DC Releases Findings on Need for Family-Sized Residential Units

by Nena Perry-Brown

A new study released today shines a light on DC's need for more family-sized housing.

The Coalition for Non-Profit Housing and Economic Development and Urban Institute authored a report, commissioned by DC's Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, taking stock of the city's inventory of family-sized units and what can be done to course-correct. While many of the findings corroborate what the DC Policy Center found last year elucidating the mismatched housing market, some other interesting findings and recommendations also emerged. 

  • Of the approximately 307,000 housing units in DC, a third have three or more bedrooms. More specifically, 20 percent of the city's housing stock has three bedrooms, 9 percent has four bedrooms, and 4 percent has five or more bedrooms. Only 12.7 percent of the family-sized single-family homes and condos sold in 2017 were affordable to a household of four earning up to $88,000.
Distribution of housing units by ward. Click to enlarge.
  • Family-sized units are distributed unevenly throughout the city and are most prevalent in Wards 3, 4 and 5. Wards 1 and 2 have the least family-sized units, with fewer than 9,000 each.
  • More than 11,600 "large" households are renting and earn less than 50 percent of area median income (AMI). 75 percent of these households are cost-burdened and more than a third are under-housed, with more than one person living in each bedroom. There are roughly 6,500 households which need units renting for $750 per month (affordable to a four-person household earning up to 30 percent AMI), but only 4,000 of these units exist. 
Distribution of family-sized units by ward. Click to enlarge.
  • The number of units with three or more bedrooms has increased by 14 percent since 2000, even as households with four or more people has fallen by two percent. This is because groups of unrelated adults now account for 16 percent of large renter households in the city, compared to 8 percent in 2000. Also, 79 percent of owner-occupied households and one-third of one- and two-person households are over-housed, living in units with two or more bedrooms with one or fewer residents per bedroom.

The report also explores some of the reasons why affordable family-sized units are less prevalent, along with some recommendations for how DC can create and preserve more family-sized units. 

  • Because larger units tend to command less revenue in rental developments due to lower per-square foot rents, development subsidies should be provided which make those per-square foot returns more equitable.
  • DC could also incentivize larger units by exchanging them for additional density.
  • DC is expected to have 4,000-5,700 additional large households earning up to 50 percent AMI by 2045. As the city plans to create 36,000 additional housing units in the next six years, there should be a target number of affordable family-sized units as part of this goal.
  • The metrics the city uses to evaluate RFPs should be corrected, as they currently disincentivize creation and preservation of larger units. Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act provisions are also integral to preserving larger units.

UrbanTurf will continue to keep an eye on how the city uses this new data moving forward.

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/dc-releases-findings-on-the-need-for-family-sized-units/15585

DC Real Estate Guides

Short guides to navigating the DC-area real estate market

We've collected all our helpful guides for buying, selling and renting in and around Washington, DC in one place. Visit guides.urbanturf.com or start browsing below!

Northern Virginia

Profiles of 14 neighborhoods across Northern Virginia

Looking to Give People A Reason to Stay Past 6pm
Happily Straddling the Line Between City and Suburb
Columbia Pike
Arlington’s Neglected Stepchild is Getting a Makeover
Crystal City
Turning Lemons into Lemonade
Lyon Village
Developing An Air of Exclusivity?
Hitting Its Growth Spurt
An Urban Village Hitting Its Stride
Del Ray
Virginia’s Small Town Near the Big City
Eisenhower Avenue
The Vibrancy Might Take a Few Years
The Quiet Neighborhood By the Beltway
Old Town
Mayberry By The Potomac
132 Commerical-Free Acres
Downtown Falls Church
Staying the Same in the Midst of Change
Tysons Corner
Radical Change Could Be On The Way

See more Northern Virginia »


Profiles of 14 neighborhoods in suburban Maryland

Small-Town Living in the State Capital
Bedroom Community Gets Buzzing Cache
Cabin John
In With The New While Maintaining the Old
Chevy Chase
Affluence, Green Lawns and Pricey Homes
Downtown Silver Spring
Experiencing a Resurgence After a Bumpy History
A Suburb on Steroids
Rockville Town Square
Despite the Dynamism, Still Somewhat Generic
Takoma Park
More Than a Little Bit Quirky
A Foodie Magnet on the Verge of Change
Capitol Heights
Kudzu, Front Porches and Crime
Glass Half Full or Half Empty?
Mount Rainier
Artists, Affordable Homes and A Silo Full of Corn
National Harbor
A Development Rises Next to the Potomac
Riverdale Park
A Town Looking For Its Identity

See more Maryland »

Northwest DC

30+ neighborhood profiles for the city's biggest quadrant

16th Street Heights
DC's Sleeper Neighborhood
Where (Almost) Everyone Knows Your Name
AU Park
One of DC’s Last Frontiers Before the Suburbs
DC’s Northern Neighborhood on the Cusp
DC’s 535 House Neighborhood
Cathedral Heights
Do You Know Where That Is?
Chevy Chase DC
Not to Be Confused With the Other Chevy Chase
Cleveland Park
Coming Back After A Rough Year
Columbia Heights
DC’s Most Diverse Neighborhood, But For How Long?
An Island of Serenity East of the Park
Dupont Circle
The Best of DC (For a Price)
Foggy Bottom & West End
Where the Institutional Meets the International
Forest Hills
Ambassadors and Adventurous Architecture
Foxhall Village
350 Homes Just West of Georgetown
Friendship Heights
A Shopping Mecca With a Few Places to Live
History, Hoyas and H&M
Glover Park
One of DC’s Preppier and More Family-Friendly Neighborhoods
A Posh View From Embassy Row
LeDroit Park
A Quiet Enclave in the Middle of the City
Logan Circle
Trendy Now, But Not By Accident
Mount Pleasant
Sought-After Homes Surround Main Street in Transition
Mount Vernon Triangle
From Seedy to Sought-After
The Long, Skinny Neighborhood at the City’s Northwest Edge
Park View
It’s Not Petworth
Penn Quarter/Chinatown
DC’s Go-Go-Go Neighborhood
Getting a Vibrancy of Its Own
The Duke’s Former Stomping Ground
Shepherd Park
DC’s Garden of Diversity
Spring Valley
A Suburb With a DC Zip Code
Not To Be Confused With Takoma Park
Not Quite Like Its Neighbors
U Street Corridor
The Difference a Decade Makes
Woodley Park
Deceptively Residential
Adams Morgan
No Longer DC’s Hippest Neighborhood, But Still Loved by Residents

See more Northwest DC »

Southwest DC

The little quadrant that could

Southwest Waterfront
A Neighborhood Where A Change Is Gonna Come

See more Southwest DC »

Northeast DC

Profiles of 10 neighborhoods in NE

New Development Could Shake Up Pastoral Peace
A Little Bit of Country Just Inside the District’s Borders
Not to Be Confused With Bloomingdale
Fort Totten
Five Years Could Make a Big Difference
H Street
A Place To Party, and To Settle Down
The Northeast Neighborhood That Few Know About
Michigan Park
A Newsletter-On-Your-Doorstep Community
Evolving from a Brand to a Neighborhood
Ripe for Investment Right About Now
The Difference 5 Years Makes
Big Houses, A Dusty Commercial Strip and Potential

See more Northeast DC »

Southeast DC

6 neighborhoods from Capitol Hill to East of the River

Capitol Riverfront
Still Growing
Hill East
Capitol Hill’s Lesser Known Neighbor
Congress Heights
Gradually Rising
Notable for Its Neighborliness
Historic Anacostia
Future Promise Breeds Cautious Optimism
Eastern Market
A More European Way of Living

See more Southeast DC »