Category Archives: HAT meetings

Information about monthly HAT meetings.

The Housing Advocacy Team: “Bigger and Better Each Year”

Several weeks ago in the sweltering July heat, a group of people with a common interest in affordable housing gathered at MANNA’s headquarters in Northeast DC. They shared a couple pizzas, celebrated their recent First Annual Homeownership Town Hall, and talked about the issues facing their city: housing prices, evictions, racism.

It was a low-key event, lacking the fine dining and press coverage of many District political meetings. Mayor Bowser’s recent pitch to Republican leaders in Cleveland, for instance, featured salmon with a side of national media attention.

But given the group’s record, the press might have been wise to also snag a slice in Northeast.

That group is the Housing Advocacy Team, or HAT, a collection of individuals who are passionate about making DC homes affordable. Many of them became connected with HAT through MANNA’s homebuyer program. Others turned to HAT for help in tricky situations and then decided to stick around.

Together, the group has helped support some of the biggest wins DC has seen in affordable housing.

Through their work with the Coalition for Non-Profit Housing and Economic Development (CNHED), the yearly Housing for All rally has grown from just dozens of participants at its inception to over 1,000 people this year.

The Housing for All Campaign’s success is reflected in the $100 million directed to the Housing Protection Trust Fund in both 2015 and 2016. That money will expand the impact of the Trust Fund, which has supplied funding for projects that currently house over 18,000 District residents.

HAT and the Housing for All Campaign saw another win this spring, as their push led to the Home Purchase Assistance Program (HPAP) receiving a massive funding increase. HPAP, DC’s first time homebuyer loan program, got a bump of $6 million—a more than 60% raise. The money will go to interest-free loans as high as $80K for first time homebuyers.

But the Team has no interest in resting on its laurels. HAT will be meeting soon to decide on priorities for the next year’s advocacy cycle, and there will be an event in the second week of September for people unfamiliar with HAT to learn more and become involved.

“I hope [HAT] is around forever,” says Victoria Palacio, a HAT member. “Well, as long as it’s needed. If HAT can continue to address the problem to where there’s no longer an affordable housing issue in DC, that would be great. But as long as there is a need… [we’ll] continue to have events that are bigger and better each year.”

Although there are still no plans for salmon at the meetings, reporters would do well to mark those words. HAT hasn’t been in the business of empty promises.


If you’re interested in learning more about affordable housing and the political process in DC, follow @hatdc on twitter and the Housing Advocacy Team on facebook. And look for specifics on the event in September!

Debt- The New American Past TIme

According to new studies produced by the Urban Institute, Americans are in debt – a lot of it. The average adult American with a credit file has an average of $50,000 in debt, and more than one third of those Americans, about 77 million, have had at least some of those debts in collection last year. The report is based on data from TransUnion, one of the three major credit reporting agencies. For a debt to be passed on to a collection agency, it must be more than 180 days past due. This report also revealed that geography played a major role in identifying where the larger indebted individuals live. The national average for debts in collection was $5,178.

When looking at the study, metro areas with higher density have significantly higher debt levels. This is understandable because the cost of living (housing and necessities) tend to be more expensive, also these areas typically have a higher concentration of college graduates; meaning more mortgage and student loan debt. However, these forms of debt are typically considered “good” forms of debt, because homeownership is an asset and studies have shown that higher education usually leads to increased earning potential over a lifetime. When mortgage based debt was removed, the maps painted a very different picture: the majority of heavily indebted, in collection debt was in the southern region of the country. This suggests these areas do not have access to the same amount of resources and opportunities as the rest of the country, requiring individuals to take on more consumer debt.

Twelve states have debt delinquency rates above 40%, and eleven of those states are in the south. Large amounts of debt and debt delinquency are extremely difficult for individuals to manage, usually leading to a drop in a person’s credit score, lack of access to credit, and can even restrict employment opportunities.

Counseling and training continues to one of the most effective measures for helping individuals not only understand, but manage and tackle their debt. Manna’s Homebuyer Club, a program that provides various forms of credit counseling and homebuyer education, is a great example of a program that meets people where they are, and empowering them along the road of success.


Part 1: The Next Housing Crisis

Americans, barely recovered from the financial crisis of 2008, may be heading down the same path once again. In an article written by Ben Hallman and Jillian Berman of the Huffington Post, housing and consumer advocates warn that Wall Street has created another potentially devastating financial product that threatens to crash the housing market once again. This concern is not without merit. Many companies have begun to show interest in issuing bonds backed by rental agreements, a financial product that eerily resembles the mortgage-backed securities that fueled the housing crash of 2008. As disturbing as this specific problem may be, there are equally disturbing dynamics at play within this situation that could make this potential bubble far more devastating.

First, due to the financial crisis of 2008, lenders have become extremely conservative, making it difficult for many credit worthy borrowers to get loans and thus allowing all cash investors to come in and accumulate a large number of properties that they rent out. Pre-crisis, lenders were giving loans to anyone with a pulse, which drove home prices up; now it is the complete opposite, so much so that we are seeing the same effects. Because lending has tightened, but demand is high, home prices again are rising at an unsustainable pace (as well as rental prices).

Allowing cash investors to swoop into housing markets has created a false recovery. The housing market hasn’t actually recovered – it’s more so investors purchasing properties at an alarming rate, which will cause its own set of problems. Some of these problems include construction quality issues as many investors focus more on the cosmetics of their properties and fail to address structural issues like mold and plumbing.

Lastly, these new bonds would be backed by rental incomes. So, similar to the housing collapse of 2008, if consumers are unable to pay their rents, including for reasons associated with the product itself, another bubble that is just now being created will burst.

We need to cut this new bubble off at its knees… (To be continued with a post on March 6).

Fall 2013: Join our Housing Advocacy Team!

The Housing Advocacy Team core recently met for a retreat, in order to refocus on our mission, “… to join with others to create a constituency of concerned neighbors and friends who will act as a powerful voice to influence public policy and resource allocation for affordable housing and asset building in the District, with a particular focus on affordable homeownership.”

During the retreat, it was evident each member of the core team is committed to affordable housing advocacy. Their tenacity for advocacy comes from experience across the Continuum of Housing. As a team, strength comes from diversity and unity emerges around the mission. Here’s what the Manna Housing Advocacy Team will be doing this fall 2013 season:

1.) Meeting every second Monday of the month at Manna, Inc.: 6:30 p.m. @ 828 Evarts St. NE Washington, DC 20012

*Dinner & childcare is provided for all attendees

*RSVP’s should be sent to

*To get on our mailing list please e-mail

2.) Participating in the DC council public hearings and giving testimony on the following housing issues:

*Testifying on Inclusionary Zoning regulations on ownership units in the District

*Gathering signatures and support for making it possible for current residents who live in Wards 7 & 8 purchase homes over the next 1-2 years as a part of Manna’s East of the River Homeownership Campaign

*Support Affordable Dwelling Unit condo owners who purchased their units with HPAP funds to ensure they have flexibility to sell or rent their units if needed

*Join with the Housing for All campaign and CNHED’s efforts to work on any housing justice issues which arise across the housing continuum

Working and advocating for homeownership is essential for low-to-moderate income buyers in DC. Homeownership allows for people to build equity, invest in their neighborhood and gives them a tool to fight against generational poverty. Urban Turf recently reported $47,640 is needed to rent a single-bedroom apartment in DC. Meanwhile, residents can own their own home for much less than they can rent. As costs continue to increase, Manna’s housing advocacy team is focused on working with CNHED to ensure home ownership remains a possibility.

Some upcoming policy propositions take away low-to-moderate income person’s ability to purchase a home by increasing down payment requirements to 10%. This increase would deny credit worthy families from purchasing their own home. The Center for Responsible Lending wrote, “Mandated down payment levels would harm lower-wealth households, including a disproportionate number of African-American and Latino households…. With households of color accounting for an estimated 70% of household growth through 2023, down payment mandates could exclude a large portion of the market from accessing affordable mortgages”. (See article below to read more).

In order for the Housing Advocacy Team to continue to fight for home ownership and other affordable housing justice issues in DC, we need to grow our numbers! The only thing missing from the team’s most recent retreat was you! Please plan to join us for one of our monthly meetings or contact us for more information at

Click the blue link below to read more of the article referenced above: 2013 Big Lie Debunking CRL-Down-Payment-Mandates-Would-Harm-the-Economy-Credit-Worthy-Families-August-13-2013

Housing Task Force Report Released

Dear Dedicated and Faithful HAT members,

Thank you for all of the time, energy and effort you committed to being at the Housing Task Force meetings in which you shared public testimony during two different hearings held in November 2013. Thank you for supporting the Continuum of Housing and for listening to your fellow neighbors share their testimonies!

We are happy to let you know that the Housing Task Force Report has been released. There are a couple of important reccomendations the Task Force made:

1.) Preserving approximately 8,000 existing affordable housing units with subsidies that will expire by the year 2020.

2.) Producing and preserving 10,000 net new affordable housing units by the year 2020 (10 by 20).

3.) Supporting the production of 3,000 market rate housing units annually through 2020.

Also, please note:

4.) HAT’s testimonies on ADU restrictions led to reccomendation for study and scrutiny of the ADU program.

The report can be located by following this link: Housing Task Force Report.  Please take time to read the report! If you pay close attention you’ll see pictures of Manna’s very own folks on page 3 of the report: Eugene Griffin, Billy Hart, Sarah and Robert Cooke are all pictured at the top of the page!

We have much more work to do but this is a good step in the right direction.

With sincere gratitude,

The Manna Team

Needed: Youth Voices


Youth Civic Engagement Project

The Need: Affordable Housing needs continue to grow in the District of Columbia, while the funds available for affordable housing dwindle. In 2011, 47,500 households in DC spent at least half of their income on housing in 2007. Lower income residents are being squeezed out by higher rental and home prices (currently, the median rent is $1500 for a 2-bedroom apartment) and there is lower public funding/downpayment loans for all types of affordable housing

Last year there were about $30 million dollars in cuts made to the budget by the Mayor. Because of the strong advocacy of Manna, Inc.’s Housing Advocacy Team, in partnership with the Housing for All campaign run through the Coalition for Non-Profit Housing and Economic Development, the City Council chose to restore $25 million to the budget.

We need more youth voices!! You have powerful insight & experience to contribute to our HAT team!  

Who: Talented High-School Aged young folks (13-21) who are interested in advocating for affordable housing

What: Meet once a month with HAT, work to increase our knowledge of affordable housing, write public testimonies and have opportunities to give testimonies before City officials

When: Once a month in February, March & April with opportunity to give public testimony in mid-April & May

Where: Please plan to join in our next month’s meeting on Monday, March 11th from 6:30-8:00 p.m. Dinner provided!!

Contact Person:  Diane Spaite-202-832-1845 ext. 252

Come to the HAT Holiday Party – Celebrating Advocacy Successes!

Please join us at the HAT Holiday Party on Monday, December 12th at 6:30 pm. We’re going to celebrate our collective advocacy successes, made possible by people like you, over dinner, desserts and a live DJ! Childcare will also be provided.

Please RSVP with Shiv at or 202-534-1057 before the close of business on Friday, December 9th.  We will need to order adequate amounts food and refreshments for the party.  Also, we encourage you to bring your kids and friends; please just let us know ahead of time. The address is 828 Evarts Street, NE Washington DC.  We are two blocks from the Rhode Island Avenue Metro Station.