DC

According to an article in the Washington Examiner:

A task force charged with creating more affordable housing in the District has fallen far short of its goals and poor leadership and data tracking are just as much to blame as the recession, a new report says.

The Examiner notes that the task force’s mission is even more important five years into it’s creation, as continued inflow of high income households into DC has lead to even more unaffordable housing costs. According to a Brookings Institution report, this trend could be mitigated by, “raising property taxes and overhauling the city’s affordable housing database”:

“I think sometimes people tend to think the District has changed — there’s more development, household income is trending upwards, they think that issues of poverty are being reduced in that process. And that’s simply not the case,” said Benjamin Orr, the report’s co-author.

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On Sunday, a Washington Post article detailed a housing market in D.C. in which, “One in five renters and one in seven homeowners in the Washington area spend more than half their income on housing”. The figure, taken from the recently published 2009 American Community Survey, highlights that increased housing cost burden is not felt solely by lower-income residents, but by the middle class as well.

The post cites the following figures:

In Fairfax County, more than half the renters with household incomes of $50,000 to $75,000 spent more than 30 percent of their income last year to keep a roof over their heads.

By extension, more than six of 10 homeowners in that income bracket in Prince George’s and Prince William counties also spent too much, and, in the District, more than half did.

In almost every jurisdiction in the Washington area, the share that lower- and middle-income residents dedicated to housing far exceeded the national average.

The post notes that the housing burden felt by many Washington area residents is somewhat obscured by the “the region’s unusually high number of high-income earners” which “skews the statistics, bringing the median near the national norm despite the struggles of so many housing-burdened residents.”.

The housing cost burden is made worse by the affordable housing shortage in the area. According to the post “the stock of low-cost rental apartments has shrunk by more than a third over the past decade, placing the District among the top five cities that experienced the fastest rising rents.” The picture in the surrounding counties looks equally grim. In Fairfax county, local officials estimate they could use 80,000 more affordable units to meet demand. In Montgomery County, “a waiting list for about 500 housing vouchers that become available in a given year has 15,000 names”.

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