New Role Prioritizes Preservation of Existing Affordable Housing in Washington, DC
Mayor Muriel Bowser announced the appointment of Ana Lopez Van Balen as the first Affordable Housing Preservation Officer for the District of Columbia. The Mayor’s Housing Preservation Strike Force recommended the creation of this position, located within the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), to lead efforts to preserve the District’s existing affordable housing stock.
“When I established the Strike Force in 2015, its mandate was clear—develop an action plan that ensures the District does not lose any of its already existing affordable housing,” said Mayor Bowser. “Ana has a strong background in economic, housing, and community development, strategic planning, and engagement, and we know she will serve the residents of DC well.”
Lopez Van Balen has more than 15 years of executive experience at the national and regional levels in community development, real estate development, and negotiation. She previously served as the National Director of Community Development and Innovation for Urban Strategies and as a cabinet member for Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett.
A November 2016 report by the Mayor’s Housing Preservation Strike Force recommended the creation of a Preservation Unit and the appointment of a new Preservation Officer as one of six critical strategies to preserve affordable rental housing in the District. The Preservation Unit was funded in the Mayor’s FY 2017 budget and will focus on preserving affordable units that currently exist with and without government subsidies and on collecting and maintaining data on all affordable housing opportunities in the city.
“Ana’s qualifications and unique skill set are perfectly suited for the role of the District’s first Affordable Housing Preservation Officer,” said DHCD Director Polly Donaldson. “She’s experienced with community outreach; gifted in forming relationships with real estate and housing advocacy stakeholders; adept in negotiation; and proficient at managing administrative, data and financial processes. We look forward to her work with the DHCD team to help preserve more rental housing in the District.”
Lopez Van Balen, who starts her new role today, is a 2016 Presidential Leadership Scholar, was selected as one of The Daily Record’s Maryland’s Top 100 Women in 2014 and, in 2009, was named Washingtonian of the Year by Washingtonian Magazine as well as a winner of the Eugene & Agnes E. Meyer Foundation Exponent Award. She received a Bachelor of Science from Vanderbilt University and a Master of Science and Social Science from Columbia University. Lopez Van Balen is a Ward 1 resident.
Since coming into office, the Bowser Administration has sparked the preservation or production of more than 10,400 affordable units, with another 2,950 units in preconstruction. In fiscal year 2017, the District made historic investments in affordable housing, getting more than $138 million in Housing Production Trust Fund financing out the door to support 23 projects that will produce or preserve more than 1,900 affordable units. In October, Mayor Bowser announced that eight projects from the Spring 2017 RFP were awarded $75 million in HPTF financing. Those projects are anticipated to produce or preserve more than 500 affordable housing units and create about 70 permanent supportive housing units. Last year, the District was recognized for its multi- pronged approach to housing production and preservation, homeownership, and development of vacant properties when it was selected for the Urban Land Institute’s Larson Housing Policy Leadership Award.