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DC Renters Increasingly Struggle to Cover Housing Costs

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DC Renters Increasingly Struggle to Cover Housing Costs

A rising number of households in Washington, D.C., are spending at least half of their income on rent, making them “severely housing cost burdened”

September 19, 2023
Upper floors of colorful DC townhomes in a city that in increasingly unaffordable
Image: schtreuman / stock.adobe.com

Analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data reveals that an increasing number of renter households in Washington, D.C., are spending more than half of their income on housing costs, DCist reports. During the past year, more than 44,000 households in the city were classified as "severely housing cost burdened," which is up from around 36,000 in 2010. 

This trend highlights the ongoing challenge to provide affordable housing across the D.C. metro area despite efforts to increase apartment development. Rising housing prices, particularly in a city with a median rent of approximately $2,400 for a one-bedroom apartment, have exacerbated that problem, especially for lower-income households.

“The city is literally losing ground in our affordable housing fight,” Andrea Thomas, president of UPO, said in a statement. “The District must do more to create affordable housing for residents struggling the most to pay their rent and care for their families.”

Of the 44,000 households that spent at least half of their income on rent last year, about 40,000 have incomes under $50,000, UPO found. 

“This reflects the fact that D.C.’s efforts to expand affordable housing have not been enough to offset rising housing costs in the private market, [and] also that D.C.’s housing programs are not focused enough on reaching those with the lowest incomes,” the report authors write. 

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