Change is coming to the leadership of the District’s troubled public housing system.
By two, separate 9-to-4 votes, the D.C. Council approved bills that dismissed nine of the 13 members of the D.C. Housing Authority’s Board of Commissioners and created a new eight-member temporary stabilization and reform board.
Mayor Muriel Bowser asked for the change earlier this month, following a harshly critical federal report of the District’s public housing. The October report by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development found that D.C. is “failing to provide decent, safe and sanitary” public housing.
“We have to reform the board, we have to reform the agency, and we have to perform oversight from the council,” At-Large Council member Robert White said.
The 72-page report from HUD also found the DC Housing authority in disarray.
Some council members who opposed the measure favored pending legislation that would bring more comprehensive changes to the entire D.C. Housing Authority instead.
“We have known about the deplorable housing conditions and DCHA dysfunction for decades … the alarm has been on, to my mind, since at least 1994, but we tune it out,” At-Large Council member Elissa Silverman said.
Silverman sought assurance that creating a new temporary board would help.
“There’s every reason to believe that bringing a new board into place, that the board will not have the dysfunction that has grown over the years with the current board,” Council Chairman Phil Mendelson said.
Bowser’s Dec. 2 letter to the council said that the new, two-year temporary board will make recommendations to create the infrastructure necessary to ensure safe, decent, affordable housing for D.C. residents.