Yesterday, the DC Council passed the Single-family Home Exemption Amendment Act of 2018, which substantially undercuts the existing Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA). The current TOPA law gives renters the right of first refusal to purchase the unit or home they are living in if the owner chooses to sell the property. Over the years, this law has protected residents from being displaced, and allowed them an opportunity to purchase property they otherwise would not have an opportunity to own.
TOPA has protected an estimated 1,400 affordable housing units in the last decade. Yesterday, it was dismantled.
The bill exempts single-family homes from the current TOPA law. The effect of the new law will be to diminish the rights of tenants throughout the city, and make it harder for them to remain in their neighborhoods or purchase homes. Make no mistake: this bill harms low-income residents by making it harder for them to remain in their homes. It has been strongly opposed by tenants’ rights groups throughout the city, including the DC Tenants’ Rights Center, Legal Counsel for the Elderly, Legal Aid Society of DC, TENAC, ONE DC, and the Latino Economic Development Center.
However, the bill has the support of wealthy DC developers and real estate interests, all of whom have made substantial campaign donations to my opponent, Charles Allen. So it should come as no surprise that he is a cosponsor of this horrible bill. There is no data showing that the bill will solve a problem. There is no data showing that the bill will not accelerate displacement. They passed it anyway. Yet, these real estate donors packed the Council chamber yesterday, and cheered Mr. Allen on as he cast his vote to strip tenants of their rights. It was a truly sickening display of everything that is wrong with insider DC politics.
Elections have consequences, and votes reflect values. The vote Mr. Allen took yesterday does not reflect the values of our community, it reflects the interests of the wealthy donors who bought his vote. It is going to force countless longtime residents out of our communities and increase the rapid pace of displacement already occurring in our Ward. This is a problem Mr. Allen should be solving, not accelerating.
Ward 6 went over 92 percent for Hillary in 2016. I believe our community has a shared set of progressive values that demand we lift our neighbors up, we don’t leave them behind. We are a community that supports our neighbors, we don’t change our laws in order to force them out of their homes. It’s time we elect a leader who votes accordingly.