DC Council Unanimously Passes McDuffie’s Affordable Housing and Solid Waste Bills

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Today, the Council of the District of Columbia unanimously passed three bills introduced by Councilmember McDuffie.

The “Disposition of Land for Affordable Housing Amendment Act of 2013” will require affordable housing set-asides whenever District-owned land is disposed of for  multi-family residential development consisting of 10 or more units.  “Today, the Council made great strides to provide housing options for residents across all income levels,” stated McDuffie. “Although I wish the bill went further, I was pleased that we were able to pass a bill that leverages one of the District’s greatest assets, our public land, to require the inclusion of affordable units in all future residential developments on previously-owned government land.” Specifically, the bill requires at least 30% of the new units must be affordable if the property is near a Metro station, major bus route, or streetcar line. All other developments using public land will be required to include a 20% affordable unit set-aside.  Moreover, the guidelines set forth in the bill are designed to create mixed income buildings. For rental properties, the affordable units must accommodate two categories of residents: those earning up to 30% of Area Median Income (AMI) and those earning up to 50% AMI. Ownership units will also be divided to produce mixed income residences, with a set-aside for those earning up to 50% AMI and another set-aside for residents earning up to 80% AMI.

In addition, the Council approved the “Truth in Affordability Reporting Act of 2013” on its first reading. The bill would require the District to measure the affordability of housing projects against the District’s Median Family Income in addition to the federal Area Median Income (AMI) standard. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires the District to use AMI, a statistical measurement that represents the average income of households in the District combined with Maryland and Virginia suburbs. By including these extremely wealthy suburbs, average incomes for the metro area skew upward. The bill would require the Mayor’s Affordable Housing Database to track housing data by both measures to give a fair representation of whether housing built in the District is truly affordable to District residents. The bill will go before the full Council for its final reading on Tuesday, November 18, 2014.

Lastly, the “Solid Waste Facility Permit Amendment Act of 2014” passed on its final reading. The bill is important, especially to Ward 5, because it will require the District Department of the Environment and the Department of Consumer & Regulatory Affairs to conduct quarterly inspections of each solid waste facility and ensure that solid waste is properly processed, enclosed, and disposed of, and that nuisance odors are eliminated. To reduce the impact of the facilities on the surrounding neighborhoods, facilities will be required to close at 7:00 p.m., rather than 10:00 p.m., and a more enhanced public comment process will take place on permit renewal applications.

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