Housing Crunch Threatens D.C.’s Thriving Economy

In the next 20 years, the D.C. area is expected to have nearly 3 million job openings. With the resulting demand for new, diverse and more affordable housing outpacing supply, some fear that the city’s housing deficit will derail its robust economy.

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October 19, 2012, 12:00 PM PDT

By Erica Gutiérrez


In their second entry in a 5-part series on workforce housing in the Washington D.C. area, authors Lisa Sturtevant and Agnes Artemel contend that "housing the workforce" will be imperative to guaranteeing Washington's future economic success. They argue that the city's projected housing deficit could lead to higher rents, more traffic congestion and strained transit systems -- in a region that is severely dependent on non-resident workers and commuters.

Citing forecasts from the George Mason University Center for Regional Analysis, Sturtevant and Artemel point to an estimated 25% gap in the future provision of housing. This statistic is based on projected job growth requiring "over 700,000 new housing units by 2030", and the current pace of construction, which supplies only 28,000 housing units per year instead of the needed 36,500 units.

The authors examine the role that the public and private sectors will need to play in helping to solve this dilemma. "Most local governments are not planning enough housing for their future workers, and may hinder new housing with regulations on new development. Meanwhile, builders need to recognize the need for more multi-family housing and smaller, more affordable owner and renter homes in the region."

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