Buwa Binitie quits DC Housing Finance Agency Board of Directors
After eight years as chairman of the board of DC Housing Finance Agency, a well-connected housing developer Buwa Binitié quietly resigned, city paper has learned. The agency made no public announcement of his departure, but Binitie’s photo and biography were removed from its website.
Binitie’s two-year term expired at the end of June and on July 9 he emailed steven walker of the Mayor’s Office of Talents and Appointments with his resignation.
“I have received official notice that my term on the DC Housing Finance Agency (DCHFA) Board of Directors expired on 6/28/2022,” Binitie wrote. “It is therefore with great sadness that I tender my resignation effective this date, confirmed by my signature below.”
Director of DCHFA Christopher Donald followed by an email to the rest of the board members, praising Binitie for his leadership “during an intimidating time”. Donald also noted Binitie’s “frequent presence” at staff events, inaugurations, ribbon inaugurations and holiday parties.
Similar to agencies in some states, the DCHFA board is responsible for approving funding for low-to-moderate income housing, such as DC’s granting of tax-exempt bonds. Bonds are a relatively small subsidy in the grand scheme of most housing projects, but they come with low-income housing tax credits, which are essential for these projects.
“During his last term, DCHFA launched HIP, ReMIT, DC MAP and several additional initiatives that have emboldened every division of the Agency,” Donald wrote in his email to board members. “Buwa has frequently commented on the demonstrated resilience and innovative spirit of DCHFA staff. On behalf of the staff, I would like to thank him for his guidance and leadership on the board during some of the agency’s most laudable years.
Binitie, the managing director of Dantes Partners, writes in an e-mail to city paper that serving on the DCHFA Board of Directors “has been a true honor and frankly an incredible opportunity to serve the Mayor as well as the residents of the District of Columbia by breaking new ground in affordable housing, for which I am eternally grateful.
“When I joined the board 8 years ago, Dantes Partners was a 5 person company concentrated in one location and today we are a 75+ person company spanning multiple states “, he continues. “My goal now is: to learn how to be the best leader of an incredible group of people who are working tirelessly to solve America’s affordable housing crisis; spending my time educating/nurturing the next generation of black and brown developers; and working to expand my philanthropic efforts through the Binitie Family Foundation.
Binitie did not respond to a follow-up question asking if he had been offered a reappointment and turned it down or if the mayor Muriel Bowser chose not to renew it.
According to CC code, Bowser had 30 days from the time Binitie left the board to name his replacement. The law also states that council members “shall serve until a successor has qualified” and does not appear to impose a limit on the number of times a member can be reappointed. “All members are eligible for renomination,” the code reads.
Despite praise from his DCHFA colleagues, Binitie’s role on the board has raised eyebrows throughout his tenure. As a well-connected housing developer himself, Binitie regularly has business that comes before the board. He recused himself when these items were put to a vote (as do other board members in similar positions). But his power to approve or deny funding from other developers gives at least the appearance of a conflict of interest.
And like city paper reported last yearin at least one instance, Binitie voted to approve funding for a project, then later joined the project as a consultant and property manager.
DCHFA Spokesperson Yolanda McCutchen says she didn’t see that Bowser chose Binitie’s replacement. Vice-president steve green will serve as interim president, McCutchen said. The Board of Directors still has a quorum and continues to meet twice a month.