Dismantling D.C.'s Myth of Unaffordability

Katie Pearce discusses the surprising findings of a new study from the Center for Housing Policy and the Center for Neighborhood Technology that evaluates why it can be more affordable to live in an “expensive” city.

Read Time: 1 minute

October 21, 2012, 1:00 PM PDT

By Jonathan Nettler @nettsj


We've heard a lot recently about Washington D.C.'s affordable housing crisis. So how could it be that a recent report would list the city as among the most affordable in the country?

"First and most importantly," says Pearce, "adjust for average income levels. Then,
factor in transportation costs. Using that formula, the D.C. region is
tops among 25 American metro areas in a new study from the Center for
Housing Policy and the Center for Neighborhood Technology that looks at
the ability of moderate-income households to shoulder the burden of housing and transportation costs [PDF]. The notoriously pricey Boston and San Francisco also make it into the top six."

"Measuring affordable living by looking strictly at housing costs,
without including transportation, 'tends to mislead people,' said Scott
Bernstein, president of the Center for Neighborhood Technology, in a
teleconference yesterday. Gathering this information comprehensively, he said, 'has profound implications for a set of policy choices.'"

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