Credit: Darrow Montgomery

On Saturday, an 18-member group of affordable-housing experts formed by Mayor Muriel Bowser last year released six policy recommendations to help the administration keep rental units within reach of D.C.’s lower-income residents.

The “Housing Preservation Strike Force” rolled out a mix of financial and programatic strategies in advance of a report expected later this month. The group has sought to identify ways to maintain affordable housing in properties that are set to lose their government subsidies in the next few years, in part by establishing affordability covenants. Preserving affordable units is considered cheaper and more efficient than creating them from scratch, which can take a few years.

According to the mayor’s office, the strike force’s six recommendations are:

  • Establishing a preservation unit within a D.C. agency to identify specific affordable-housing opportunities, and to create a database of affordable-housing units
  • Funding a “public-private preservation fund” to “facilitate early investments in preservation deals”
  • Launching a program to renovate affordable housing in “small properties” of between five and 50 units
  • Drafting additional regulations for the District Opportunity to Purchase Act, which allows D.C. to purchase properties that risk losing their affordable-housing subsidies
  • Incentivizing residents and developers to take advantage of the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act through “predevelopment activities, legal services, third-party reports, acquisition bridge financing,” and data-collection
  • Creating programs designed to benefit seniors, such as “tenant-based vouchers or other rental assistance”

In a statement, Bowser said she was looking forward to receiving the group’s final report so that her administration could “capitalize on opportunities to protect our affordable-housing stock.” On Friday, the mayor announced a pilot program that aims to preserve affordable housing in Ward 8 by offering small-property landlords in “good standing” with the District government low-interest rate loans. The loans, of up to $25,000 per unit, would be used for repairs.