9. Rent Subsidy in DC

[How many people receive rent subisidy] in your city (including the rich)?

[A semantic issue: if you rent out a house and the landlord gets tax breaks on their mortgage interest rate is not everyone getting a tertiary/’trickle down’ subsidy, assuming that the cost of financing home ownership gets passed on to tenant?]

I currently live in the District of Columbia. The housing authority (DCHA) has a housing voucher program reaching approximately 10,500 people, with another 20,000 residents in public housing. Groups like Mi Casa and Manna offer affordable home ownership opportunities in the district (full disclosure, I worked at Manna in the past). Rental stabilization (rent control) is run through DHCD and has blanket coverage over rental units with the following exemptions:

  • Federally or District-subsidized
  • Built after 1975
  • Owned by a natural person (i.e., not a corporation) who owns no more than four rental units in the District
  • Vacant when the Act took effect

The ‘built after 1975’ is the real driver of change in the city, as massive amounts of development no longer need comply with rent stabilization. Inclusionary zoning, if you qualify based on your income, offers the opportunity to rent a unit in a new development (post 2007, see GGW for more information on the program).

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