the city’s housing strategies," Grosso and Forrest write. "Additionally, important aspects of the agencies responsible for providing services to the homeless will fall under the purview of this committee to ensure that the full spectrum of housing issues, from homelessness to homeownership, are prioritized.
Grosso's chief of staff says the Councilmember has not discussed the idea with Bowser or Council Chair Phil Mendelson. Request for comment from Bowser's office was not immediately returned.
Other recommendations include building a public housing database, as well as fee waivers and reductions for affordable housing development.