Code of the District of Columbia

§ 42–3503.03. Authorization to enter into contracts for tenant assistance payments; determination of eligibility; procedure upon determination of eligibility.

(a) The Mayor may enter into contracts to make rental assistance payments to housing providers of rental dwelling units on behalf of eligible families in accordance with this section. Unit A of Chapter 3 of Title 2 shall not apply to the contracts authorized by this subchapter.

(b) Except as otherwise provided in this subsection, the fair market rents applicable to the Tenant Assistance Program shall be the fair market rents established annually by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) for new construction and substantial rehabilitation in the Washington, D.C., market. The Department, by rule, may establish the fair market rents for units in sizes for which there is no fair market rent established by HUD. If the Department, after reviewing the fair market rents established by HUD for the Washington, D.C., market, determines that the amounts do not accurately reflect fair market rents in the District, the Department may, by rule, adjust the amounts. If the proposed fair market rents vary from the fair market rents established by HUD, the Department shall submit a resolution for approval of the proposed fair market rents to the Council of the District of Columbia (“Council”) for a 45-day period of review, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, legal holidays, and days of Council recess. If the Council does not approve or disapprove the proposed resolution, in whole or in part, within this 45-day review period, the proposed resolution shall be deemed approved.

(c) Applications to participate in the Tenant Assistance Program shall be submitted to the Department and shall be in a form designated by the Department. The Department shall be responsible for verifying the sources of the family’s income and gathering information necessary for determining eligibility and the amount of the assistance payment. Priority shall be given to the elderly, individuals with disabilities, single-parent households, and applicants who have completed any employment training course provided by any District agency.

(d) If an applicant is determined by the Department to be eligible and is selected for participation, the applicant shall be given a certificate of eligibility. At the same time, the family shall be given a certificate holder’s packet which contains a request for lease approval, a list of properties for rent, information concerning recently completed housing, if any, including the location, and other items the Department determines should be included. In addition, the Department shall provide a full explanation of the following to assist the family in finding a suitable rental unit and to apprise the family and the housing provider of their respective responsibilities:

(1) Family and housing provider responsibilities under the lease contract;

(2) The general locations and characteristics of the neighborhood in which units of suitable quality and price may be found;

(3) Applicable laws and housing standards;

(4) Significant aspects of applicable federal and District law, including fair housing law;

(5) The applicable fair market rent; and

(6) Information on how the Department computes the amount of the tenant assistance payment.

(e) Upon determination of eligibility the Department shall enter on each certificate the smallest unit-size appropriate for the eligible family consistent with the following criteria:

(1) The number of bedrooms indicated as appropriate shall not require more than 2 persons to occupy the same bedroom.

(2) The number of bedrooms indicated as appropriate shall not require persons of the opposite sex other than spouses, except for children under 12 years of age, to occupy the same bedroom.

(3) All single-person households shall be assigned a 0-bedroom unit if 0-bedroom units are available. Where there are no 0-bedroom units available, single-person households shall be assigned a 1-bedroom unit. A single, elderly person or single person with a disability planning to live with an unrelated person essential to his or her care may be assigned a 2-bedroom unit.

(f)(1) The Department shall maintain a system to assure that it will be able to honor all outstanding certificates of eligibility with its funding authorization.

(2) Nothing in this subchapter shall be construed as creating an entitlement to assistance payments in the absence of appropriations sufficient to fund this program.

(g)(1) The certificate of eligibility shall expire at the end of 90 days unless within that time the family submits a completed request for lease approval. If the certificate expires, or is about to expire, the family may submit the certificate to the Department with a request for an extension. The Department may grant 1 or more 60-day extensions to any family that continuously demonstrates good faith efforts to locate a suitable rental unit. Expiration of the certificate shall not preclude the family from filing a new application for another certificate.

(2) If an assisted family notifies the Department that it wishes to obtain another certificate of eligibility for the purpose of moving to another rental unit within the District, the Department shall issue another certificate or process a request for lease approval, unless the Department determines that the housing provider is entitled to payment under § 42-3503.04(d) on account of nonpayment of rent or other amount owed under the lease, and that the family has failed to satisfy any liability.

(h) Owners of rental accommodations in the District shall notify tenants of the existence of the Tenant Assistance Program and shall refer interested parties to the Department for further information.