DC Council members call on mayor, feds to up aid for renters facing eviction

Members of the D.C. Council introduced a resolution Thursday calling on Mayor Muriel Bowser and the U.S. Treasury to boost funding to prevent evictions in the District.

The fact that the city’s popular rent assistance program is out of federal money and the deadline to file for help was Wednesday is of particular concern.

In a statement, John Falcicchio, the city’s deputy mayor for planning and economic development, said the STAY DC program has received 58,799 applications from tenants and 37,734 applications from housing providers in advance of the deadline.

The nonbinding resolution asks the Treasury to work “expeditiously to provide the District with additional emergency rental assistance funds” and declares Bowser “should use local funding options to prevent an imminent eviction crisis” by increasing money in D.C.’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program.

“The District currently faces an affordable housing crisis which has contributed to the displacement of more than 20,000 Black residents in the past decade,” the resolution reads. “Even before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly half of the District’s renters were rent-burdened and one-quarter of renters were severely rent burdened, spending more than half their income on housing.”

The resolution goes on to state that the COVID-19 pandemic made the situation even more unstable — and continues to do so.

“STAY DC has successfully assisted more than 20,000 households to date yet thousands more remain in need of assistance, and needs will persist through Fiscal Year 2022,” the resolution reads.

D.C. has “significant financial resources available to prevent an eviction crisis,” the resolution stated, noting that while more federal funds are pending, and Bowser can initiate spending local money.

The resolution was signed by 10 council members.

Before the deadline to file passed, Bowser also asked the Treasury to move quickly in reallocating leftover money from other places across the country that could be used to help District residents.

However, according to the resolution, the Treasury has informed District leaders that additional federal rental assistance reallocated from other areas with unused funds might not be available until March 2022.

Over the weekend, protesters rallied outside the John Wilson building, saying that it was too early for a deadline on rental assistance applications.

D.C. was allocated $352 million in federal emergency rental assistance, which includes funding through the American Rescue Plan.

If additional funding is granted, Falcicchio told WTOP it would be used to make sure D.C. funds all STAY DC applications submitted by the deadline, and the rest would be used to “bolster with additional funding those programs that existed before the pandemic.”

If residents still need rental assistance, they can apply for aid through the emergency rental assistance program, Falcicchio said.

WTOP’s Jack Moore and Valerie Bonk contributed to this report.

Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Writer/Editor for WTOP.com. He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

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