So, former Mayor-for-Life, current Ward 8 Councilman has proposed some housing bills recently, some not bad, others…. I don’t want to call them ‘stupid’ but I can’t find another word. It seems his heart is in the right place.
Let’s start off with the not-bad proposed legislation, Housing Support for Teachers Act of 2007 B17-0095, sponsored by our own Harry Thomas Jr., Vincent Gray, Carol Schwartz, Kwame Brown, and Marion Barry. A quick look at it seems to offer funds of $5K for individual teachers with moving expenses, housing down payments, and housing stipend. Good stuff for teachers. No complaint here.
The next one I mentioned to someone and he proclaimed the “Evictions with Dignity Amendment Act” as stupid. To me it is not so much stupid, but it looks like a huge liability for the city. Does the city have tons of storage space for people’s stuff? And what happens when someone precious thingamabob heirloom dohicky gets damaged by a water leak while in the City’s care? Anyway it is co-sponsored with Kwame Brown.
And the last of Barry proposed legislation that should be cause for concern for anyone who is/ will/ has rented out their basement, condo, house or part of their house, the Rent Control Expansion Amendment Act of 2007 (PDF). Barry is the sole sponsor of this really bad idea, that would seem to make every rental-able unit in the city subject to the Rent Control laws, which are now just limited to units of 4 or more. If I’m interpreting this thing right (and I hope I’m not) this would mess with owners of single units, and increase their risk. Also there are a lot of things that go into the expense for a single (or double if it is a house with a rentable basement) landlord that are beyond the control of that person that it seems rent control ignores, like condo fees and skyrocketing tax assessments. The proposed bill is very short and left me with two big questions. One was does it include single and half units (room in house)? And in Sec.3 ‘Fiscal impact statement’ is the language saying there will be an study of some sort to see what economic impact such legislation would have or is it saying that this will be based on a fiscal impact statement that was done already? If there is a study to be done, I hope the city would take a look at incentives for people to decide to make their basements rental units, or to rent out their condos or houses (short-term/ indefinitely) over just selling their properties. People make choices about what to do with their homes and the city shouldn’t put something out there that would give homeowners second thoughts about renting out their place as an extra source of income, and thus taking some units off the legal* market.
*Regarding basement units there are height and other requirements, but some folks rent out their basements regardless, and illegally.