DCHA Implements Carbon Monoxide Regulation into Housing Quality Standards
The District of Columbia Housing Authority has been diligently working to implement The D.C. Department of Consumer & Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) carbon monoxide and smoke alarm requirements into Housing Quality Standards (HQS). The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is in the process of drafting the first federal rule requiring carbon monoxide detectors in public housing. Since 2003, it has been reported that a total of 13 clients, throughout the U.S., in public housing dwellings have died, due to carbon monoxide poisoning. In order to comply with their mission, DCHA has adopted the regulation, to further ensure the safety of their Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCVP) participants.
In accordance with The District of Columbia Property Construction and Fire Codes, effective March 28, 2014, all new and existing buildings must have smoke alarms in every room used for sleeping purposes. Effective March 28, 2017, the carbon monoxide regulation was introduced by DCRA, stating all buildings with gas appliances must have a carbon monoxide detector located outside of the bedrooms (i.e. hallway).
The smoke and carbon monoxide detection system must be hard-wired for new buildings, however, battery operated alarms are still permissible for existing properties built prior to the implementation of the regulation. Existing property owners and landlords should be advised that at the time of a DCHA inspection, if it is found that the unit is undergoing renovations, the housing inspector can require the landlord to hard-wire smoke alarm(s), in order to pass the re-inspection. Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors must also be present in the common hallway(s), if the property is a multi-level building/home; however, carbon monoxide detectors will not be required for areas outside of the unit, unless a gas appliance exists outside of the private dwelling.
In order to easily comply with the regulation, housing providers are encouraged to install a dual system that detects when smoke and carbon monoxide fumes are present. However, depending on the construction of the property and its appliances, the location of the where the detection system should be installed, may vary.
For further details, please do visit https://dcra.dc.gov/cosmokealarm.
Looking Beyond the Voucher
The District of Columbia Housing Authority offers housing stability for its customers, but also is working to offer those families more opportunities that will be beneficial to themselves, as well as the greater community. For Housing Choice Voucher Program customers, there are the Beyond the Voucher (BtV) initiatives.
BtV was created to help HCVP families gain access to opportunities and supportive services that are not readily or previously available to them. The program initiatives focus on three different areas: Youth Engagement, Adult Self-Sufficiency, and Senior Stabilization.
BtV provides service learning and life-skills training for youth ranging from elementary to high school ages. These initiatives creatively combine life skills training with specific sports to engage the youth outside of the classroom. Some of these activities include football, basketball, soccer, baseball, learning to tie-a-tie, youth financial literacy, business etiquette, entrepreneurship, and much more.
Whereas, adult self-sufficiency aids families to be goal oriented and work towards gaining financial and economic independence. The goal for the initiatives is to help families move with a goal of being more self-sufficient and successful with and after the voucher.
As families grow older and into their senior years, DCHA saw the need to provide support and companionship to this aging population. Through the “Operation Get Out and Serve” initiative, twice during the year support services are provided to the elderly. These services include opportunities to come together, celebrate, and thank them for all they have done with our summer cookouts, Thanksgiving luncheons that include updates on city programs, dancing, and prize winning games.
BtV also provides specialized support services during its Season of Giving, which kicks-off in September each year. During this time, there are food and winter clothing drives, veterans appreciation events, and a Gift of Love event where Christmas presents are provided to families in need.
These efforts would be impossible without the many regional and citywide partnerships and organizations that see the need for these additional supportive services. The success of mentorship and economic independence has shown to have a positive impact on many communities. It has shown to dispel the stereotypes and dismiss the barriers that are often times unnecessary, unfounded, and unfair.
BtV continues to motivate, educate, and provide access to all DCHA families to improve their lives and their communities.
Cheryl Robinson, Director of the Office of Customer Engagement adds, “The Beyond the Voucher program continues to be a necessary staple when providing customer-facing activities for the families we serve.”
If you would like to participate or donate to these initiatives, please call us at 202-535-1000 and ask to speak with the Office of Customer Engagement to learn more.
Security Deposit Assistance
With rent steadily rising in the Nation’s Capital, it’s often difficult to find larger size units in an affordable price range even with a voucher. In addition, moving expenses can also make it nearly impossible for many residents to move. The District of Columbia Housing Authority recognizes these issues and is attempting to assist with one barrier Housing Choice Voucher participants face: security deposits.
DCHA will be providing security deposit assistance for HCVP families who meet specific qualifying factors and are unable to get assistance through other agencies.
Eligible participants will be notified at the time of their voucher issuance.
How Do I Apply?
First, you must find the unit that you would like to rent. The application for assistance should be submitted along with your Request for Tenancy Approval (RFTA). An application for the security deposit program cannot be processed until you have located a unit. The unit must meet HQS (Housing Quality Standards) and the contract rent must also be considered rent reasonable (no security deposit can exceed one month rent).
What Happens To The Security Deposit When I Move?
The security deposit assistance is to be considered a loan during the time that you occupy the unit. When you move, the landlord will be required to either return the full amount of the security deposit assistance to DCHA in the form of a check, or submit an itemized statement outlining what they are deducting from the deposit. In the event the security deposit is not returned due to tenant-caused damages, DCHA may pursue legal action to have the funds recouped from the tenant and tenant can also be recommended for termination from the program. If the funds are not returned due to a landlord fault, DCHA may pursue legal and recoupment action against the landlord.
Please be advised that the assistance is based upon the availability of funds.