Report: D.C.’s housing market is segregated, not varied

Washington, D.C.’s population is expected to climb all the way up to 700,000 with an average monthly growth of 803 residents. But where will these new residents go? With limited affordable housing options in the District, the city has become more affluent, less diverse, and more segregated, according to a new report by the D.C. Policy Center.

The report, called “Taking Stock of the District’s Housing Stock: Capacity, Affordability, and Pressures on Family Housing,” offers a comprehensive look at long-term solutions for low- and middle-class families in the District. It also offers various interactive maps, including one that shows where to find specific types of housing in the city, such as single-family homes, condos, co-ops, and apartments.

There are four key findings from the report. First, the undersupply of affordable housing for low- and middle-income families is partially influenced by competition from affluent singles and couples. Restrictive land use policies further contribute to a housing stock that is not varied. Furthermore, there is a lack of public investments and amenities for communities east of the Anacostia River. Finally, the housing market has become “extremely segregated.”

Very few single-family homes between 1,500 and 1,800 square feet in the city are able to accommodate a family of four, while also able to be afforded at or below the area median income. According to the D.C. Policy Center, only 28 percent, or 4,764 properties, are “potentially affordable” to households making the area median income with three-quarters of these properties located in only seven neighborhoods: Brightwood, Brookland, Petworth, Woodridge, Congress Heights, Deanwood, and Hillcrest. Most of the units that are affordable for low-income families are east of the Anacostia River, while the most expensive ones can be found west of Rock Creek Park.

Screenshot of interactive housing map

Approximately one-third of housing units in Washington, D.C. (or approximately 103,250 units) are owner-occupied, while rental apartments make up 59 percent of residential units. Additional notes by the report include that home ownership is highest in the Northeast quadrant due to the concentration of seniors, while the lowest homeownership rate is found in the Southeast quadrant. In the Southeast quadrant, renters make up 82 percent of the 58,340 housing units, half of which are rentals.

Screenshot of interactive housing map

“I think right now the most important thing is how can we take advantage of the market forces to bring affordability?” said the study’s author, economist Yesim Sayin Taylor, in an interview with WAMU. “I see the most straightforward way of doing it is just to build more.”

In an interview with WAMU, Taylor recommended updating zoning and land-use policies, attracting private development, and encouraging both public and private investments in low-amenity neighborhoods.

For more in-depth details on housing in Washington, D.C., as well as additional interactive maps, be sure to check out the D.C. Policy Center’s full report here.

• Taking Stock of the District’s Housing Stock: Capacity, Affordability, and Pressures on Family Housing [D.C. Policy Center]

• More Density In Upper Northwest Could Help Solve D.C.’s Affordable Housing Crisis: Study [WAMU]

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