Mayor Walter E. Washington, defending his administration from attacks by his two major rivals in the mayor's race, said the city has a "solid and substantial" housing program "based on 10 years of groundwork . . . not just a set of promises."
The mayor's response to criticism last week from City Council Chairman Sterling Tucker and council member Marion Barry took the form of an 8-page, 24-point "status report" prepared by the city's Department of Housing and Community Development.
Unlike Barry and Tucker, however, Washington's proposals were not unveiled at separate well-publicized news conferences in front of neglected housing projects. Instead, Washington's statement was inconspicuously included in a press kit prepared for an open house held Saturday at the mayor's campaign headquarters.
Sam Eastman, the mayor's governmental press secretary, said the detailed paper was drawn up in response to inquiries from reporters asking the mayor's view on Tucker and Barry's proposals.
In the statement, Washington said, "If you look at all of the housing in this city that has been built with public funds," campaign manager Lacy C. Streeter explained yesterday, "the mayor has been involved either directly or indirectly in the bulk of it all."
Washington said in the statement that approximately 36,000 people either live in or will soon move into about 12,000 publicly-assisted housing units "which have been built for rehabilitated during my administration. These are represented by bricks and mortar in the ground."
Washington said his housing policy has been guided by four basic goals: providing more housing units through construction of new houses and returning vacant and dilapidated ones to the active market, maintaining and improving existing homes, improving people's ability to afford the housing in which they currently live, and creating a cooperative atmosphere among all of the diverse groups interested in housing.
The mayor then outlined 20 active or planned areas of operation that he said are "key points of my program." Many of those proposals were nearly identical to plans outlined by Barry and Tucker.
In most instances, however, the mayor attempted to cite examples where the city government, under his administration, was already working or planning to work in the ways he proposed, underscoring his campaign thrust of having allegedly produced what his opponents are only talking about.
Many of the items in the mayor's proposals were aimed at increasing home ownership possibilities for low and moderate income persons.
He proposed increased city funding of a program in Anacostia run by the National Neighborhood Housing Service program, which has been helping persons obtain mortgages and now wants to expand its activities to rehabilitating homes and then selling them to families at reduced prices.
He urged expansion of current efforts to provide deferred payment loans to families who would otherwise not be able to afford downpayments.
The mayor also urged a program in which use its low - interest borrowing authority as a municipality to borrow money from commercial institutions and then lend it to poor persons, passing on the lower interest rate.
There were also several proposals affecting renters one of which would establish a $5 million program that would offer low-interest rehabilitation loans to tenants who wanted to convert their buildings to condominiums or cooperatives. Washington also said he would provide assistance to such efforts through the city's housing department.
The major said he supports both local and federally-finances subsidy programs for low and moderate income persons and urged establishment of a mediation service that would help provide technical assitance to manager and tenants of troubled rental buildings interested in resolving their differences.
In the area of rent control, the major said he would favor exempting from the rent control law rental units that became vacant by voluntary moves. He also said that he would favor a change in the law that would permit newly constructed rental housing, which is now exempted from rent control only through the time of occupancy of its first tenants, to be permanently excluded from the law.
He also said he would expand proposals for property tax relief, eliminate much of the municipal red tape affecting - and often discouraging - construction of new homes, increase efforts to allow low-income persons to remain in homes in historic preservation districts and continue plans to convert vacant schools to housing use.
Tucker said in response that Washington's "administration cannot paper over the record of failure we see in the streets: boarded up houses, crumbling projects, and neighborhood plight." He said Washington's leadership has a "snail's-eye view of history. That's the belief that people will put up stoically with such conditions forever."
Barry said that the mayor's "housing policy is his record and it speaks must more eloguently than . . . his so - called housing policy statement." Barry said the statement was nothing but warmed over promises - promises that have been made before and not kept."