Public Housing in DC . . . After A Decade Of Federal Underfunding

early public housing project in Washington DC
Langston Dwellings DC photo by Farragutful is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
Langston Terrace is a public housing project in Washington DC and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The headline for this post reflects a quote from the DC Housing Authority’s (DCHA’s) 2021 plan. Alas, the underfunding goes back much longer than a single decade.

From 11,000 on DCHA’s public housing waiting list in 1991, the demand has blossomed to 73,000 today. DCHA maintained one waiting list until 2013, when it was officially closed, with 70,000 names. Today, DCHA operates a number of programs, including public housing and Section 8 vouchers, and maintains multiple waiting lists. Who knows how many now want, or need public housing?

A recent article in STREETSENSEMEDIA documents the year by year, drip by drip decay of DC’s public housing. The engine driving it into the ground has been federal government antipathy towards public housing as a public responsibility.

Instead, through initiative after initiative, program after program, the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has adopted the philosophy that a pair of loosely knit national institutions — the private housing industry and the private financial industry — can be enticed, goosed or somehow manipulated into taking on the lion’s share of responsibility for the nation’s low and no-income citizens who do not earn enough to pay for housing, along with other essentials of life.

Not surprisingly, those two private industries have become past masters at accepting public financial enticements on offer when it suits, while maximizing profits by neatly sidestepping any meaningful provision or creation of desperately-needed housing.

For a step by step indictment of attempt after insane ever-hopeful attempt to turn a public responsibility into a private responsibility in but one jurisdiction, read more in an article by Nena Perry-Brown in STREETSENSEMEDIA: What privatizing DC public housing looks like so far

An earlier post on the same subject with a broader focus: America’s Public Housing: Born To Die