John E. Hall, the new director of the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) hopes to make it stronger, more user-friendly and accountable to District residents.

Hall, who accepted the position April and was confirmed by the Council in July, is no stranger to this arena. He previously served in the U.S. Department of Housing and Community Development as Field Office Director for both the Washington, D.C. and Richmond (Va.) Field Offices. Hall also has experience in finance, community development corporation management and non-profit development.

The mission of the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) is to create and preserve opportunities for affordable housing and economic development and to revitalize underserved communities in the District of Columbia.

DHCD meets this mission by providing gap financing toward affordable housing development, direct assistance to first-time homebuyers and low-income homeowners, and funding for community-based activities such as housing counseling and storefront façade development.

“As director, it is my charge to ensure that DHCD is a good steward of our entitlement funding from HUD and of our local dollars. We will fulfill DHCD’s mission of creating and preserving opportunities for affordable housing and economic development in the District in an effective, efficient and ethical manner.”

At DCHD, Hall quickly realized the agency was more focused on project delivery than program management and compliance standards. In response, Hall reorganized the operation, identifying staffers’ expertise in funding, management and development and raised accountability standards. He released three managers and added five employees to his management team.

“I firmly believe that housing stabilizes neighborhoods. Community development addresses poverty alleviation and helps to improve the quality of life,” Hall said.

“DHCD’s role and responsibility in addressing the housing challenges of the city is vast, and we are all committed to moving the city forward by working to improve affordable housing opportunities in the District.”

DHCD provides down-payment and closing cost loans to first-time home buyers:

• Home Purchase Assistance Program (HPAP) provides down payment and closing cost assistance to low and moderate income District residents so that they can become first-time homebuyers in the District of Columbia. HPAP offers up to $44,000 in assistance.

• DHCD is offering a temporary HPAP Enhancement that provides increased assistance levels in Deanwood, Ivy City and Historic Anacostia. For these areas, DHCD offers up to $77,000 in assistance.

• Employer Assisted Housing Program (EAHP) and Negotiated Employee Affordable Home Purchase Program (NEAHP) both provide assistance to qualified DC Government employees for first-time home purchase in the District. Under EAHP, eligible employees may be eligible for matching down payment funds up to $1,500 and a deferred loan of up to $10,000. NEAHP offers employees covered by certain  collective bargaining agreements grant assistance levels ranging between $3,000 and $26,500, depending on the union member’s years of service.

• Home Purchase Rehabilitation Pilot Program allows HPAP buyers to purchase homes that require limited repairs to address health, safety and building code violations. The minimum rehab loan is $5,000 and the maximum is $35,000. Work must be completed within six months of closing.

In addition, DHCD offers assistance to low-income homeowners who are in need of essential repairs to bring their home up to DC Housing Code standards such as providing loans and grants with a possible maximum usage of up to $75,000 for home repairs; roof repairs, handicap accessibility improvements, lead water service line replacement and additional benefits for seniors.

“As a result of DHCD’s involvement, we have the funding to have 91-units of affordable housing for seniors in our, exec director of Vision of Victory Community Development Corporation. “They are such great partners to help us realize our vision.”

“Aligned with Mayor Gray’s vision of ‘One City’, we are striving to make the District a city that can be enjoyed and treasured by all who call the District home. The vision is for you to be able to go anywhere in the city and have the same access to goods, services, jobs and amenities,” said Hall.

For more information, call (202) 442-7200, visit www.dhcd.dc.gov, the online affordable housing locator at www.dchousingsearch.org or DHCD Housing Resource Center located at 1800 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE.

 

Valencia Mohammed

Special to the AFRO