Affordable Homeownership Bill

In December 2013, Councilmember Anita Bonds and Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie introduced the Affordable Homeownership Preservation and Equity Accumulation Amendment Act of 2013, an option derived through several years of compromise and cooperation that 1) recognizes different markets in DC, 2) gives lower income homeowners access to their equity sooner, and 3) recaptures city subsidies and recycles them to produce more affordable units. On October 28, 2014, this legislation passed its final reading at the DC City Council. Implementation for newly constructed affordable homes began in 2015.

Background

The District government helps create affordable homeownership opportunity by using public dollars to subsidize new housing developments. Often times, rather than having the low-income buyer pay the full amount back, these subsidies are forgiven over a period of time. Currently, the lengthy 15 year resale restrictions deter buyers and create difficulty for developers and lenders, particularly in the neighborhoods that most badly need homeownership improvements. Low-to-moderate income households realize that limited equity access during the restricted period strips much of the potential benefits of traditional homeownership.

Affordable homeownership has the power to transform neighborhoods and low-to-moderate income households, creating the opportunity for wealth building,  breaking cycles of poverty and dependency, and new multi-generational homeowners across the city.

Scope of legisation

This legislation reduces these resale restrictions in “distressed” areas of the city, to a reasonable 5 year maximum, and  requires city subsidies and any preexisting equity to be repaid on future sale to help produce more units across the District.

Distressed Areas include census tracts that a have poverty rate of 20% or higher based on the most recent American Communities Survey data, and the District government can add or subtract tracts based on other factors.

Legislative Impact

1) Recognizes that there are different neighborhoods in DC, and therefore different dynamics for affordable homeownership development and purchase.

2) Preserves affordable housing through maintaining 15 year resale restrictions in non-distressed areas and creating 5 year restrictions in distressed areas.

3) Increases wealth generation for low-to-moderate income homeowners through the access of equity within a reasonable time frame. The access to equity is currently restricted during the resale restricted period – Manna and Habitat for Humanity found that 80% of their buyers over 30 years are still living in their homes; these people are not speculators.

4) Rewards homebuyers who take the risk of purchasing in distressed neighborhoods.

5) Provides flexibility for homeowners with growing family or new opportunities.

6) Promotes commercial and residential investment in distressed neighborhoods by not artificially depressing prices.

7) Helps affordable homeownership developers not go into long-term debt because of unsold property in distressed neighborhoods.

8) Contributes to future affordable housing development through subsidy recapture.

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