Brief Combating Rising Evictions in the District of Columbia with Housing Subsidies
Elizabeth Burton, Leah Hendey, Peter A. Tatian
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Since the onset of the pandemic, local leaders have used several policy tools, including eviction moratoria, new court processes, and emergency rental assistance to prevent evictions. The District of Columbia made use of federal emergency rental assistance resources through the STAY DC program, deploying $404 million in rental assistance between 2020 and 2021 that helped keep residents housed. But with the eviction moratoria long ended and federal resources nearly all expended, tenants remain unable to afford their rent. The number of evictions executed in 2024 is on pace to reach prepandemic levels, and an estimated 14 percent of DC renter households reported that they are not caught up on their rent payments. Furthermore, an estimated 58,800 renter households with very low incomes in DC have higher housing costs than what they can afford to pay,

Fully funded housing assistance programs that effectively work together can provide a more comprehensive housing support system that would keep DC households with low incomes stably housed, help prevent further displacement, and ensure that households receive the appropriate type of assistance based on their needs. With this in mind, and to guide future funding discussions, we estimate how many more eligible households in DC could be served by deep subsidies, shallow subsidies, and rental assistance that serve households with incomes below 50 percent of the area median income (AMI). Our definitions and estimates are as follows: 

  • Deep subsidies cover the gap between the cost of rent and what households with the lowest incomes (30 percent of AMI and below) can afford to pay, which is defined as 30 percent of the household’s income. These subsidies stay with the household long term if they continue to qualify. Without any additional federally funded vouchers or public housing units, we estimate the need for $549 million to locally fund DC’s Local Rent Supplement Program (LRSP) vouchers—an increase of $380 million per year.
  • Shallow subsidies help households between 30 and 50 percent of AMI afford their rent but may not cover the whole gap between monthly income and the cost of rent. These subsidies also end after a certain time period, such as five years in the case of DC’s FLEX program. Funding a more robust shallow housing subsidy for the 16,700 households in DC between 30 and 50 percent of AMI would cost an estimated $153 million.
  • Emergency rental assistance, as defined in DC, helps cover a few months of rent once a year for households at 40 percent of AMI and below who are facing a financial emergency and the threat of eviction or homelessness. ERAP would need between $76 million and $108 million to prevent evictions among those eligible for the program, but even with this level of funding, thousands of residents would remain unstably housed.
Research Areas Housing Neighborhoods, cities, and metros Greater DC
Tags Housing subsidies Evictions Housing affordability
Policy Centers Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center
Research Methods Data analysis
States District of Columbia
Cities Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV
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