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After more than seven years at the helm of the region’s biggest affordable-housing landlord, D.C. Housing Authority Executive Director Adrianne Todman is leaving to head a nonprofit group focused on community development.
The D.C.-based National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials announced Monday that Todman will join the professional organization June 1 as chief executive officer following a nationwide search. Todman exits the local housing authority as federal funding for public housing continues to decline.
President Donald Trump‘s administration has proposed decreasing subsidies for public housing even more—to the tune of $6 billion out of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s budget next fiscal year. This would eliminate certain grants, including the Community Development Block Grant, which supports a wide range of local programs such as infrastructure improvements and home-purchase assistance.
The cuts are poised to take a bite out of DCHA’s ability to maintain its 8,000 public housing units, which house roughly 20,000 tenants. Many of these units are in great disrepair. DCHA also provides vouchers across almost 13,000 private units. Meanwhile, the wait-list for D.C. public housing remains high, at around 40,000 applicants.
DCHA says in a release that its “board is planning a transition plan” for Todman’s departure. It has not announced her successor yet.
Todman has called public housing “part of the infrastructure of America” in testimony to the D.C. Council and repeatedly warned officials about the human cost of not providing decent housing to low-income people.
“The good news is that we’re talking about housing,” she told City Paper in 2012, after spikes in foreclosure risk for moderate-income American homeowners. “The bad news, for me, is that that’s the conversation. It’s not the expansion of affordable housing or the preservation of it. It’s ‘how do you save the middle-class housing stock,’ which we have to, in order to salvage the economy. But it’s sucked the oxygen out of the room for conversations about the folks I serve, who weren’t popular to begin with.”
A DCHA spokesman said a release on Todman’s move would be forthcoming. In addition to administering housing vouchers for low-income residents, DCHA under Todman has worked with three different mayors on the District’s New Communities Initiative, launched under former Mayor Tony Williams as a way to renovate derelict public housing sites into mixed-income developments. There are four NCI sites throughout the city at various stages of redevelopment, from zoning approval to relocating tenants to groundbreakings. In total, DHCA owns and manages more than 55 properties.
Todman replaced former DCHA director Michael Kelly, who resigned after reportedly facing pressure from then-Mayor Adrian Fenty, and Fenty’s associates, in 2009. An ex-HUD official, she has prioritized housing homeless veterans, using New Market Tax Credits to incentivize development, and expanding technology access to DCHA residents. Under Todman, DCHA has also faced criticism from affordable-housing advocates for selling single-family homes it owned to produce revenue, and from animal advocates for restricting tenants’ pet ownership.
DCHA’s long wait-list for housing has also stirred consternation, as some families have remained on the list for decades. The authority has tried streamlining the process. “Something has to change,” Todman admitted in 2012. “We’ve reached a level of insanity with this waiting list.”
In a statement, NAHRO President Steve Merritt says Todman is “an exceptional choice” to direct the organization. “The Board and I are excited to usher in an era of new leadership at NAHRO,” Merrit says. The nonprofit includes more than 20,000 agencies serving 8 million people.
This post has been updated with additional details from DCHA.