WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — A day after DC News Now asked Mayor Muriel Bowser about the council’s frustrations with the DC Housing Authority (DCHA), the DC Council voted to take action on Tuesday.
The DC Council unanimously passed the Housing Authority Accountability Emergency Amendment Act of 2022, which was introduced by Councilmember Elissa Silverman.
“In response to a severe federal Department of Housing and Urban Development report. The report found that the authority’s executive director and many board members lack knowledge of public housing management and have not taken an active role in oversight,” Silverman said.
The US Housing and Urban Development (HUD) report had over 50 citations about issues within the Board of Commissioners, including lack of policies. The report also said that the DCHA failed to maintain safe and healthy conditions for residents.
Several councilmembers confirmed seeing disturbing conditions in public housing units in their wards, in the legislative session on Tuesday.
“I visited public housing buildings for seniors, over the summer, where only 6 of the 22 units were presently occupied,” Ward 4 Councilmember Janeese Lewis George said.
“Residents talk about the mice, that ran through their apartments, I talked with one resident who has duct taped their kitchen cabinets to try to help keep the mice from coming into the kitchen,” Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen said.
“The emergency bill…will increase training requirements for the DC housing authority’s board of commissioners, require frequent reporting on housing conditions and more,” Silverman said.
Mayor Bowser now has 10 days to sign or veto the bill.
Shortly after the vote, DCHA confirmed to DC News Now that Deputy Executive Director Victor Martinez resigned. They said that he had submitted his resignation in September before the HUD’s report earlier this month. His last day was Oct. 7.
“We are disappointed that the Council did not discuss the emergency legislation with the agency before presenting the proposal for a vote today. The agency has 60 days to respond to the HUD assessment report where we will support or dispute findings, observations and recommendations, and will create a corrective action plan, where applicable,” DCHA spokeswoman Sheila Lewis said.
The D.C. Housing Authority is open to providing the Council’s requested reports when the timing for submission is aligned with the normal HUD timeline and oversight process. Going forward, we welcome a collaborative conversation and are available to meet with any and all councilmembers to share our action steps as we are all working toward the same goal, to provide safe, affordable housing for those who need it most in the District.DCHA statement
The DCHA Board of Commissioners is scheduled to meet at 1:00 p.m. on Nov. 9. An agenda will be shared 48 hours before.