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February 19, 2014

Continuous Winter

Dear Sufferers:

“So,” the television anchor said, “we had a brilliant morning with some sunshine. Where did it all go?” This winter has performed like Washington’s sports teams — two nice days in a row has been the same as two winning games in a row, rare enough to constitute winning streak. A half day that’s mild and pleasant soon turns cold and stormy. Haven’t you had about enough?

Gary Imhoff


DC Public Housing Residents Face Avoidable Affordable Care Act Crisis
Samuel Jordan,

In November 2013, Karen Settles, president of the District of Columbia Housing Authority’s (DCHA’s) Citywide Advisory Board (CWAB), proposed to the DCHA a District-wide, public housing Affordable Care Act (ACA) information and enrollment program. The ACA requires all persons who are eligible for enrollment in a “qualified health plan” to be enrolled by the March 31, 2014, deadline or suffer the penalties – $95 per person, up to $285 in each penalized household or 1 percent of total personal or household income, whichever is greater. Citing limitations in the law, officials from the DC Health Link, the District’s new health insurance marketplace, informed the CWAB in December 2013 that “we are not funded to serve that population sector.” When asked to identify the specific provisions in the ACA, DC Health Link officials have been mute.

In response to Settles’ CWAB proposal, DCHA refused to enter into an agreement that would hold the agency accountable for supporting the ACA informational and enrollment services with resident services funds from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development-required $25 per unit assessment. In its reply to CWAB’s Freedom of Information Act request, DCHA has also refused to provide a full accounting and audit of the per unit assessment fund. Settles said that, as a result of DC Health Link’s reservations about serving that population sector and DCHA’s refusal to enter into an agreement with CWAB to do so, “. . . hundreds, and maybe over a thousand public housing residents will not be able to make informed choices about health insurance plans as mandated by law in the Affordable Care Act by the March 31st deadline.”

In a February 2014 CWAB planning meeting, Settles said that “CWAB views DC Health Link and DCHA as responsible for any and all ACA penalties imposed upon residents of DC public housing communities in the absence of ACA informational and enrollment services.” The DCHA manages more than 8,300 public housing units. About 45.3 percent of the more than 14,000 tenants live in three-person households and earn an annual average income of $20,574 — just above the 2013 Federal Poverty Level (FPL) of $19,536 for a family that size. Many of the residents in these households may be eligible for health care coverage from the DC HealthCare Alliance. The Alliance offers health care coverage for persons earning less than 200 percent of the FPL, but who have no insurance and are not Medicaid/Medicare eligible. Another 12 percent of the residents are seniors over the age of 64, and most are likely Medicaid/Medicare eligible. The rest, in larger and smaller households, face the “individual mandate” in the ACA to obtain health insurance plans by the March 31 deadline.


InTowner February Issue Content Uploaded
P.L. Wolff,

The February issue content can be viewed at, including the issue PDF in which will be found the primary news stories and museum exhibition reviews — plus all photos and other images. Not included in the PDF but linked directly from the home page is Stephen A. Hansen’s “What Once Was” feature, this month about Alice Pike Barney (with tidbits we never knew) and her famous Studio House on Sheridan Circle.

This month’s lead stories include the following: 1) “Ward 1 Residents Reject Zoning Changes Proposed by OP at Packed Public Meeting”; 2) “Controversial Mt. Pleasant Small-Scale Plan Design Nixed by Preservation Board”; 3) “Dupont and Logan Circle Parents Seeking OK for Parks Department Toddler Program at Stead.” Also to be found on the web site pages is the recent real estate sales feature along with the “Reservations Recommended” and “Food in the ‘Hood” columns.

Our editorial focuses on the city council nearing final action to provide major property tax relief to elderly homeowners who have resided in their homes for many years, thereby ensuring that they will not be driven out as a result of residential property assessments rising at an increasing clip across all eight wards. Your thoughts are welcome and can be sent by clicking the comment link at the bottom of the web page or by E-mail to letters [at] The next issue PDF will publish early in the morning of March 14 (the second Friday of the month as usual). For more information, either send an E-mail to newsroom[at] or call 234-1717.


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