For Release: Immediately
Contact: (202) 288-1921
TENAC'S CHOICES FOR THE 2022 DC PRIMARY:
NO ENDORSEMENT FOR DC MAYOR
YES to Palmer for Chair; Gore for At-Large;
Frumin for Ward 3; Parker for Ward 5; Spiva for AG
TENAC Cites Robert White's Support of
"Means Testing" for Rent Control
Though by Far the Best Mayoral Candidate,
White Has Offered a Plan, Which, Whether Intended or Not, If Put Together with Bowser's Scheme for "Converting" Rent Control Units to Subsidized Housing,
Amounts to a Multi-Faceted Attack on Rent Control;
These Plans Would Eventually Remove All Units Across the City From Rent Control and Deprive Workforce,
Middle Income and Fixed Income Tenants
of the City's Remaining Affordable Housing Stock
MAYOR: NO ENDORSEMENT - Of the three major mayoral candidates, only Councilmember Robert White participated in the TENAC Candidates Forum on May 19th. Mayor Bowser and Councilmember Trayon White did not appear to answer questions of concern to tenants, who make up 60 percent of DC. You can view all 2022 TENAC Candidates Forums at http://www.facebook.com/TENACDC
We think Robert is a terrific candidate and would obviously make a far better mayor than the incumbent; we think Robert White's plans for guaranteed jobs, policing reform and the environment would make DC a more humane city. But we issue no endorsement as a wake up call to all regarding means testing. White affirmed his support for "means testing" rent control in both the 2020 and 2022 TENAC forums. Some advocates even assert that his related legislation looks like an obviously developer-written bill.
Means testing would mean renting units based on tenant income. Means testing would deny rent control protection to many tenants. Moreover, all voucher tenants already qualify for rent control apartments by virtue of their vouchers and have no need of a means test. Workforce, middle income and fixed income tenants would be excluded from rent control apartments. This proposal strikes at the foundation of rent control, to preserve housing with a minimum of bureaucracy for middle income and workforce tenants, major contributors to the life and diversity of the city.
Rent Control is the way to protect tenants from landlord price gouging and price fixing, not just for some but for all. Handing the administration of a public program over to private landlords by means testing tenants opens the door to mischief and foul play, the creation of loopholes, and further chipping away of rent control. "Means testing" is really a "means to destroy" rent control. The fact that it is something real estate interests have sought for years and tenants have opposed, speaks volumes.
Little mentioned by most media outlets and DC influencers, Mayor Bowser is attacking rent control with her little known Rock Creek West (RCW) Plan. Tucked away in her report to avoid public scrutiny, one provision of the plan calls for "converting rent stabilized units" into subsidized units, directly eroding the supply of controlled units. Such a plan would make DC a city of only the very rich and the very poor, excluding the diversity of the middleclass/ workforce she says she wants. Indeed, the mayor recently told NBC4 reporter Mark Segraves that while she supported the Council's extension of rent control, she would have to "get back to him" on the impact of the RCW plan's call for "converting what are now rent stabilized units" into subsidized units.
COUNCIL CHAIR: ERIN PALMER. Council Chair Phil Mendelson has taken pro-tenant positions, such as opposition to means testing (which he correctly notes would be a disaster to administer) and for conducting studies of U Street NW upzoning for the firehouse/police station property before handing it to developers. Even Mendelson acknowledged that means testing would disqualify fixed income seniors of all colors for affordable units. While he has received our endorsement in the past, the landscape has changed and the results of his chairmanship are apparent. He takes credit for affordable housing laws that look good on the surface but underneath are full of loopholes. Allowing the definition of "affordable housing" to include high income and luxury units, in order to qualify developers for large subsidies - - a virtual scam done with taxpayer money, is one example. Erin Palmer has pledged to fix the loopholes. For example, she has firmly pledged to support expanding the number of buildings covered by rent control. Her overall record is solidly progressive and we wholeheartedly endorse her.
AT-LARGE: LISA GORE is our choice. She has bona fides as an federal investigator of HUD improprieties. She will get to the bottom of "misplaced" millions of dollars allocated for affordable housing. And she will remedy abuses rampant in DCHA. She is a strong supporter of renters rights, and is solid on renters' issues like opposition to means testing; she supports expanding rent control to newer buildings. If Gore replaces Bonds (who even The Post calls ineffective), she will wisely steward housing policy that Bonds has failed to oversee.
WARD 1: BRIANNE NADEAU. Councilmember Nadeau has come a long way from her initial opposition to rent control when she was first elected eight years ago. She has grown in office. She has learned the need for rent control and tenants' rights not just among her constituents, but for the entire city. She went on to sponsor the landmark rent control reform bill favored by tenants, and presumably lost her chair on the council's housing committee for it. Who says doing the right thing does not pay, at least eventually? We hope the public sees our endorsement in that light. We await the results of her helping tenants being displaced at Park Morton. Some activists say she is weak against developers. Worse, advocates say that the "promises" "exacted" from developers who have "promised" the right of return for tenants of Park Morton aren't worth the paper they're written on. We'll be watching closely and weigh the results from the mouths of the tenants themselves. Honorable Mention goes to Sabel Harris, who is a strong activist, taking strong pro-tenant and progressive positions. We hope to see more of her in politics.
WARD 3: MATTHEW FRUMIN, WITH TWO HONORABLE MENTIONS. Our endorsement team was torn, attempting to select the best from three good candidates: Beau Finley, Ben Bergmann and Matthew Frumin. After much debate, Frumin carried the day. We award Honorable Mention to Bergmann and Finley, two candidates who strongly support tenants' rights. We are both hopeful and confident that we will see them on the political scene in the future. We decidedly recommend not voting for Post-endorsed Eric Goulet. He opposes many key renter issues, and his proposed solution for special needs and disabled voucher tenants in Ward 3 seems unnecessarily harsh. A kinder solution can be reached that benefits all tenants and communities involved.
WARD 5: ZACHARY PARKER. We believe Zachary Parker is the best candidate for Ward 5 voters. We believe he will stand up for renters rights, and help fix the problems at Brookland Manor so long ignored by the current incumbent.
WARD 6: CHARLES ALLEN. He is unopposed in the primary, and we endorse him not for that reason, but because he has been favored renter issues on numerous issues. His opposition to allowing rent increases for the most affordable apartments during the pandemic rent freeze and his vote to raise taxes on millionaires stand out. We wait to see if any viable challenger to Allen emerges as an independent in November.
ATTORNEY GENERAL: BRUCE SPIVA. In what has now become a competitive race due to the departure of Councilmember McDuffie, we again found three good candidates. But Spiva's long record fighting against corporations and battling for civil liberties won our endorsement. Special Mention: Ryan Jones. We hope to see Ryan on the scene in the future. His progressive positions and out-of-the-box approach, such as creation of an SEC-type body to monitor fairness in real estate transactions should have a promising future, as he does, we believe.
DELEGATE: ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON. TENAC endorses the longtime incumbent, Eleanor Norton, who has a long record of achievement in affordable housing. Her fix to remedy the deficiency in the CARES Act funding for pandemic aid where DC was shortchanged is particularly noteworthy. Her enthusiastic pledge to establish an office of tenant advocate on the federal level would be groundbreaking, and could introduce nationwide statutory rights for tenants.
SHADOW REPRESENTATIVE: OYE OLOLEWA. Oye has done an excellent job helping tenants organize and fight for their rights. He has also performed ably in making statehood a cause as an ambassador on statehood to the states and localities outside DC. We recommend him for a second term.