• Jon Foreman

Affordable Housing in DC - Dispatch from 14th Street Heights

Early this morning, as I walked along 14th street in the 14th Street Heights neighborhood of DC, I was photographing a market when a gentlemen unloading a truck asked:

Are you going to buy that building?

Here's the building:

Here's the gentleman - Gulfrey Clarke:

While I have no intentions of buying, nor the capital, to purchase this building, this led to an interesting conversation with Gulfrey Clarke, a longtime Brookland resident, who shared his views on housing in DC.

In sum:

- Gulfrey says affordable housing for longtime residents is in short-supply

- He has a family of three and notes that, when you and your partner are earning around $10 / hour, most of the housing in DC is unfordable

- Gulfrey lives in a building, in Brookland (Northeast DC), with a longtime owner who offers affordable rents - about $800 / month

- He says comparable apartments go for $1500 / month; impossible to afford with 2 income earners making $10 / hour

Gulfrey notes that the sale of DC commenced about around the administration of Sharon Pratt Kelly in the 1990s and continued more aggressively under other mayors. He notes that while affordable housing is created for new developments, it is not nearly enough, and as a result, it is difficult for longtime DC residents to remain in the city and their neighborhoods.

So what are the potential solutions?

  • Is $15 enough of a minimum wage for families to remain in DC?

  • How can we get more affordable housing in DC and other jurisdictions (Gophrie notes this is a challenge in many cities across the US) so that locals can remain in their neighborhood (among family, friends, the businesses they support and run)?

  • Rent control / stabilization?

  • Universal Guaranteed Income (UGI)?

  • Leave it to the free market?

  • Other solutions?


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