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From Brightwood to Congress Heights, Putting DC Starter Homes (and Affordability) into Context

by Nena Perry-Brown

Last week, UrbanTurf reported on the market for starter homes in the DC area. This week, DC Policy Center (DCPC) released a report that, among other things, delves into how the starter home market looks in DC proper.

For the purposes of the DCPC study, starter homes in DC are defined as containing at least two bedrooms, ranging in size between 1,500-1,800 square feet, and valued at under $560,000, therefore affordable to a family of four earning the area median income (AMI). The report estimates that out of 93,470 single-family homes in the city, only 4,764 could be considered starter homes; if condos and co-ops are included, the number expands to 5,700. 

From Brightwood to Congress Heights, Putting DC Starter Homes (and Affordability) into Context: Figure 1
Map of price per square foot. Click to enlarge.

The majority of affordable starter homes are east of the Anacostia River, where home values hover around $216 per square foot. Fort Lincoln is the only neighborhood west of the River with a median per square foot price less than $250; further west, the lowest medians still rise above $330 a square foot in neighborhoods like Brightwood and Takoma.

From Brightwood to Congress Heights, Putting DC Starter Homes (and Affordability) into Context: Figure 2
Distribution of starter homes based on neighborhood. Click to enlarge.

Just looking at small homes affordable to those earning AMI ($110,300) is an incomplete picture, as 58 percent of households in DC earn less than that amount. For additional context, only 11 percent of DC starter homes (1,821) are affordable to families earning up to 80 percent AMI; just 3 percent (533) are affordable to families earning up to 60 percent AMI.

Additionally, when considering that 16,900 single-family homes fit the square footage and minimum bedroom parameters, those 4,764 "affordable" starter homes only represent 28 percent of that pool. Three-quarters of the affordable starters are found in seven neighborhoods: Brightwood, Brookland, Congress Heights, Deanwood, Hillcrest, Petworth and Woodridge.

DCPC's study notes that one key contributor to the affordability issue is zoning and land use, as more than half of DC's tax assessment neighborhoods are primarily comprised of single-family homes or have land use policies that support only single-family occupancy, placing a premium on living there.

See other articles related to: starter homes

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/putting-dc-starter-homes-and-affordability-into-context/13757

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