I get semi-shocked by the amount rents are for the luxury apartments and houses in NW and the plain jane apartments in random parts of non-NW DC that happen to be near a metro. Part of that reason is I'm a homeowner with a fixed mortgage, the only thing I have to concern myself with are taxes. However the benefits of home ownership don't really make their greatest impact until you lived in the same dang spot for several years; after the cost of living has surpassed your fixed rate amount. Even after the big renovation that took my lovely $600 mortgage for a pile of crumbly bricks to the land of $1500 for a nicer house that still has mouse issues, it is still lower than what the local rent is in this neighborhood. If I were to start all over again, it would probably take 5 or 10 years before I got to the land of where the mortgage and maintenance costs became lower than the rents.
Is the rent too damned high? It's high, but if someone is willing to pay them, even if it is half of their take home, even with a roommate, apparently not. If people would refuse to pay those prices, then the rents would go down. When I rented out my extra room, I just made up prices trying to figure out what would the market bear. I'd put something out on Craigslist and if real people (not bots or scammers) failed to respond, then I'd lower the price until I got enough inquiries.
The problem is not enough space, and too many people who are willing to spend a lot on rent. Until the market is flooded with housing options, or people decide they'd rather live in PG or NoVa than DC if the rent is too high, then the rent will be what it is.