D.C.'s Rapidly Disappearing Affordable Housing

In a city that survived the recession better than most, efforts to meet the demand for upscale housing will "change the face of the city for decades to come," reports Annys Shin.

1 minute read

May 7, 2012, 12:00 PM PDT

By Jonathan Nettler @nettsj


According to Shin, the District's strong job market for young professionals, and a credit crunch that has made condominium conversion difficult, are putting immense pressure on the city's dwindling supply of affordable housing to undergo high-end makeovers. "As a result, low-cost rental housing is now disappearing at a faster rate than it was during the height of the housing boom, according to a new analysis of census data by the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute...The Institute found that between 2000 and 2010, the city lost 50 percent of its low-cost rental housing. The rate of loss has accelerated since 2008, when the credit crunch began to slow condo conversions."

Writing in the City Paper, Lydia DePillis, asks whether the city's restrictive zoning, including its recently debated height limits, are a reason for the decline of housing affordability.

"It's true, affordable housing people were the driving force behind inclusionary zoning, and smart growth advocates are getting to agitate more forcefully for the city to require developers who want public land to incorporate affordable housing into their proposals. But many developers avoid the public land process altogether, preferring not to deal with all the delays and frustrations. And affordable housing shouldn't be all about setting prices artificially low-it's also about letting builders build the amount of housing this city needs."

Sunday, May 6, 2012 in The Washington Post

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