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Supporters of an initiative legalizing marijuana in D.C. say they’ll turn in their proposed ballot language by the end of the week. But pot might not be the only issue on the ballot in November, with the Board of Elections meeting today to consider putting up for a vote an initiative that would guarantee housing to District residents.
If it wins ballot approval and passes in the fall, the Right to Housing Act of 2014 would require the District to provide housing for anyone who’s homeless or makes less than $40,000 a year. If the District couldn’t provide housing to someone, they could sue the city.
The initiative is being considered two months after Vince Gray announced a plan to build 3,200 affordable housing units.
“Last year, the city said they had a $400 million surplus,” said witness Michael Coleman, who said he’s struggled with homelessness. “Well, that means nothing to me.”
Unfortunately for the initiative’s backers, their chances of winning approval from the board look slim. Initiatives can’t force the District to appropriate money, which building enough housing to guarantee shelter for anyone earning less than $40,000 would certainly require.
DCBOE spokeswoman Tamara Robinson wasn’t sure when the board would have a decision on the initiative, but board chair Deborah Nichols all but acknowledged that the initiative didn’t meet the rules to get on the ballot.
“I understand that we are limited in what we can do, but we will certainly do everything within our power and authority,” Nichols told the activists.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery