- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 9, 2002

The D.C. Council unanimously passed yesterday a $65 million low-income housing bill that is geared toward making affordable housing more accessible to D.C. renters and homeowners.
The council also extended residential parking hours and denied a proposed $40,000 increase in the salary of the newly appointed director of the Child Support Enforcement Division.
Council members debated the Housing Act of 2002, which they estimate will cost about $21.6 million in 2003, $25.6 million in 2004, and $29.24 million in 2005, for nearly three hours before unanimously passing the measure.
The law will allow the city to build and renovate more than 4,000 units of housing for low- and low-to-moderate-income families, as well as some middle-income families. It also will retain 2,700 units of affordable housing.
"It's a pretty balanced package, addressing the needs of the poorest of city's residents, while attracting the middle class," said Ed Lazare, executive director of the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute.
The focus of the long debate was who should qualify for assistance from the Housing Production Trust Fund, which is providing most of the money for the housing. Some Council members, notably David A. Catania, at-large Republican, wanted the emphasis strictly on home ownership, at the exclusion of renters. Other members, however, noted that choices open to homeowners should be open to other D.C. families as well.
"All 13 of us are homeowners, but the mayor rents," said Council member Kevin Chavous, Ward 7 Democrat. "If the chief executive of the city rents, what's wrong with the citizens of the city renting let's get real folks."
Others, including council member Jim Graham, Ward 1 Democrat, wanted to make sure that individuals with the lowest incomes were not at a disadvantage.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development defines three levels of low-income families of four, which are based on earnings in relation to the area median income (AMI). Specifically, low income is 80 percent of the AMI; very low income is 50 percent of the AMI; and extremely low income is 30 percent of the AMI.
The AMI for the District is $68,000 for a family of four, because Fairfax and Montgomery counties are included in the figure.
The bill also allows middle-income families to take part in the Housing Production Trust Fund, because many are leaving the city for the Maryland suburbs.
"I was speaking with someone from the state of Maryland, and they said they are becoming Ward 9," said council member Sandy Allen, Ward 8 Democrat.
The council also passed emergency legislation that temporarily expands the amount of time that residents can park in otherwise illegal spots at night, because of the lack of available parking in congested areas.
The legislation, sponsored by council member Carol Schwartz, at-large Republican, makes it legal for D.C. residents to park in areas designated as loading zones or other no parking areas between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7:30 a.m. Mrs. Schwartz said she tried to make it until 8 a.m., but business concerns prevented it from being later.
Council member Kathy Patterson, Ward 3 Democrat, was forced to withdraw her request for emergency funding of the salary of the director of child support enforcement, Joseph G. Perry. Many on the council voiced concerns that Mr. Perry currently resides in Marylandand at the requested $140,000 annual salary he would earn more than the mayor, and his predecessor.

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