HAND is pleased to be a member of the Housing Priorities Coalition (HPC), which is comprised of several leading industry partners:
- Enterprise Community Partners
- Coalition for Smarter Growth (CSG)
- Greater Greater Washington
- Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC)
- United Planning Organization
- DC Fiscal Policy Institute
- Coalition for Non-Profit Housing and Economic Development (CNHED)
- Somerset Development
Formed to help update the DC Comprehensive (Comp) Plan, the coalition’s guiding principles include but are not limited to: meeting the housing demand, prioritizing affordable housing as a community benefit and equitably distributing housing. As the primary document that guides what and where development occurs in the District for the next few decades, the DC Comp Plan has the power to stem the tide of economic and residential segregation. This work directly aligns with HAND’s goals of leveraging its membership to influence affordable housing programs and policy, and centering racial equity in all that we do.
Where are We Now?
As it stands, the Comp Plan is outdated and does not provide the long-term vision we need to address DC’s housing affordability challenges and racial inequities. From 2016 through February 2020, the Office of Planning (OP) embarked on an unprecedented process, which included extensive outreach and engagement from the public.
In October 2019, the coalition successfully advocated for key amendments to the plan’s Framework Element. These revisions ensure that the plan prioritizes affordable housing and the prevention of displacement. HAND also sent a letter to OP in January 2020 with comments to the last draft update of the plan. This letter emphasized HAND’s support of the amended Framework Element as passed by the DC Council, including its acknowledgement of the need for increased affordable housing and protections against displacement. You can learn more about these efforts here.
The revised plan takes into account that where an individual lives is still one of the greatest predictors of health and economic outcomes. This updated version helps break down barriers to affordable housing across the city, which is a critical step in the District’s racial justice efforts. In September 2020, the coalition sent a letter urging Chairman Phil Mendelson and the Council to review and approve the Comprehensive Plan Amendment Act of 2020 (B23-736) within 2020, and not delay its passage into 2021 or beyond.
In February 2021, the coalition doubled down, with another letter urging the Council to pass the updated Comprehensive Plan as soon as possible. In May 2021, the DC Council voted unanimously to approve the amendments to the 2006 Comprehensive Plan. The updated plan puts a priority on affordable housing, sets a goal of 15% for each part of the city, and highlights the opportunity in Ward 3, which today hosts just 1% of the city’s affordable housing stock. The Future Land Use Map creates room to build more homes, especially near transit and better addresses displacement of vulnerable residents. Importantly, the update focuses on bringing racial equity into every land use decision.
Importance of the Comp Plan
Housing: The Comp Plan sets housing goals for each part of the District and will expand housing opportunities across the city to offer low income and people of color more options for where they live, shop, go to school, and work. Specifically, the Future Land Use Map amendments provide a 15% increase in housing capacity around transit, and advance proposals for hundreds of affordable homes and mixed income projects that are in limbo until the map is updated. It also provides clearer guidance to the Zoning Commission, in response to court decisions which have stalled needed new housing. Further, the updated plan prioritizes affordable housing in development reviews.
COVID-19 Recovery: OP has identified 96 policies and actions throughout the Comp Plan that explicitly guide the District’s COVID-19 response and recovery. These items position the Comp Plan to appropriately guide the city through and beyond the dual public health and economic crisis. When implemented, these policies and actions will prioritize the District’s recovery efforts, while affirming core values of equity, health, safety, prosperity, and opportunity.
Background on the Comp Plan:
What is the Comp Plan?