April 2, 2015 Comments are off

The Washington Informer: D.C. Councilwoman Anita Bonds Advocates for More Affordable Housing

D.C. Councilwoman Anita Bonds Advocates for More Affordable Housing

Introduces Legislation Aimed at Assisting Renters

Stacy M. Brown | 4/1/2015, 3 p.m.
As part of her campaign pledge when she easily retained her seat in the November general election, Anita Bonds, who ...

D.C. Councilwoman Anita Bonds has been busy living up to her campaign pledges to help renters and to maintain affordable housing in the District. Photo by Roy Lewis

Council member Anita Bonds continues to do what many politicians have found difficult.

The at-large D.C. councilwoman has been busy living up to her campaign pledges, and within a short period, she’s introduced two major pieces of legislation to help protect lower-income residents.

As part of her campaign pledge when she easily retained her seat in the November general election, Bonds, who chairs the Committee on Housing and Community Development, had vowed to do more for area renters.

Late in March, she introduced the TOPA Bona Fide Offer of Sale Clarification Amendment Act of 2015, a bill aimed at protecting tenants and providing further clarity to the Tenants Opportunity to Purchase Act.

“Current loopholes to TOPA allow building owners to speculatively inflate prices in anticipation of a future market value that is disproportionate to property’s current market value,” said Bonds, 67.

To prevent the permanent loss of affordable housing units, as well as prevent the displacement of elderly, longtime and low-income residents, Bonds introduced a bill drafted in consultation with representatives on all sides of the issue, a staff spokesman said in an email.

The key components of the bill include provisions that will no longer require all TOPA sales to have two appraisals, regardless of whether there is a third-party offer.

It mandates that bona fide offers of sale for buildings with five or more units be made according to the present value of the property and not some speculative future value.

Further, Bonds’ legislation establishes the tenant’s right to request an appraisal if the tenants believe that an offer, in the absence of a third-party offer, is too high.

Finally, the bill protects the residents of Museum Square by applying retroactively to TOPA sales without a third-party contract.

“We must do more to protect tenants and strengthen legislation that preserves affordable housing, Bonds said. “Our bill will protect District residents, like the tenants at Museum Square, and bring further certainty to the housing market.”

The councilwoman said she wasn’t finished.

She then introduced the Rent Control Housing Clearinghouse Amendment Act, which would establish the first database of rent-controlled housing units, making it significantly easier for residents to find affordable housing.

Bonds said rent control is one of the most successful tools the District has to provide affordable housing to residents.

Since the Rental Housing Act of 1985, the development of a central database where one might find the listing of affordable housing units has not been obtained.

The legislation would create a real-time, searchable online database of all housing units subject to the District’s rent control laws.

It will also provide the District with data on its roughly 80,000-unit rent control housing stock to assist in the development of more effective affordable housing public policy in the future and will eliminate red tape to lighten the filing burden of rent control housing providers.

“The District of Columbia must be a place where residents of all income levels can afford to live, said Bonds, who noted that she’s committed to fighting to expand affordable housing options for all District residents.

“This legislation will significantly improve the affordable housing options easily available to residents and the housing industry alike by providing them with the ability to sit at a computer and search tens of thousands of homes,” she said.

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