Councilmember Silverman Introduces Legislation Helping Seniors and Workers Afford to Live in the District

Earlier today, D.C. Councilmember Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) introduced two bills which will aid struggling D.C. senior homeowners and incentivize D.C. businesses that support working families. The two pieces of legislation are part of her increased effort to help residents afford to live, work, and stay in the District long-term.

The first bill, the Reverse Mortgage Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2017, will create an assistance program for District seniors who are facing foreclosure under a reverse mortgage. The program would pay overdue property taxes and insurance for reverse mortgage borrowers who might lose their homes because of nonpayment of taxes. The program would be income-based.

“We see better health outcomes when our senior residents stay in their homes and more stable neighborhoods when properties are continuously occupied,” said Silverman. “The city also saves money: providing a subsidy is much less costly than providing replacement housing for residents who might lose their homes.”

To qualify, the homeowner would have to prove an inability to pay their outstanding balance during an active foreclosure, verify an annual household income at or below 80% of the area median income, and provide a plan for paying the annual tax and insurance costs going forward. For residents meeting these requirements, the District would pay the outstanding balance and record a lien requiring repayment when the homeowner pays off the reverse mortgage or relinquishes the property.

The legislation, referred to the Committee on Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization, was co-introduced by Councilmembers Anita Bonds (D-At Large), Robert White (D-At Large), Brandon Todd (D-Ward 4), Vincent Gray (D-Ward 7), and Trayon White (D-Ward 8). Councilmembers David Grosso (I-At Large) and Brianne Nadeau (D-Ward 1) were co-sponsors.

The second bill, the Living Wage Certification Program Amendment Act of 2017, would allow the Department of Small and Local Business Development to certify District businesses that pay their employees a living wage and create a directory of local companies paying a living wage for consumers to reference. Once certified, employers would receive a decal to display in their businesses or on their products. The living wage is currently at $13.95 under District law.

“Businesses who pay a living wage make it easier for their employees to afford to live in the District despite the rising cost of living,” Silverman said.

The bill, referred to the Committee on Business and Economic Development, was co-introduced by Councilmembers Anita Bonds (D-At Large), Robert White (D-At Large), Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3), and Vincent Gray (D-Ward 7). Councilmembers David Grosso (I-At Large), Brianne Nadeau (D-Ward 1), and Charles Allen (D-Ward 6) offered additional support as co-sponsors.