Affordable Housing Preservation Benefits Tenants in Washington, DC

Affordable Housing Preservation Benefits Tenants in Washington, DC
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Preserving multifamily apartments that already house lower-income families can increase the amount of quality affordable housing in the District of Columbia, according to a publication by the Washington, DC, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC DC). Between 1988 and 2015, LISC DC financed the preservation of 3,701 apartments, cooperatives, and condominiums in the District.

To help explain this preservation’s impact on families, LISC DC staff interviewed a sample of the residents living in these units in summer 2015, highlighting six of their stories. LISC DC also details two tools they used to preserve affordable housing: the Tenant Opportunity Purchase Act (TOPA) and Reinvestment in Aging Stock.

TOPA gives District tenant associations the first opportunity to purchase their building if the owner chooses to sell, demolish, or discontinue its use as rental housing. LISC DC assists tenant associations who purchase their buildings under TOPA by providing financing and technical assistance. Alternatively, through reinvesting in aging stock, LISC DC provides financing for developers as rental subsidies expire, preserving units’ affordability and providing funds for renovations. By examining both tools’ effects through tenant interviews, LISC DC finds similarities and differences between how preservation through TOPA and reinvestment affects families.

Key findings

  • Preservation through TOPA and reinvestment helps prevent displacement and improve living conditions for tenants, ensuring the building’s continued affordability and livability.
  • TOPA allows tenants to become permanent stakeholders in their building and communities, making them more familiar with financing, housing development, and management.
  • Reinvestment increases the interaction between residents and developers, which benefits both parties.

Editor’s Note: As an update to Preservation Works: LISC DC’s Role in Preserving Quality Affordable Housing, LISC DC released a StoryMap, highlighting the organization’s work in 2016.