WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — The D.C. Council wrapped up its legislative meeting around 11:45 p.m. on Tuesday.
The District of Columba Housing Authority Stabilization and Reform Temporary Amendment Act of 2022 was near the end of the agenda. It’s the legislation proposed by Mayor Muriel Bowser, which calls for creating a new DC Housing Authority (DCHA) board to “replace the existing DCHA Board of Commissioners.”
The topic was pulled from the agenda that was posted for Tuesday’s legislative meeting.
“I’ve been paying attention to attendance here today — not everyone is present. I’ve also talked to members, and there are still a few members who are feeling some uneasiness,” Chairman Phil Mendelson said on Tuesday night. “I’m going to withdraw this today with the intention of bringing it back in two weeks.”
Hours before the vote was scheduled, there was opposition from Attorney General Karl Racine, some council members and others – including the presidents of more than a half dozen large tenant associations.
“There’s a concern in these larger apartment buildings, about the way these programs are conducted,” said Harry Gural, who is president of a Van Ness tenant association. “Our main point is we shouldn’t rush to replace the board.”
Gural is calling for the city to do more to change the housing authority’s flaws that were pointed out in a September federal report. DCHA is accused of failing to provide safe and sanitary housing.
“DCHA’s problems should be investigated, there should be public hearings. The public has got to catch up with what’s going on,” he said.
Mendelson addressed that concern, in Tuesday’s legislative meeting.
“There’s some folks who say we should embark on a lengthy process to decide a better governing structure, and while there’s a lot to be said for that, there will have to be permanent legislation at some point. Time is not on our side,” Mendelson said.
Mendelson indicated that morale is low within DCHA.
“The executive director who is there on a temporary basis is frustrated to the point that a few weeks ago, I had the impression that she might want to quit,” Mendelson said.
“Having affordable housing in the city, making a fair system is extremely important — but it can’t be done in the middle of the night on one night at the end of the session. This is something that’s going to take much more time and attention,” Gural said.
The next legislative meeting is scheduled for Dec. 20, at noon.