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Mayor Bowser Releases Study on the Inventory and Affordability of Housing for Families as Part of Her Goal to Create 36,000 New Homes by 2025

Tuesday, June 25, 2019
Findings and recommendations of District family-size unit study will inform efforts to produce more equitable housing for families across the District

(WASHINGTON, DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser and the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) issued An Assessment of the Need for Large Units in the District of Columbia, a study of the inventory and demand for family rental housing units in the District of Columbia.

“The good news is that the District has a lot of family-sized units, but we must work to make more of them available to working households across the city,” said Mayor Bowser. “We are committed to helping families stay and thrive in the District, and the findings from this study will help guide my Administration’s efforts to ensure family-sized units are more equitably distributed and affordable.”

The study found that DC is home to 38,800 “large” households – meaning households made up of four or more people. More than half of large households rent their housing, and have incomes less than 50% of the median family income (MFI). One-third of DC’s housing stock are family-sized units and, while there is a significant supply of family-sized units, there is a shortage of family-sized units affordable to families at very low-income levels. In this study, “family-sized units” refers to housing with three or more bedrooms.

To complete the study, DMPED contracted with the Coalition for Nonprofit Housing and Economic Development (CNHED) in partnership with the Urban Institute to conduct the assessment of family-sized units. The study was developed per a request of Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, chairman of the Committee on Business and Economic Development, to assess the inventory of family-sized units in the District.

“There has been a growing concern about the lack of affordable housing for larger families in DC, which is why I prioritized funding this study – so we have the data to make informed policy decisions,” said Councilmember McDuffie. “I thank Mayor Bowser, the Office of the Deputy Mayor of Planning and Economic Development, CNHED, and the Urban Institute for their work on this important report. As the Council is in the midst of its work to update the District’s Comprehensive Plan, we must use this study and other data as tools to address the lack of all sizes of affordable housing, including family-sized units, and to promote racial equity, social justice, and economic inclusion for all residents of the District.”

In addition to publishing the study, DMPED is launching the DC Housing Data Blog to build a stronger shared understanding of housing data in the District. The blog will provide analysis on housing in the District, as well as on the many factors that influence housing, such as employment, the economy, and business development. The blog’s first post breaks down the Affordable Family-Sized Unit Study and future posts will explore housing data, and the relationship between employment, the economy, and housing in DC.

“In May, Mayor Bowser signed an order on housing directing District agencies to identify new policies, tools, and initiatives to begin fulfilling her bold goal of creating 36,000 new housing units, 12,000 of them affordable, by 2025,” said Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development Brian Kenner. “This study is an important guide for informing how we use every tool in our toolkit to accelerate the development and retention of affordable housing, and we will need to find new ways of creating and protecting affordable housing for larger families.”

DMPED also conducted a survey of residents' housing and moving experiences to gain an improved understanding of people's attitudes toward their current housing, the reasons that motivate them to move, and their desired housing characteristics. The results of the survey can be found here.

“The District's supply of family-sized rental units affordable to low-income households falls far short of the need,” said Steve Glaude, President & CEO of CNHED. “This study provides valuable recommendations for setting family-sized affordable housing production and preservation goals and using new and existing tools to meet them.”

“Families in the District have to compete against single adults and groups of adults, who may have higher incomes, for a limited supply of family-sized units,” said Peter Tatian, a senior fellow at Urban Institute and one of the study’s authors. “This study sheds light on the need to increase the availability of affordable, larger units so that the District will continue to be a place that is welcoming for families.”

To view the full study, follow this link.