10,000 Affordable Units by 2020: DC’s New Housing Strategy

by Shilpi Paul

10,000 Affordable Units by 2020: DC's New Housing Strategy: Figure 1
From Bridges to Opportunity.

In his State of the District speech last month, Mayor Vincent Gray lamented the lack of affordable housing in the city. “We once worried about the District becoming a city of ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots,’” said Gray. “But now we are increasingly in danger of becoming a city of only ‘haves’.”

Now, he is taking action.

This morning, Mayor Gray released a new housing strategy for the city, created by the Comprehensive Housing Strategy Task Force, reported Housing Complex.

The 48-page report — Bridges to Opportunity: A New Housing Strategy for DC — echoes Gray’s concerns:

[There is] the risk that the District will become a place where only those at the lowest incomes (who have subsidies) and those at the highest incomes can afford to live—sending many working and middle-class households out of the District.

The plan pledged, among other things, to create 10,000 new affordable units by 2020, known as “10×20”. Here are a few other interesting highlights from the report:

  • DC lost more than half its low-cost rental units in the past decade. The number of units that cost less than $750 per month fell from 70,600 to 34,500.
  • The average rent for a unit in DC is $2,054 per month, and the average price of a home is $552,000. The median price in $439,000.
  • Until 2020, the city will use subsidies to preserve 8,000 existing affordable units.
  • The city will support the production of 3,000 market rate housing units annually, also through 2020.
  • Resources towards the Housing Production Trust Fund, which is currently dwindling, and other existing housing programs will be significantly increased.
  • A new program, The Housing Innovation Fund, will be created with the intention of financing “shovel ready” affordable projects, including the 10×20 goal.
  • The permitting process for affordable and market-rate housing projects will be streamlined, and a one-stop website for affordable housing finance information will be created.

Last month, Gray also announced that the city would be pledging $100 million towards affordable housing, an amount that will surely help these programs get off the ground. Take a look at the full report here, courtesy of Housing Complex.

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This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/10000_affordable_units_by_2020_mayor_gray_releases_new_housing_strategy/6777


  1. J said at 2:07 pm on Wednesday March 13, 2013:
    Is it fair that people get a discount to live where I pay a premium? I think affordable housing is unfair. Myself and thousands of other people pay a premium to live in DC and to get the lifestyle that we pay for. Why should others be able to get the same lifestyle but not pay the market price? If you can't afford to live somewhere then you should have to live somewhere else. Thats how the market works. Is there "affordable" housing on Nantucket? Probably not... for good reason... you get what you can pay for...
  1. M said at 2:57 pm on Wednesday March 13, 2013:
    J, The problem is area wide, not just in the city. Even traveling out towards Leesburg, rentals are up over $1000. I agree that people should pay the market rate, but the truth of it is that there is not enough inventory for the market to be affordable. Increasing inventory, and focusing the new inventory on lower-end instead of 'luxury' units seems like a good beginning to me.
  1. Ali said at 3:15 pm on Wednesday March 13, 2013:
    mixed income housing and/or lower income housing is definitely needed, however needs to be planned better. Mixed income seems to work at the macro level, however people are apprehensive the moment they have lower income residents living close to them. Unfortunately its our mentality we have to get over. Why do we need affordable housing? because without these, you won't have teachers, police-officers, daycare workers, restaurant workers, nanny's, maids, plumbers, construction workers etc etc etc living close by. That means they'll be commuting from farther away, increasing their commuting costs, which will drive them further into poverty, or cost raises for all the services they provide and then the people who utilize the services will complain about costs going through the roof.. Its simple economics. Either start increasing all these salaries to a significant level where they can afford to live in 'market' price homes, or afford to commute from further out, or provide them affordable housing.
  1. JoeEsq74 said at 3:17 pm on Wednesday March 13, 2013:
    I think DC (residents) can subsidize some housing or expect to pay higher prices for services. The cost of ‘good’ labor goes up with longer employee commutes and those costs will be passed on to consumers. Additionally, I want DC teachers, cops, librarians etc. to live close by and I want them invested in the communities they serve. I don’t want EMTs on duty who are not sharp because they are pulling two double shifts so they don’t have to commute from Calvert County 2 extra times a week. When some people see subsidized housing they may see free rides, but often private developers are allowed to build with greater density if they include workforce housing. I live in a new community in DC with market rate and workforce housing, I am OK with it. DC has this whole new revenue source from traffic cameras, put allocate of that ‘dough’ to affordable housing.
  1. Rolly said at 3:54 pm on Wednesday March 13, 2013:
    I bet this affordable housing doesn't get put in Georgetown or Chevy Chase
  1. Jolly said at 9:10 pm on Wednesday March 13, 2013:
    There is a good reason why affordable housing isn't being put in G-town or Chevy Chase. Well a few good reasons. (1) There isn't a lot of development happening there, esp compared to other neighborhoods like Noma , Shaw, Ballpark. (2) Like Joe mentioned, developers often get an incentive to put lower income units in their buildings, they get to build bigger / more densely. This doesn't work in communities where they FIGHT DENSITY, because they've taken away the incentive. (3) It's actually a very inefficient use of both our tax dollars to subsidize a $4,000 apt in G-town vs a $2,000 apt on Georgia Ave. If they're going to take my money and use it for this, I would at least like them to stretch the dollars to benefit more people.
  1. adriana said at 9:27 pm on Wednesday March 13, 2013:
    I'm sure DC residents already subsidize the housing of plenty of residents in DC, among many other things they subsidize. Personally, I would prefer the cost of goods and/or services to go up rather than favor any class of people. At least, in that case, I can control where my money is going - and hopefully they go to to working people. But that's just me.
  1. JoeEsq74 said at 3:22 pm on Thursday March 14, 2013:
    I cannot comment on existing subsidized programs. The program in my development is a subsidized purchase program. I know there are subsidized rental programs as well (some are geared toward artists, seniors etc) There are income limitations in the purchase program but the people still have to qualify for a mortgage so these are working people. I support the programs but not without reservation. While visiting the sales office I actually heard a couple say they were going to try and qualify for a workforce unit while one was still a full-time grad student, before their income grew. For me the goal is to have cops, teachers etc in the units not people trying to do an ‘end around.’ Programs like this have to be carefully administered. I favor DC offering the subsidy and private sector creating the units and maybe a reputable non-profit carefully managing how the units are leased / sold.
  1. JoeEsq said at 3:26 pm on Thursday March 14, 2013:
    Random...I appreciate the civility on this blog.
  1. Tash said at 8:54 pm on Saturday April 6, 2013:
    Ali had it correctly. I grew up in DC, and being a single mom, child in college, and I can't even live in the city I was raised in because I don't fit into a certain income bracket. I'm 35,000 a year and can't find anything.
  1. Denise Richards said at 6:35 pm on Thursday February 20, 2014:
    How would a family in need of housing immediately get help finding housing on this program?
  1. SB said at 2:51 am on Monday March 24, 2014:
    I agree 100% with J

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