Washington D.C. is working to increase the availability of affordable housing for its residents, with more than one-third of all households in the district spending more than 30 percent of their income on monthly housing payments and utilities. To help ensure equitable housing options for residents, district officials have prioritized reviewing rent control policies. Though rent control law is in place to preserve affordable housing, rental records are on paper or in PDF format, limiting the ability to identify if rental control policies are working to help residents in need. To rectify this, the Office of the Tenant Advocate has been mandated to develop a digital form submission and database and collect data on all rental properties in the district, delivering the system to the Department of Housing and Community Development to kick off a landlord re-registration process.
To support this work, the Department of Housing and Community Development will partner with FUSE Executive Fellow Kwasi Frye for one year to help inform the design of the database by helping the district think through how its customers—landlords, residents, rent control advocates, and tenant organizers and community members at-large—can use the system for their respective purposes. Kwasi will also lead the development and implementation of customer service and operations plans. A centralized database for rental records will allow district officials to better address inequities in controlling rent costs and protecting socio-economically vulnerable residents.