Statement: Councilmember Robert White on Chairing the Housing Committee

I am incredibly honored to be assigned the Housing Committee in the proposal for committee leadership in the coming council period. I have been a member of the Housing Committee for the past six years and have worked to advance housing using every lever available to me during that time. I would like to thank Councilmember Anita Bonds for her work leading the Housing Committee for so many years. When I first got elected, I told residents that housing was one of my top issues and I am more than ready to take housing and homelessness on as my full committee focus.

As a fifth generation native Washingtonian, housing is personal to me. I have seen my own family displaced and priced out of the District. As an at-large councilmember I have the power to affect change and do something about the problems facing our city and with this committee chairmanship I will have more opportunities to turn housing around for District residents. Expect me to get things done in this role. I don’t believe in just saying “I disagree.” As an elected leader and chair of the Housing Committee, you will see me working to make positive change.

In recent years, I’ve looked for new ways to solve problems at the heart of the housing struggle in the District. In 2017, I sounded the alarm on a shortage of affordable housing, introducing a bill that would convert empty downtown office buildings into affordable housing. Additionally, I hear from residents all the time who have a justified perception that the District is giving away land. This year, I introduced the Common Ground Amendment Act to use public lands to create more affordable housing, build more multi-bedroom units for families, and increase community input so that development is driven by the needs of communities more than the desire of developers.

During my time chairing the Committee on Government Operations and Facilities, I’ve increased voucher funding for returning citizens and LGBTQ Washingtonians and put my committee’s budget toward the Local Rent Supplement Program and into the Emergency Rental Assistance Program. I’m also incredibly proud of my committee’s historic work last year to amend the District’s Human Rights Act to designate homelessness as a protected class. This made housing and employment discrimination against our homelessness neighbors—a very real barrier for people trying to find safety and opportunity—illegal.

I am fortunate to have an incredibly capable, passionate team that is known for getting things done for DC residents and I am energized about the way we can transform housing for everyone who needs it. This will be a massive undertaking, but I am grateful to the residents and advocates who have entrusted me with their thoughts and experiences navigating our system, and I will continue to proactively listen to those with lived experience as I take stock of urgent changes needed in our agencies.

This job calls for deep connection with residents and dogged oversight, and I am ready to get to work.

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