WASHINGTON, DC (DC News Now) – The District Council is considering significant changes to a DC housing program, but not everyone agrees.
The Council discussed the Rapid Re-housing Reform Amendment Act at a public hearing on Thursday. The legislation proposed would change the Department of Human Services’ Rapid Re-housing program.
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According to the DHS website, “Itis a time-limited housing and support program. This is intends to assist families. That are homeless or are at risk of becoming homeless. They are able to obtain dignified and secure housing in the private market.”
Depending on the situation, Rental assistance and other services are available for 12 to 18 months. The first month’s rent, a security deposit, and case management are all required services. DHS is referred to families through another program, such as a shelter.
The bill would change how the program operates, addressing some of the program’s primary concerns.
“Is this program here intended to assist me or not?” During Thursday’s hearing, Arica Moody stated. Moody is a program participant.
“It has hurt my mental health, causing headaches, stress, anxiety, and depression.” “The only time you hear from case management is to find out how much time you still have in the program,” she explained.
“Although I approved for the program, I did not receive any money from the Rapid Re-housing program until nine months and a legal team later,” Shay-Queen Darby said during the public hearing. “I am told I had to drop off their radar. It eventually led to the Rapid Re-housing program’s months of neglect.”
If passed, the legislation would ensure that no family pays more than 30% of their income on rent. The eligibility of each participant for permanent housing vouchers would be determine. In the case of management will be optional. The criteria for allocating affordable housing vouchers will be laid out.
“I believe that if this draft legislation passes, it will dramatically reform the program and give it a fighting chance,” said Amber Harding from Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless.
Harding has criticized the program, claiming that it frequently leads to evictions because people cannot afford their rent once the subsidy program ends. She thinks the proposed changes are a good idea.
“Families will feel more supported, and they will not feel set up to fail,” Harding said.
The Department of Human Services director, Laura Green Zeilinger, disagrees.
“DHS does not support the proposed legislation,” she stated.
The proposed changes, according to Zeilinger, would cause more harm than good.
“With these provisions, Rapid Re-housing is essentially the same as the DC Housing Authority’s voucher programs.” “The agency opposes this provision because it effectively creates a right to affordable housing through the homeless system,” she explained.
According to Zeilinger, the goal of Rapid Re-housing is to be temporary rather than permanent. She also stated that the proposed changes do not address the underlying issue with the Rapid Re-housing program, which is a lack of affordable housing in the District.