Priced Out Of The Nation's Capital

Developers and housing advocates disagree about the merits of mandatory affordable housing provisions
December 3, 2004, 10am PST | Abhijeet Chavan
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Washington, D.C. is in the midst of a major housing boom. New units are going up all over the city, and historic neighborhoods are gentrifying at alarming rates. Since 1999, the average home price in the city has nearly doubled to $452,664. Affordable housing advocates are pushing legislation, termed inclusionary zoning, that would require new developments larger than ten units to reserve 7.5 to 15 percent of those unites for low and moderate income households. In exchange, developers will be allowed to build at higher densities than allowed by current zoning laws. City councilman Jim Graham says that the law would "send an important message to future development in the city that we're going to have mixed-income residences." Developers see things differently. PN Hoffman, a major firm in the District, thinks that if developers have "the burden of paying for the affordable housing, then there won't be enough of a margin in the deal for lenders to provide the money to build. They will simply go to the outer jurisdictions to build." An inclusionary text amendment is currently before the D.C.Board of Zoning Adjustment and will be voted on early in 2005. Such legislation would help in attracting Mayor Williams' goal of 100,000 new city residents during his second term.

Thanks to Peter Buryk

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Published on Monday, November 22, 2004 in The Washington Post
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