In his March 30 op-ed, “Is D.C. headed for a ’90s-style crisis?,” Colbert I. King scrutinized D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser’s (D) fiscal 2020 proposed budget and questioned sustainability in an uncertain future. The budget should also be scrutinized for what it doesn’t include: funding for renovation and restoration of almost 2,500 units of public housing in such disrepair as to be mostly uninhabitable. Maintenance of these units, a federal responsibility within Section 8 housing, has been consistently neglected.

With 27,000 rent-burdened households on the D.C. Housing Authority’s wait list for housing assistance, the District can’t afford to lose these units through neglect. The Housing Authority must take responsibility for repair and maintenance now. Though public housing is not considered an optimum housing solution in a progressive community, well-maintained public housing through history has served as an affordable home for those with very few resources as they work for “better” options. The $20 million Workforce Housing Fund called out by Mr. King in his analysis targets those in the workforce making no more than $94,000 for a family of four. In looking at such new programs, beneficial as they may be, we cannot forget housing for those households and individuals living in extreme poverty ($33,000 for a family of four). They have very few alternatives, and well-maintained public housing should remain a viable option.

Ann Friedman, Washington

The writer is a member of the board of Good Faith Communities Coalition.

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