Planetizen - Urban Planning News, Jobs, and Education

Family-Unfriendly Housing in Washington D.C.

As new construction favors single occupants and childless professionals, the capital's housing stock is increasingly boxing out families.
March 28, 2017, 8am PDT | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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Andrei Medvedev

There are signs that D.C.'s housing stock is becoming less family-friendly. Mark Chambers writes, "According to an Urban Institute study, four and five bedroom units make up only eight and four percent of the homes in the city, respectively. Given that almost 12% of families that rent have four or more people, even the unsubsidized market for multi-bedroom rental homes is fairly tight."

Why is this happening? Developers can make greater profits catering to the professional demographic living in one- and two-person households. Building small but "luxury" units for them increases the rate of return on larger developments. At the same time, older buildings contain many of the units with three or more bedrooms. When they're redeveloped, one to two bedrooms becomes the norm.

"Finally, a more insidious and dangerous trend is appearing: language that implies the idea that families with children don't belong in neighborhoods with childless millennials and empty nester baby-boomers." Chambers advocates changes to the Comprehensive Plan to address the problem. 

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Published on Tuesday, March 21, 2017 in Greater Greater Washington
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