D.C. Housing Authority says it will re-examine waitlist, more than a year after closing it

More than a year after closing the waiting list for public housing in the District, the D.C. Housing Authority said Thursday that it will try in the coming months to reach the more than 72,000 people who held places on the list as a prelude to reopening it.

The authority said it will verify whether each person is still in need of housing aid and, if so, will update the applications for assistance.

The effort comes during increasing upward pressures on housing prices in the city, which have helped drive a record level of family homelessness.

The waiting list closed in April 2013, with housing officials calling it unmanageable and poorly organized. At the time, a resident seeking a one-bedroom apartment could expect to wait 28 years for a placement.

Adrianne Todman, the authority’s executive director, said the culling of the list would make it easier to manage and allow officials to “set realistic expectations for our clients as to how long it will take to get housed.”

A spokeswoman for the agency, Christy Goodman, said the “reengineered” list would also allow it to “house people faster and more efficiently,” but it was too early to say when the list would open to new applicants.

Todman and other officials have previously said that the authority intends to replace the single overall waitlist with smaller lists tailored to applicants’ individual needs.

DCHA manages about 8,000 publicly owned units and oversees about 10,500 federally funded vouchers for privately owned housing.

The authority said it has already reverified 11,500 people on the list since it was closed. Now, officials said, they will reach out to others through mailings, both postal and electronic, as well as through nonprofit and community groups dealing with housing.

Goodman said the outreach effort has been developed with housing advocates and community organizations to make sure that it would reach as many of those on the list as possible.

“DCHA is doing everything it can to take deliberate and precise steps to make sure we reach every person on the list to get an accurate picture of how to move forward with meeting their needs,” she said.

People can confirm they are still interested in housing aid by contacting the authority online or by calling 202-535-1000.

Mike DeBonis covers local politics and government for The Washington Post. He also writes a blog and a political analysis column that runs on Fridays.
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