Housing Justice Working Group
As a philanthropy mobilizing organization, WRAG is committeed to work for housing justice. The founding organizations of the Housing Justice Working Group – The Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers, (WRAG), the Greater Washington Community Foundation, and HAND – write to Mayor Bowser to advocate the Mayor to utilize surplus revenues to support the over 40,000 DC residents (nearly half of an entire Ward in Washington D.C.) who are at risk of being evicted.
We encourage philanthropy to join us and support housing justice. Learn more about the letter and sign on to the letter here
Previous Housing Work
Affordable Housing Action Team (AHAT)
WRAG supports an Affordable Housing Action Team that is working to:
- Support the production and preservation of affordable housing units
- Increase support for improved public policy and advocacy efforts for affordable housing for low-income workers and vulnerable populations
- Educate the philanthropic community about the region's housing needs and effective solutions
AHAT Steering Committee:
- David Bowers, Enterprise Community Partners
- Robert Burns, Citi Community Development
- Terri Copeland, PNC Bank
- Craig Pascal, Truist
- Mike Schwartz, The Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation
- Silvana Straw, Greater Washington Community Foundation
The shortage of affordable rental and homeowner opportunities is a serious challenge to the region’s economic vitality and quality of life. The high cost of housing is also a deterrent for businesses to locate or grow within the region.
Since June 2014, the Housing Leaders Group of Greater Washington – a collection of more than a dozen public and private sector leaders concerned about housing affordability – has been meeting to examine the nature of the affordable housing shortage in the Greater Washington region; the relationship of housing affordability to economic growth; and strategies to increase affordable housing for low- and moderate-income households in the region. Click here to learn more about the group and here to read coverage of their work in the Washington Post.
What is Affordable Housing?
At the micro level, the type and price level of housing needed depends on individual households’ preferences, income, and size. It is impossible, however, to have a public policy discussion based on the needs of individual households in the region. For this reason, we consider housing to be affordable if a household earning up to 80% of Area Median Income (AMI) can afford to live in it without spending more than 30% of their income. Eighty percent of the 2013 area Federal Financial Institution Examination Council median income ($105,900) for the Greater Washington region is $84,720. A household earning $84,720 can typically afford a monthly rent (including utilities) of $2,118. (Please note that HUD uses a different definition of the region and has a slightly higher figure for 80% of area median income, $85,840.)
Our Region, Your Investment
From 2016 - 2018, WRAG and Enterprise Community Loan Fund led the Our Region, Your Investment initiative, an effort to bring new capital to the region’s growing housing affordability crisis. This was a first of its kind targeted initiative for both WRAG and the Loan Fund. Through this initiative, we have accomplished a great deal:
- Surpassed our fundraising goal – twice! -- raising over $12 million in investments
- Preserved or produced over 650 housing units around the region, at Brookland Place, Clarendon Court, Crest Apartments, Fort Stevens, Gilliam Place, and Villages of East River
- Featured in an in-depth Social Return on Investment report, published in November 2017
- Invited to participated in the Urban Institute’s impact investing project, resulting in a May 2018 report that included Our Region, Your Investment
- Helped to bring new investors to the impact investing space and now host the WIIN (WRAG’s Impact Investor Network)
Although this initiative has ended, WRAG is proud of all its accomplishments and is working on next steps to continue bringing new capital to our region’s housing affordability challenge – or any other new roles we can play.
More than a Home: Investing Together to Create Opportunity (November 2017)
In 2016, Enterprise Community Loan Fund and WRAG created a local impact investing initiative, Our Region, Your Investment, to protect and produce affordable homes in the Greater Washington region. This Social Return on Investment report take a look at Clarendon Court, an affordable housing development in Arlington County, VA, which was financed through Our Region, Your Investment.
A Guidebook for Increasing Housing Affordability in the Greater Washington Region (June 2017)
This Guidebook, produced by the Housing Leaders Group of Greater Washington, is a compilation of planning and policy tools that local governments, nonprofit and for-profit developers, and advocacy groups in the Greater Washington region are using—or could be using—to promote the production and preservation of housing that is affordable for all in the region. A successful local housing strategy must be wide-ranging, taking advantage of a broad set of tools available to local jurisdictions. This Guidebook is organized around the following areas: Land Use and Zoning Policies, Preservation Programs, Financial Tools, and Special Populations. A summary of tools implemented by each of the local jurisdictions is included at the end of the Guidebook.
The Greater Washington Region's Future Housing Needs: 2023, a report by the Center for Regional Analysis, George Mason University
Bending the Cost Curve: Solutions to Expand the Supply of Affordable Rentals, a report by the Urban Land Institute, Terwilliger Center for Housing, and Enterprise
Housing and Health: New Opportunities for Dialogue and Action, a National Center for Healthy Housing paper documenting the many ways in which housing affects health
Housing Security in the Washington Region, a report from the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, with support from The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation
Multifamily Housing in the Washington, DC Region: Demand and Supply Trends, a report by the Center for Regional Analysis, George Mason University
Place + Opportunity: Strategies for Creating Great Communities and a Stronger Region, a report of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments
Unfulfilled Promises: Affordable Housing in Metropolitan Washington, a report of the The Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs
For more information on affordable housing, visit: