The Housing Leaders Group of Greater Washington – a collection of more than a dozen public and private sector leaders concerned about housing affordability – has been meeting since 2014 to examine: 1) the nature of the affordable housing shortage in the Greater Washington region; 2) the relationship of housing affordability to economic growth; and 3) strategies to increase affordable housing for low- and moderate-income households in the region. The co-conveners are the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers, Enterprise Community Partners, Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, the Greater Washington Community Foundation, and Citi Community Development.
A key finding of a 2014 Urban Institute/Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments study concluded that there are 250,000 low- or moderate-income households, including 150,000 rental households, that are severely cost-burdened in the Greater Washington region (paying more than 50% of their gross income on housing costs).
Moreover, 2015 projections from the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University show a need for the region to accommodate projected job growth and demographic changes that will bring an expected 149,000 new low-income households to the region by 2023, working in lower wage jobs in retail, hospitality, healthcare, and construction. The report notes this “…shows a significant increase in the need for low-income housing, especially rental housing.”
The lack of housing affordability is a serious challenge to the region’s quality of life and a deterrent for businesses to locate or grow in the region.
The Housing Leaders Group works to elevate the visibility of, and broaden support for, bold, thoughtful solutions for the housing affordability challenge by engaging multiple regional stakeholders to collaborate in new ways. Targeted sectors include philanthropy, local government, state governments, housing developers, employers and business trade organizations, housing research and policy organizations, as well as social service providers, the faith community, and financial institutions.
Based on our examination of the regional landscape thus far, strategies with the most potential for solving the problem are:
Increasing availability of capital
Updating and innovating land use planning