- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The D.C. Council will consider its chairman’s fiscal 2013 budget today, which dedicates more than $20 million to affordable housing programs by leveraging funds tied to the sale of city-owned land, and issue the first of two votes on the plan.

Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown did not introduce any new taxes or fees in the budget he released late Monday.

The plan emphasizes a key talking point among city lawmakers — the lack of low-cost housing in the District — by asking Mayor Vincent C. Gray to sell a city lot on K Street and direct the anticipated $18 million in proceeds to the Housing Production Trust Fund, a pool of money set up in 1989 to generate affordable housing units.

Mr. Gray had designated the money for parks and improvements in the NoMa neighborhood near H and North Capitol streets in Northeast.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Brown said the chairman “still sees the NoMa areas as a priority” and placed the parks funding as the No. 4 priority on a contingent revenue list, which funds initiatives once new money comes into the city’s coffers through revised revenue estimates in June and September.

Mr. Brown’s plan also dedicates $2.9 million to double local funding for the Home Purchase Assistance Program, which helps lower- and moderate-income residents buy housing in the city.

Affordable housing advocates allied with the D.C. Fair Budget Coalition packed the council chamber at the John A. Wilson Building ahead of Tuesday’s session. They wore bright yellow shirts and carried placards that read “Vote Yes” and “Vote No” on either side, an apparent attempt to guide city leaders during debate on the dais.

Mr. Brown’s budget, which may be amended by a majority vote among council members in coming days, also expands bar hours during the week of the presidential inauguration and around holidays, emphasizes economic development along Pennsylvania Avenue in Southeast and funds education initiatives.

The council is scheduled to convene on June 5 for its final vote on the spending plan.

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