Silverman Presses for Transparency in Housing Production Trust Fund Dollars, Highlighting Concerns Over Competitive Process Raised in New Auditor’s Report

D.C. Councilmember Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) responded to a new report released earlier today from the Office of the D.C. Auditor, which raises concerns about the integrity of the competitive application process for the city’s Housing Production Trust Fund (HPTF). The report found that the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) often deviated from its own scoring system to select lower-ranked projects for the fund, which provides critical gap financing to developers of affordable housing.

“Transparency around how we spend taxpayer dollars—especially dollars dedicated to increasing our affordable housing stock—is essential. How is it a competitive process if you ignore the scoring when awarding dollars?” Silverman said. “The Auditor’s findings raise troubling red flags about why these projects received money.”

Similar concerns about how trust fund dollars have been awarded prompted Silverman to introduce the Housing Production Trust Fund Transparency Amendment Act earlier this year, which would require DHCD to release the scoring of applicants to the fund. DHCD has refused to provide information on how trust fund applicants were assessed and selected for funding despite requests from both the D.C. Council and the Auditor. Since its inception, the trust fund has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in affordable housing projects. The fund will have $116 million in the Fiscal Year 2020 budget.

The Auditor’s report, “Low-Ranked Projects Secure Affordable Housing Funds,” also raises concerns about whether the District has developed less affordable housing units due to the selection process: “The method/procedures by which DHCD management selected nine projects for the Fall 2017 Request for Proposal (RFP) awards of $103 million, $78 million of which was HPTF funding, raises serious questions about the effectiveness and transparency of DHCD’s selection process. Between staff recommendations and the final selection by the Director there was a net loss of 353 affordable units, including a reduction by 95 units of those targeting the District’s most vulnerable households earning up to 30 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI).”

A hearing on Silverman’s legislation is scheduled for Monday, June 17, at 10:00 a.m. Those interested in testifying at the June 17 hearing should contact the Committee on Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization at (202) 724-8198.