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New Study Provides Key DC Rental Housing Data to Drive Sound Policy

Posted By: Peggy Jeffers, Esq. News ,

Washington, D.C. – Recognizing that the ongoing housing policy debate lacked current, comprehensive data about the District’s rental housing stock, the Apartment and Office Building Association of Metropolitan Washington (AOBA) supported the D.C. Policy Center’s efforts to produce a survey and analysis, “Appraising the District’s Rentals,” released this week as a resource for policy leaders.

This report provides data on the estimated number and type of rental units, including the significant number of shadow rental market units (such as those in private home and other non-commercially managed ones), where they are located, and the prevailing rents.

The study also provides a comprehensive picture of the District’s rental housing to evaluate its capacity to create economically inclusive neighborhoods.

The research and analysis led to the creative concept of Inclusionary Conversion, which would convert a portion of existing rent-controlled units into affordable units in every part of the city with targeted affordability covenants, operating in the same way as Inclusionary Zoning.

With the current COVID-19 pandemic, The D.C. Policy Center notes, “We think that this report can provide important information that could help with the difficult choices District policymakers must make in the next few months and as recovery begins.”

While supporting the call to increase much-needed housing supply, AOBA and its members continue to stress the critical need to preserve the housing we already have, particularly in D.C., where land costs are exorbitant. This study speaks to that reality. It also documents the wide egalitarian distribution of rent controlled units across all wards of the District. “While the idea of an Inclusionary Conversion model was an unexpected outcome of the study, we are intrigued by its potential to leverage precious resources in a more equitable and inclusionary way and look forward to exploring it further with all housing stakeholders,” said AOBA Executive Vice President Peggy Jeffers.

The study also points out: “Because rent control lacks income targeting, it does not automatically translate into lower housing burdens for lower-income households.” It also supports previous findings showing that “rent control, by design, limits operating incomes, which in turn, depresses the value of apartment buildings under rent control.” AOBA cautions policy leaders against adopting policies that do little to increase affordability for those who need it most, or policies that will further depress values thereby leading to significant declines in the property taxes on which the District depends.

 

AOBA has served as a resource for policymakers throughout the DMV region for more than 45 years. “We believe that sound data and extensive analysis are fundamental to smart policy formation,” said Jeffers. “The D.C. Policy Center’s commitment to ‘advancing objective, quality data’ made them uniquely qualified to take on this challenging study.”

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