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Washington D.C.'s Inclusionary Zoning Programs
February 22, 2021

Washington D.C.'s Inclusionary Zoning Programs

by The CE Shop Team

Get the Scoop on D.C.’s Inclusionary Zoning Programs

Washington D.C. has become one of the front-runners for inclusionary zoning programs in the U.S., and it’s setting the standard for states to follow. Inclusionary zoning requires that new residential developments have a certain number of apartments, condos, or homes that are deemed affordable to rent or buy for individuals who fall below a certain income level. We sat down with Gene Bulmash, Inclusionary Zoning Program Manager at the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development, to get a better understanding of how these programs work, and why they are so vital to community development.

Bulmash has been involved with the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development for over four years and has an extensive background in real estate law. His expertise in real estate before joining this organization has lent itself well to his current endeavors in D.C., and he expressed his gratitude for working in a field that is so rewarding. So, how are Bulmash and his colleagues assisting the public?

How Does Inclusionary Zoning Work?

The D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) oversees the District's inclusionary zoning (IZ) program which requires that 8-10% of residential floor units be used for affordable housing units. “This is really an effort to create mixed housing units that can benefit a number of individuals and their families while also creating a stronger knit community through diversification,” said Bulmash. “The goal is to fill these affordable housing units and showcase that these programs work while benefiting the community at large.”

Who Can Live in D.C.’s Affordable Housing Units?

IZ rent and purchase prices are controlled by the inclusionary zoning maximum income, rent, and purchase price that are set to a schedule, but these factors are also subject to change. Inclusionary zones are selected through the city and do not cover every community. D.C.’s zoning commission designates which zones qualify, and DCHD then manages a lottery system for individuals who are interested in the affordable housing units.

To register for the lottery process, a household must submit the proper paperwork to showcase both the size and combined income of the household. This information will determine whether the units will be for those who earn less than 50 - 80% of the area median income (AMI), meaning that if a household’s combined income is below the AMI by 50-80%, then they may qualify to enter the lottery system. Here is a chart to that shows what 50% or 80% of the AMI looks like:

Household Size 30% of MFI 50% of MFI 60% of MFI 80% of MFI 100% of MFI 120% of MFI
1 $26,450 $44,100 $52,900 $70,550 $88,200 $105,850
2 $30,250 $50,400 $60,500 $80,650 $100,800 $120,950
3 $34,000 $56,700 $68,050 $90,700 $113,400 $136,100
4 $37,800 $63,000 $75,600 $100,800 $126,000 $151,200
5 $41,600 $69,300 $83,150 $110,900 $138,600 $166,300
6 $45,350 $75,600 $90,700 $90,700 $151,200 $181,450
7 $49,150 $81,900 $98,300 $131,050 $163,800 $196,550
8 $52,900 $88,200 $105,850 $141,100 $176,400 $211,700

Source: DHCD.DC.Gov

Eligibility Requirements Per the DHCD Webpage:

  • Your household must meet the income requirements. Households that make 50%, 60%, or 80% of the Median Family Income (MFI) may be eligible. CLICK HERE to view current incomes.
  • Your housing costs for an IZ home may not be more than half (50%) of your income (before taxes).
  • You cannot be enrolled in a full-time college or university program.
  • You must live in the IZ home as your primary residence.
  • You (or someone who will live with you) may not own other residential property at the time of lease or purchase.
  • Anyone who meets these requirements may apply. However, if you (or someone who will live with you) do not live or work in the District of Columbia, the odds are very low that you will be selected.

How You Can Help Your Community

If you’re looking for ways to contribute to your community and assist individuals in need of affordable housing, DHCD offers a number of helpful resources for residents to find affordable housing in D.C. Here are a few of the housing locator services available for your clients:

  • DCHousingSearch.org: This is a free service that gives households access to information regarding affordable housing opportunities within D.C.
  • Housing Resource Center: This is a residential learning center for individuals to learn about rent control standards, tenant rights and responsibilities, and homeownership assistance programs.
  • Housing Counseling Services: A community-based organization that provides counseling services and training to tenants, future homeowners, and current homeowners.
  • Inclusionary Zoning: This program helps households looking to purchase a home or units in an IZ take the proper steps to be qualified for the lottery process.
  • Safe and Healthy Homes: Here are resources that are available to help residents with home repairs, accessibility upgrades, lead paint hazard remediation, and other crucial home safety projects.

For more information about D.C.’s efforts to enable affordable housing for all through their inclusionary zoning program, please click here to visit the department’s website.

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