By Carl Thomas
Special to the AFRO
The District of Columbia Housing Authority (DCHA) is preparing to return to normal in-person operations, and they have made some big changes. The D.C. Housing Authority’s Office of Public Safety will open a new Command Center to help address customer needs. The Command Center will use state-of-the-art technology to monitor its portfolio, enhance their continued work with the Metropolitan Police Department and other local and federal agencies, and fulfill requirements set by the Office of the Attorney General.
With the COVID-19 pandemic still present in the hearts and minds of the world, everyone is excited to return to any semblance of normalcy.
“The Command Center and new Customer Solutions Center, along with other office spaces, were constructed to allow DCHA to safely work within its headquarters and serve its customers in a healthy environment. The Customer Solutions Center has 14, socially-distanced kiosks complete with computers, printers, and scanners that allow customers who do not have access to technology to conduct their business with DCHA,” according to a DCHA press release.
“It’s about time they thought about the residents,” said TyJuan Brown, former resident of both Langston Terrace and Kenilworth Courts. “Earlier in the redevelopment process there didn’t seem to be a lot of thought put into the residents who may be misplaced. Luckily, [or unluckily] COVID shined a light on what was needed and now they seem like they are starting to make moves in the right direction.”
The District of Columbia Housing Authority provides quality affordable housing to extremely low through moderate-income households, fosters sustainable communities and cultivates opportunities for residents to improve their lives. One of the District’s largest landlords, DCHA provides subsidized housing to approximately 50,000 residents.
The DCHA is an important resource, particularly in the African American community, to help bridge the housing gap. As housing costs rise in the District of Columbia (and in urban districts all over the country) public-facing/ funded organizations like DCHA become even more imperative to the ecosystem of those living in and facing abject poverty. The conditions within the global pandemic and associated quarantine exasperate an already difficult situation and community-based organizations are scrambling to meet the emerging needs of residents who are finding themselves in very different financial situations.
To assist in that facilitation, the D.C. Housing Authority announced this week that it has also received nearly $12 million in Emergency Housing Voucher (EHV) funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as part of President Biden’s American Rescue Plan. The vouchers will be used to house families facing homelessness in the nation’s capital.
“This emergency allocation by HUD comes at time in which DCHA needs to assist our most vulnerable residents. I am creating a plan that will move as expeditiously as possible to support not only the mission of the Authority, but assist other District homelessness prevention initiatives where possible,” said DCHA Executive Director Tyrone Garrett.
As part of the American Rescue Plan, HUD allocated approximately 70,000 Emergency Housing Vouchers to public housing agencies nationwide valued at nearly $5 billion. To facilitate and expedite leasing, DCHA will receive an allocation of administrative fee funding for other expenses that are not normally eligible under the Housing Choice Voucher program.
As part of the ongoing effort to keep everyone safe from COVID-19, DCHA has begun requiring the use of Emocha health check-in system. Visitors with an appointment or who are attending an event will need to visit Emocha’s web portal at https://checkin.emocha.com/dcha to complete a quick health survey before arriving at DCHA headquarters.