The issue of affordable housing in D.C. is not going away. In fact, the lack of affordable housing, which many have argued only impacted the city’s low income and poor people, is now impacting all working-class people in D.C. and the surrounding region.
A report released this week by Apartment List shows that apartment rents in DC have increased 0.1 percent for a median two-bedroom unit in the past year and that there have been consecutive increases in rent over the past five months. The report specifically states, “Median rent prices here prove to be less affordable than comparable cities nationwide — D.C.’s median two-bedroom rent of $1,540 is above the national average of $1,150.”
Even more stark is a study reported this month in DCist by the National Low Income Housing Coalition that showed a resident looking to rent a two-bedroom home in the District will need to bring home $69,840 a year, an increase of nearly $5,000 more than what they needed last year. Undoubtedly, housing in D.C. for working-class people has become out of reach for most. And in the 2017 report by the NLIHC bearing the same name, “Out of Reach,” an average two-bedroom rental unit in D.C. is $1,746, higher than previously indicated. In order to afford this level of rent and utilities, without paying more than 30 percent of income on housing, a household must bring in $5,820 per month. Assuming they work an average of 40 yours a week, for 52 weeks a year, that translates to $33.58 an hour.
D.C.’s mayor and city officials must be commended for raising the minimum wage from $10.50 to $12.50 effective Saturday, July 1, but according to the NLIHC report, a minimum wage worker would have to work 107 hours per week or work 2.7 full-time jobs in order to afford a two-bedroom rental at the average price.
It is beyond time for the City Council and the mayor to step in and say, “Enough is enough!” Too much talk and not enough action is going into saving affordable housing in D.C.