Oct 31, 2016
Washington, D.C. officials have given developers hundreds of millions of dollars of city-owned land at low prices; extended them millions of dollars of low interest loans; excused millions of dollars of property taxes, and gave other subsidies, all worth about 200 million dollars a year. Officials justified this by pointing to promises the developers make to hire city construction workers and contractors and build affordable apartments.
Yet city agencies have not bothered to count how many people were hired or how many units were affordable. When community activists fought to get this information for recent projects, it turned out the developers hired many fewer workers than they'd promised and built many fewer affordable apartments. For example, a hotel developer in the Adams Morgan neighborhood hired only one quarter of the 342 jobs promised. For the last 32 years, the city has not once fined a developer for breaking a pledge.
The community benefits promised are little more than the city’s excuse to give subsidies to developers! And while D.C. might be exceptionally shameless about this, other cities sacrifice money for schools and public services in just the same way.