Tag: DC

Making Workforce Housing Work for D.C.

Making Workforce Housing Work for D.C.

Making Workforce Housing Work: Understanding Housing Needs for D.C.’s Changing Workforce

D.C.’s workforce is growing and changing. After years of decline, the city is now a leading jurisdiction in population and job growth.  Increasingly, more people working in D.C. want to live in D.C., though the city still has a net influx of commuters to fill jobs each workday. This growth dynamic offers the District new opportunities, but also continued housing affordability challenges that must be addressed strategically to make the lives of working households better, and foster a healthy economy.  D.C. can and should affordably house more of its workforce.  To accomplish this, the District must deploy two broad strategies:

  • Make the housing market work better by changing land use policies to provide the housing supply necessary to keep pace with demand from working households who could pay for housing if it were more available and less costly.
  • Use subsidies and a full set of public policy tools to bridge the remaining gap where housing costs are too high and wages too low. The District should dramatically increase funding for the Local Rent Supplement Program and Housing Production Trust Fund. It should also leverage Inclusionary Zoning, Planned Unit Developments and other zoning tools to produce more housing that is affordable. These investments and policy tools must make homes affordable for workers who are filling common occupations but face severe housing cost burdens. This essential part of the workforce earns half or less of the region’s median household income.

This paper focuses on the latter issue: specifically, the need to target public resources and policies to addressing the needs of the large share of the workforce that earns 50 percent or less of area median income. These workers represent 8 of the 20 most common occupations in the District of Columbia, and 5 of those 8 occupations pay wages that amount to 30 percent or less of area median income.

View full report at: Making Workforce Housing Work

Here’s what people want in a new Metro GM

The Metro board’s governance committee is receiving a report Thursday on what government and community leaders, along with riders and other interested parties, had to say about the type of general manager they want the transit authority to pick. The public picked up on the split among the board members over whether Metro needs a transit expert or a management turnaround specialist. These are excerpts from some of the statements presented to the board.

An affordable housing crisis with no end in sight

nclusionary Zoning battled a lot of developments that were grandfathered in before the law went into effect, said Cheryl Cort, policy director for the Coalition for Smarter Growth. And much of the program’s focus has been on rentals, as it will remain until the building market falls under these new regulations. So far, they have 48 units rented under Inclusionary Zoning rules — or a dismal eight rentals a year.

D.C. group launches email campaign to save H Street streetcar

“We want to be sure we’re doing what we can to look out for the mobility needs of D.C. residents,” he said. D.C. residents can express their frustration in an email to Bowser sent through the organization’s website. “I believe that the streetcar can be a prominent part of a larger transit investment strategy — with the right modes selected for the right corridors,” the email says.

Save the H Street streetcar, ANC 6A tells Mayor Bowser

An ANC that covers the H Street NE corridor is urging Mayor Muriel Bowser to get the streetcar up and running and expand the system to avoid creating a “useless” service. ANC 6A unanimously voted last night to send a letter to Bowser asking her to save the project. Killing the project would undercut development along H Street, the ANC said.

Is D.C. in too deep to kill the H Street streetcar?

As the H Street streetcar meets its possible end by the end of this month, various news outlets, organizations, and businesses have confessed their own feelings on one question: to kill or not to kill the streetcar? While controversy has circled around the project since the very beginning, there are still many who hope for the development to come to fruition.

Letter to DC Zoning Commission opposing downzoning to prevent popups

RE: Opinion on Case No. 14-11 (Office of Planning–Text Amendments to Chapters 1 & 4: Definition of Mezzanine and R-4 Zones) CSG agrees with the intent of the Office of Planning’s (OP) proposed amendment to ensure compatibility of new development with existing development in R-4 neighborhoods. However, upon review of the proposal we believe that certain modifications would help to better align the amendment with this intent. Further, in a time when strong demand to live in the city is leasing to increased housing prices, we are
concerned that this proposal could have the adverse effect of constricting housing…

RELEASE: DC housing advocates call on Mayor Bowser to start tenure with important move to increase affordable housing

EMBARGOED until 9:00AM
January 7, 2015

Contact: Cheryl Cort, Coalition for Smarter Growth
O 202-676-0016 x 122
M 202-251-7516

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, DC housing advocates called on Mayor Muriel Bowser and the DC Zoning Commission to strengthen Inclusionary Zoning, an affordable housing program that requires lower priced units to be produced as a part of most new developments.

The groups released a letter (PDF) calling for lowering income targeting to better serve low and moderate income households who are priced out of DC’s ever more expensive housing market. The groups noted that a strong Inclusionary Zoning (IZ) program is an important part of a robust set of tools to address DC’s growing affordable housing crisis. Among the organizations calling for improving DC’s IZ program are: Coalition for Smarter Growth, Metropolitan Washington Council AFL-CIO, DC Fiscal Policy Institute, Jews United for Justice, City First Homes, PolicyLink and Somerset Development.

“This policy has great potential to help address the needs of working people who are priced out of the District of Columbia. Now is the time to strengthen Inclusionary Zoning to ensure it is a more effective tool to make living in DC within reach for moderate and low income workers,” said Joslyn Williams, president of the Metropolitan Washington Council, AFL-CIO.

After years of delay, the housing program is beginning to produce hundreds of units. Given that DC is even less affordable than it was when the policy was established in 2006, the housing activists urged the Zoning Commission to revise the policy to ensure that it is meeting the city’s growing need for more affordable housing.

For more than a year, the Zoning Commission and the Mayor Gray administration had expressed their intent to revise the policy, but have delayed any action. The groups urged the city to act now, citing the recent report by the Urban Institute reviewing the DC IZ program performance to date, and its recommendations for improvements.

“DC’s Inclusionary Zoning affordable housing program is fundamentally sound but needs to be strengthened. Most importantly, we need to create more homes at lower income levels through this policy to better meet the needs of city residents facing the greatest housing challenges,” said Cheryl Cort, Policy Director for the Coalition for Smarter Growth, and a founding member of the Campaign for Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning, the group that won the original policy in 2006.

In a letter submitted to the Zoning Commission and Mayor Bowser, the advocates asked that the Zoning Commission act to strengthen the Inclusionary Zoning program to ensure it can best achieve its goal to create a mix of low and moderate income affordable housing throughout the District.  Citing a continued strong housing market, rising prices, and stagnant and falling incomes, the group asked for several changes to the current policy. These proposed changes include: lowering the income limits for moderate income IZ units, increasing the share of low income units produced, increasing the total percentage of IZ units required, and ensuring bonus density is available to provide compensation for the cost of the affordable units.

“DC’s Inclusionary Zoning program is on the right track, but needs to be improved to ensure we are reaching those who most need the help,” said Jacob Feinspan, Executive Director, Jews United for Justice.

The letter submitted to the DC Zoning Commission and Mayor Bowser, was signed by:

Cheryl Cort, Coalition for Smarter Growth
Joslyn N. Williams, President, Metropolitan Washington Council, AFL-CIO
Ed Lazere, DC Fiscal Policy Institute
Jacob Feinspan, Jews United for Justice
Angie Rodgers, People’s Consulting
Jim Steck, City First Homes
Jim Campbell, Somerset Development
Tad Baldwin, retired housing developer
Kalima Rose, PolicyLink

About the Coalition for Smarter Growth

The Coalition for Smarter Growth is the leading organization in the Washington DC region dedicated to making the case for smart growth. Its mission is to promote walkable, inclusive, and transit-oriented communities, and the land use and transportation policies and investments needed to make those communities flourish. Learn more at smartergrowth.net.



Letter to the Editor: Inclusionary zoning is working for renters

While the program needs to be strengthened, inclusionary zoning is showing benefits. Moderately priced housing units are being integrated into nearly every new residential development. That means desirable neighborhoods such as Chevy Chase, Dupont Circle, 14th and U, and NoMa will be affordable for more people.

Inclusionary zoning is a work in progress, but it’s already delivering on its promise to make exclusive and rapidly changing neighborhoods more accessible for working-class and middle-class residents.