Four years, $13 million and dozens of hands: how ‘affordable housing’ gets made in America

Market Watch, May 23, 2019: Four years, $13 million and dozens of hands: how ‘affordable housing’ gets made in America

The story of the tenants of 410 Cedar St. isn’t just the story of one Washington, D.C., building; it’s the story of how America creates “affordable housing” — and why it’s so incredibly hard. Washington, D.C., a planned city from inception, is unique in many ways. In particular, it has made a strong public commitment to helping its residents access housing that’s affordable, and providing tools that support tenants.

However, the gentrification experienced in the nation’s capital in recent years has been among the most intense in the U.S., in its case resulting in the displacement of mostly African American residents from low-income neighborhoods, according to a recent study from the National Community Reinvestment Coalition. “While gentrification increases the value of properties in areas that suffered from prolonged disinvestment, it also results in rising rents, home and property values,” the NCRC noted. “As these rising costs reduce the supply of affordable housing, existing residents, who are often black or Hispanic, are displaced. This prevents them from benefiting from the economic growth and greater availability of services that come with increased investment.”

 

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