Gentrification and housing

Because of this blog, I get asked about gentrification. I’m not a public policy wonk, or a student of urban planning, or an activist, but I am a citizen with an opinion on the topic. One question is if affordable housing will disappear because of gentrification? Um, short of Mothra coming in a flattening 3/4ths of the hood, no.
The reason why is just off the top of my head there are a couple of public housing units (see here), the co-ops and other apartment buildings that are not market rate on 7th, 6th, 5th, and 1st Streets, that have sizable footprints and surface parking lots (see the DC Real Property Map). Some are owned by churches, which doesn’t really mean anything, because a church owns (in full or part, not sure) Kelsey Gardens. But as long as the churches see it as part of their mission to provide affordable housing (with the help of being tax exempt) those housing units should be fine. So the cry that there is no affordable housing or that affordable or low income housing will disappear in Shaw, doesn’t ring true in my ears.
I do acknowledge that among privately rented townhouses and small 4-6 unit apartment buildings there is a danger. However if a landlord decides to sell his townhouse to someone who will more than likely want to live in the unit and be a resident homeowner, I think the neighborhood is better off because it stabilizes the community.
Anyway I started writing this to point out a function going on this weekend. Shiloh Baptist Church this weekend is putting on a Gentrification meeting/ forum whathave you reported here and here, and probably a few other spots. It’s this Saturday between 1-4pm at 1510 9th St. And to touch on OneDC’s rally for their favorite bidder for Parcel 42, but I’ll get to that later.

3 thoughts on “Gentrification and housing”

  1. One of the definitions of affordable housing — to own or rent at any income level — is that with utilities it consumes no more than 30% of one’s income. By this calculation, an entry-level professional making $36k and having no debts could “afford” $1000/mo. rent. However, this amount could still be half of his take-home pay — one root canal or other emergency away from spending his entire month’s take home pay.

    The median rent in the metro area for class B housing, “not the best buildings, but functional and decently maintained and managed, according to building cost data company Marshall & Swift,” (quoted in a Forbes article) is $14.34/sq. ft. So, our entry-level professional could afford about 70 sq. ft. at the median rental price. (BTW, parts of lower-priced suburbs in MD, VA, and WV are included in this caculation (

    According to Habitat for Humanity, in 2004 44% of households at ANY income level “had inordinate housing cost burdens.” (
    Even the rising housing prices had not yet increased demand for and pricing of rental units to the levels we see today.

    With supply dwindling and the conversion of so many units to “luxury” apartments in recent years, I think that you would be hard-pressed to find an available roach-infested apartment at a reasonable rate. Even the GAO thinks that the entire US is in an affordable housing crisis. I have to think that DC, as one of the most expensive markets, certainly falls within that category.

  2. I’ve typically always had roommates. Knowing that housing would be a major expense I’ve always made the effort to find something affordable so that included roommate situations, group house situations, and living with family. Your own private space is nice but sharing a kitchen and a bathroom won’t kill you.
    The problem is location. There is a whole nother part of the city people besides NW, and it is probably a heck of a lot more affordable than the hip or established parts. They are not all roach infested, but I guess that’s part of the story….

  3. Sorry Oliva/Joyce but the first time you posted I was willing to give you the bennie of the doubt but seeing the 2nd post, I see you’re a spammer. Delete.

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