The Department of Human Services (DHS) has announced that Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) funds are expected to run out in May, and applications will close today. There are still seven months left in this fiscal year, and residents’ need for rental support is not going away anytime soon. I am calling on Mayor Bowser to address the gap in ERAP funding this fiscal year. Additionally, in my letter to the Mayor with asks for the Fiscal Year 2024 budget I called for $117 million in ERAP funding, a significant increase that residents desperately need. However, since ERAP is a one-time emergency assistance grant for people already facing eviction, we have to focus on broader systemic changes to ensure we have a safety net to catch people before they get to that point.
To that end, I’ve called on the Mayor to provide additional funds for housing vouchers set aside for seniors and to increase funding to the DC Affordable Housing Preservation Fund. In January I introduced the Common Ground Amendment Act: legislation to require more deeply affordable housing and family-sized units on projects developed on DC public lands. I’ve also asked the Mayor for $100 million a year for five years to repair our public housing units and get the nearly 2,000 units currently sitting vacant back in use by residents who need them. Additionally, I believe that we need funding to ensure DC is prepared to acquire multi-family buildings that will preserve affordable housing and reduce displacement.
This ERAP emergency points to bigger issues in a city where housing is largely unaffordable. I look forward to working with the Mayor and my colleagues on the Council to fund housing safety nets in the short-term and taking up the long-term effort of fixing the underlying problems.
Devon Haynes, Communications Director
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