DCHA Accountability and Reform

A scathing assessment of the D.C. Housing Authority by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development became public in early October 2022. The investigation found the local agency, which provides tens of thousands of units of housing for low-income families, in violation of federal law, lacking oversight and proper financial management, and its housing portfolio in a state of disrepair.

Among the reports findings: DCHA’s executive director lacks expertise in public housing management and its board does not provide proper fiscal and operational oversight; public housing is nearly insolvent, with barely one month’s expenses in its reserves; and DCHA is out of compliance with numerous federal procurement policies, prompting HUD to require the authority to review all past procurements and to repay all funds that were spent improperly.

Councilmember Silverman introduced emergency legislation on Oct. 13 that was co-introduced by 12 members. The bill requires training for the authority's executive director and board members, requires DCHA to report data to the Council, and clarifies that DC’s consumer protection laws apply to DCHA.

Councilmember Silverman is also preparing to introduce comprehensive DCHA reform legislation, legislation she was working on before the HUD report came out. She is expected to introduce the legislation in late October or November. The legislation would increase the board's capacity and willingness to monitor DCHA effectiveness, change the makeup of the board, reduce conflicts, give more power to the board, and improve information sharing for better Council oversight.