For Immediate Release
February 8, 2023
Contact: Chantal Fuller, Communications Director
Councilmember Henderson Introduces Legislation to Increase Housing Access
Washington, DC - This week, Councilmember Christina Henderson introduced legislation to reduce barriers to homeownership and resources experienced by many District residents via the Community Land Trusts’ Access and Homeowner Support Amendment Act of 2023.
This legislation includes provisions of two bills Councilmember Henderson introduced in Council Period 24 and would accomplish several goals. First, this legislation seeks to increase homeownership by incorporating community land trusts (CLTs) into the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) structure, granting registered community land trusts an automatic third right of refusal to purchase multifamily housing. It would also provide registered CLTs with the second right of refusal for properties on the tax sale list before they are available to private buyers. In addition, it would establish a one-stop shop of resources for homeowners and aspiring homeowners in the District on matters such as home valuations, property taxes, property maintenance and improvement, and relevant District laws and regulations. The Homeowner Resource Center would be led by a Housing Resource Officer who would have demonstrated professional experience in property law.
“While the District has many affordable housing preservation tools, the strongest tools at our disposal are those that harness the power of community. TOPA, which became law in 1980, is widely recognized throughout the United States as a powerful means of maintaining affordability and strengthening communities. By placing CLTs in the TOPA structure and allowing CLTs advance opportunity to purchase tax sale properties, the District can help preserve affordability for sizable homes that can serve larger families at a price that is affordable to them. This bill aims to build on our record of empowering residents to live and thrive in their communities,” said Councilmember Henderson. “These bills were first introduced in October 2022, and I am dedicated to prioritizing their passage. With the passage of this omnibus, we can strengthen our resolve that housing is a right, not a privilege.”
Purchasing a home is a daunting task for even the most informed residents. Things like the real estate process, understanding housing policy and law, reading a deed, finding insurance, and holding contractors accountable are stressful and prevent many from seeking homeownership in our city. We know that homeownership continues to be one of the more common ways residents can build wealth. While the gap in homeownership between Black and white families in the District is one of the smallest among the major United States housing markets, Black Americans’ exclusion from building wealth via the Homestead Act, the Social Security Act of 1935, the G.I. Bill of 1944, and redlining practices has resulted in a startling wealth gap—the average Black American family has one-eighth the wealth of the average white American family.
“We must intentionally craft policy to combat these equity issues. Mayor Bowser has created a strategic plan to get more residents, particularly Black residents, to purchase and reside in homes in the District. A huge part of that lift will be accessible, timely, and accurate information and resources. Neighbors must feel confident before, during, and after their home-buying experience,” stated Councilmember Henderson.
The Community Land Trusts’ Access and Homeowner Support Amendment Act of 2023 was co-introduced by Councilmembers Zachary Parker, Brianne K. Nadeau, Robert C. White, Jr., Janeese Lewis George, Charles Allen, Brooke Pinto, Vincent C. Gray, and Matthew Frumin.