Section 8 Housing in Trouble?

Rob Goodspeed has a detailed examination of the Section 8 Housing in the northern part of DC, and he comes to a conclusion that could have some serious consequences for many DC neighborhoods: half the governmentally subsidized apartments are able to discontinue their contracts with the government this year, and many may well sell their properties to private development which would likely not maintain affordable housing in Northwest. Check out Rob’s article and the maps involved, it may be a bit of a clue as to what’s going to happen to DC over the next year or two as things change with the Section 8 housing.

3 Comments so far

  1. Krempasky (unregistered) on July 5th, 2006 @ 9:44 am

    You’re right – that is a great post. One thing I’m curious about is whether building owners can chose to continue as-is in the Section 8 program without making another decades-long committment. If anyone were worried about a currently crashing/cooling condo market (how many are coming online again?) – it might well be more attractive to stand pat for a while.

  2. Tom Bridge (unregistered) on July 5th, 2006 @ 9:47 am

    It’s a great point, Mike, it seems that these contracts are incredibly long and that might be part of the reason they’re fairly unpopular with the existing owners at this point, especially with a city real estate market that’s constantly changing. Me, I’d love to get into Shaw while it was cheap, this may be the end of that.

  3. Don (unregistered) on July 5th, 2006 @ 12:15 pm

    They may be long, but there’s two excellent reasons for that – one of which is, in my mind, something you just can’t overcome. The first is simply a manpower and labor issue. Re-negotiating these contracts every five years would double the amount of overhead in the program.

    The important reason, however, is the stability for the renters. A ten-year block of time means they have the potential to stay there a long time and get their lives improved to where they don’t need assistance. Moving is chaotic for those of us who can afford to house ourselves, much less the working poor. Getting them into a fixed location increases the possibility they’ll make ties and be a part of turning an area into a neighborhood.

    Aside from both these factors, I’m not sure the ten-year commitment is a huge turn-off for landlords. While the decision to sell or rent isn’t a minor one, most people renting properties want to continue to rent properties and have the incoming income. I don’t think you’d find most people who own several rental properties are also doing much real-estate speculation. If you want to be renting units a section 8 deal is probably a plus – there’s always a long waiting list for the subsidy, meaning you’re well assured a tenant.

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