The Washington Post

HUD teams with the District to oversee affordable-housing grants

Mayor Vincent C. Gray and his members of his administration met Tuesday with Mercedes Marquez of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to discuss a plan to improve the city’s housing grants programs.

HUD will step in and provide technical assistance to two of the District’s housing programs that use federal funds: the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS program and the Home Purchase Assistance Program. HUD will also monitor project-underwriting standards for the grants. For the next six months, HUD will help the city implement its improvement plan, which stems from the federal agency’s assessment of the grants programs.

In recent years, The Washington Post has published several investigative stories on the HUD programs, nationally and in the District, finding that funds went to poor-performing developers.

Gray described the city’s housing troubles as “inherited.”

“HUD’s assessment confirms that problems exist,” Gray said in a statement. “But we feel they are not insurmountable, and we are committed to fixing them - because D.C. residents and federal taxpayers deserve better service delivery and programs that do what these grants were designed to do: lift up urban communities.”

Gray thanked Marquez for her guidance over the past several months at a news conference at Victory Heights, an apartment building for low-income seniors in Columbia Heights.

The mayor noted that he has appointed a comprehensive housing task force to address many of the issues. The D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development has also undergone a major overhaul under the leadership of its new, director John E. Hall.

View Photo Gallery: The District invested millions of affordable-housing dollars into a plan to renovate three rotting buildings in Southeast Washington, but the project died before a shovel ever hit dirt.


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