WHEREAS, the Asian American population has resided in the Chinatown neighborhood in the District of Columbia (between G Street NW and Massachusetts Avenue NW, and between 9th Street NW and 5th Street NW) since the 1930s; and
WHEREAS, the District of Columbia’s immigrant residents who identify as Asian American are predominately Limited English Proficient/No English Proficient (LEP/NEP) and classified as low-income; and
WHEREAS, the District of Columbia Language Access Act of 2004 requires that District agencies issue translated notices in Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and any other Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) languages likely to be spoken by at least 3 percent of the LEP/NEP population in the District, and provide interpreters and/or bilingual individuals in any language spoken by building residents; and
WHEREAS, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires that any landlord who receives funds from Housing and Urban Development provide language services to serve their residents in accordance with the law; and
WHEREAS, low-income Asian American families who contribute to the cultural diversity of the District as a whole have been, and continue to be, displaced involuntarily from their homes in Chinatown. In 2008, for example, the Temple Courts low-income housing complex at 33 K Street NW was demolished to make way for mixed-income housing, even though Federal guidelines mandate affordable housing at that address. Moreover, low-income Asian American families who currently reside in affordable housing properties in the District of Columbia, including, for example, Museum Square Apartments located at 401 K Street NW and Wah Luck House located at 800 6th Street NW, continue to face (or may face in the future) challenges from building owners and developers who seek to displace them from their homes.
WHEREAS, residents of affordable housing properties in the District of Columbia have a lawful right under the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) to purchase the building in which they reside at a price and terms that represent a bona fide offer of sale;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT:
1. The Asian/Pacific American Bar Association of the Greater Washington, DC Area (APABA-DC) supports measures to protect against the displacement of low-income Asian American and other minority tenants from affordable housing units in the District of Columbia.
2. APABA-DC supports the “TOPA Bona Fide Offer of Sale Clarification Amendment Act of 2015,” which was enacted, in part, to protect low-income tenants and provide further clarity to the TOPA. Among the protections this legislation offers, the TOPA Bona Fide Offer of Sale Clarification Amendment Act of 2015 would allow tenants seeking to purchase a property that would otherwise be demolished or converted to non-residential use to request that an independent appraisal be conducted to determine the market price of the property; and
3. APABA-DC supports the use of the District Opportunity to Purchase Act to preserve adequate affordable housing in the District of Columbia by allowing the District to purchase buildings to preserve affordable housing under certain circumstances; and
4. APABA-DC supports legislation to trigger TOPA when a building’s Section 8 contract expires; and
5. APABA-DC supports the District of Columbia’s efforts to preserve Chinatown by, for example, implementing measures to ensure that AAPI families (including low-income minority residents) can continue to reside in Chinatown and receive subsidies toward leasing costs; and
6. APABA-DC supports appropriate actions, including penalties, against any person or entity who unlawfully intimidates, displaces or attempts to displace tenants residing in affordable housing in the District of Columbia;
7. APABA-DC supports organizations that provide assistance to low-income residents of the District of Columbia, including, for example, the Housing Production Trust Fund, which allows District of Columbia residents who choose to exercise their rights under TOPA to have access to resources to subsidize the final cost of the building they intend to purchase) and ; and
8. APABA-DC supports tenant assistance groups and organizations, including, for example, Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center, Housing Counseling Services, and Latino Economic Development Center, and the Housing Production Trust Fund (which allows District of Columbia residents who choose to exercise their rights under TOPA to have access to resources to subsidize the final cost of the building they intend to purchase); and
9. APABA-DC supports the enforcement of the District of Columbia Language Access Act of 2004 requiring that specified agencies issue translated notices in Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and any other languages likely to be spoken in the Chinatown neighborhood, and provide interpreters and/or bilingual individuals to interact with building residents; the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requiring landlords that receive funds from Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to issue translated form letters to tenants informing them of their rights; fines and issuance of Correction Actions in the instance that these laws are not followed by building owners in the District that receive District or Federal funding; and residents’ legal right to organize and receive accurate information, including voucher forms, in their preferred language.
THERFORE BE IT RESOLVED that APABA-DC supports this resolution as a policy priority until it is withdrawn or modified by subsequent resolution.
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D.C. Code § 42-3404.01 et seq.