374,000: the path to an equitable Capital Region

We need 374,000 housing units by 2030 - are we on track?

We’ve made some progress….but we have a long way to go.

HAND’s Housing Indicator Tool (HIT), is a platform to track local efforts to produce affordable rental housing in the Washington Region. A 2019 Urban Institute report demonstrated a severe shortage of housing affordable to households with low incomes and called for the production of 374,000 net new housing units between 2015 and 2030 to accommodate expected growth. To adequately address our region’s affordable housing crisis, more than half of these new units need to be affordable to households with incomes at 80% of area median or below. Annually, the region must produce about 25,000 new units, 14,000 of which should be affordable to households with low and moderate incomes. The HIT tracks housing production by jurisdiction to monitor progress on these targets and prompt collective action as we work together to solve our region’s housing crisis.

The 2022 release of the tool places income and racial inequity at the center of the housing conversation, as we know that households with low and moderate incomes and persons of color have been most affected by rapidly rising housing costs in our region. As you navigate through the tool, you will be confronted with the realities of housing insecurity and instability that so many face in our region as housing prices rise and incomes remain flat. You will also be confronted with the present-day impacts of discriminatory public policy decisions and private practices - including exclusionary land use policies - on our communities; from growing wealth gaps for Black and Latinx households, to disparities in educational attainment, to lack of access to quality healthcare and food options in disinvested neighborhoods.

Regional problems require regional solutions. The dashboards included in the HIT are just the beginning. Equipped with the knowledge of where we stand in each jurisdiction, we can effectively pivot to best meet the needs for more housing supply and a more equitable region. We must acknowledge that there is a vested interest in doing more of the same. The very fabric of our society is woven with policies and programs that are intended to maintain the status quo – benefiting a few at the expense of others. To obtain different results and truly solve for the need, we must back our commitments to these housing targets with the appropriate resources and changes to the policies that we know are barriers to achieving those goals.

How did we get here?
Brick … by brick

White households in the DC metro area have a net worth 81 times greater than Black households. In 2013 and 2014, the typical White household had a net worth of $284,000. Black American households, in contrast, had a net worth of $3,500.”

- The Color of Wealth in the Nation’s Capital, Urban Institute, 2016

Dating as far back as slavery, we have operated under a system that was rooted in an ideology that Black, indigenous, and people of color were inferior to other races. Over hundreds of years, this structure has permeated our very way of life – from our education system to where we worship and even housing.

Redlining, racialized zoning and covenants, subprime mortgages, and disinvestment in black and brown communities are just a few of the ways in which this system has created barriers to opportunity over the course of decades. No matter how overt or subtle, this discrimination has always been designed to secure the dominance of some, and extract social and economic value from others.

The tool now includes charts that illustrate the effects of structural racism, showing inequitable outcomes in income and housing. This pattern of systemic racism coupled with the ongoing housing affordability challenge in the Capital Region will require an all-hands-on-deck strategy to start carving a path that allows for communities of color to realize a way forward towards real opportunities.

Who can afford to live in the region?

In order to better understand how rising housing costs affect our neighbor’s ability to live in this region, the interactive tool below illustrates how people of different races, occupations, and incomes are affected. Please click on an individual card to learn more about each person. As you move the slider to the right, monthly housing costs increase and you will notice some faces disappear and are labeled as “housing insecure.” These households have housing costs that exceed 30% of their monthly income and are more vulnerable to homelessness and economic shocks.

We need a region that produces enough housing for people of all incomes and occupations - especially our essential workers. We hope you will gain a deeper understanding for who is the “face” of affordable housing and the scale at which our housing crisis impacts individuals and families throughout the region.

Note: Though the characteristics of each individual are generated from data on real people, the faces of the individuals used are fictitious.

Persona

CEO

Married, 2 children

Persona

Accountant

Single

Persona

Software developer

Single

Housing Insecure
Persona

Preschool teacher

Single

Persona

Mental health counselor

Single, 1 child

Housing Insecure
Persona

Primary school teacher

Single, 1 child

Persona

Pharmacist

Single

Housing Insecure
Persona

Registered Nurse

Single

Housing Insecure
Persona

Emergency Technician

Widowed

Housing Insecure
Persona

Pharmacy Technician

Divorced, 2 children

Housing Insecure
Persona

Home health aide

Separated, 1 child

Persona

Firefighter

Married, 1 child

Persona

Police officer

Single

Housing Insecure
Persona

Fast food worker

Separated, 2 children

Housing Insecure
Persona

Janitor

Married

Housing Insecure
Persona

Childcare worker

Single, 3 children

Housing Insecure
Persona

Landscape worker

Married, 1 child

Housing Insecure
Persona

Retail sales worker

Single

Housing Insecure
Persona

Hotel desk cleark

Married, 2 children

Persona

Postal mail carrier

Married, 2 children

Persona

Plumber

Married, 1 child

Persona

Construction worker

Single, 1 child

Persona

Auto repair mechanic

Married, 1 child

Housing Insecure
Persona

Retired

Single

What policies and investments are needed to increase affordability in our region?

No two jurisdictions are alike. We know that the right combination of housing, land use, and economic development policies in each jurisdiction are needed to generate the housing production and preservation outcomes we seek as a region. As part of the 2022 survey, we expanded our questions to the jurisdictions to dig deeper on what is happening at a local level. We wanted to know if there is a priority for housing households with very low incomes, because they are some of the most vulnerable in our population. We asked if local housing trust funds have dedicated sources of funding in order to ensure annual investment in affordable housing production. And we probed on preservation efforts happening across the region, as we know new production is not the only way to address our growing affordability crisis.

In the table below, you will see our expanded list of policies for 2022 that we believe comprise a comprehensive Housing Toolkit. These policies have been grouped according to three categories: Preserve, Produce, and Protect. We encourage you to learn more about each policy and, as you explore each jurisidction’s dashboards, you will see which policies have been adopted by each jurisdiction.

Right of first refusal

Right of first refusal policies give tenants, mission-oriented developers, or local governments the opportunity to buy rental properties that are being sold so that they can be preserved as affordable housing. Typically the right of first refusal purchaser must match a legitimate market offer for the property or has an exclusive period when it can make an offer. Local governments often do not retain properties obtained this way but will offer them to nonprofits or others for redevelopment.

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Right of first refusal

Right of first refusal policies give tenants, mission-oriented developers, or local governments the opportunity to buy rental properties that are being sold so that they can be preserved as affordable housing. Typically the right of first refusal purchaser must match a legitimate market offer for the property or has an exclusive period when it can make an offer. Local governments often do not retain properties obtained this way but will offer them to nonprofits or others for redevelopment.

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Right of first refusal

Right of first refusal policies give tenants, mission-oriented developers, or local governments the opportunity to buy rental properties that are being sold so that they can be preserved as affordable housing. Typically the right of first refusal purchaser must match a legitimate market offer for the property or has an exclusive period when it can make an offer. Local governments often do not retain properties obtained this way but will offer them to nonprofits or others for redevelopment.

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Change is happening in our communitiesSee the progress of your jurisdiction

City of Alexandria

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Arlington County

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Charles County

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District of Columbia

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Fairfax County

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City of Fairfax

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City of Falls Church

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Frederick County

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City of Gaithersburg

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Loudoun County

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City of Manassas

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Montgomery County

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Prince George's County

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Prince William County

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City of Rockville

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Who do we need to have at the table to build and preserve this housing?

Interconnected web of icons

Solving for our regional affordability crisis is everyone’s responsibility. Regardless of who you are, there is a seat at this table for you, and all hands are needed to do this work. When we think about the collective table required to address our ever-growing housing need, we ask the following questions:

  • Public Sector: How is the housing toolkit being leveraged? How is policy supporting production?
  • Private Sector: How can the private sector consider the location of jobs, increases in wages, and direct investment in housing?
  • Nonprofit Sector: How can mission be aligned with production and provision of services at the deepest levels of affordability?
  • Philanthropic Sector: How can philanthropic dollars be creatively deployed to support production?
  • Advocacy and Community: How can advocates and residents be armed with policy needs for which to push elected leadership to action?

Now is the time to LEAN IN to this table; our region needs you.

How can YOU take action?

How can you help? We’re so glad you asked!

It is not enough to recognize the housing crisis; we must actively work to solve for the need. Regional problems require regional solutions.

Public Sector

  • Formally adopt the MWCOG targets that address the housing needs of your jurisdiction
  • Show zero tolerance for policies that further exacerbate division along race and class
  • Develop policies and allocate appropriate resources to meet annual production goals, including:
    • Leveraging public land for affordable housing development
    • Utilizing tax abatements and fee incentives to encourage affordable housing production
    • Developing a comprehensive housing strategy that prioritizes affordable housing development
    • Adopting inclusionary zoning policies
    • Establishing housing trust funds with a dedicated revenue source to produce the respective jurisdiction’s annual target
    • Developing Right of First Refusal policies
    • Encouraging Transit-Oriented Development projects that link affordable housing to transportation, jobs, schools, and other resources
    • Adopting Housing First policies to prioritize access to housing for the most vulnerable members of our community
    • Funding local tenant vouchers to support access to affordable housing for the lowest income residents
    • Establishing emergency rental assistance programs
    • Prioritizing prevention of displacement policies
    • Prioritizing affordable housing development across all neighborhoods
    • Leveraging the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program to leverage public and private financing to rehabilitate deteriorating public housing units
    • Tracking local preservation inventory
    • Creating homebuyer assistance programs to enable individuals and families to move from rental to homeownership
  • Establish an Equity Office with a lead Equity Officer to support equitable development policies
  • Take full advantage of the federal resources that are available, such as preservation of existing public housing stock and strategic use of housing vouchers, HOME Investment Partnerships, Community Development Block Grant funding, and Low Income Housing Tax Credits.

Private Sector

Private Sector

Lenders & Financiers (Banks, CDFIs, and Tax Credit Syndicators)

  • Establish your own targets that align with the jurisdictions where you’re deploying funds
  • Integrate racial equity training and inclusive cultureinto policies and procedures that govern corporations and organizations

Private Sector

Real Estate Developers

  • Establish your own targets based on where you are working and the project type you are developing
  • Integrate racial equity training and inclusive cultureinto policies and procedures that govern corporations and organizations

Private Sector

Real Estate Professionals (Developers, Realtors, Architects, General Contractors, Attorneys, Accountants, Property Management)

  • Prioritize equitable development projects such as affordable and mixed-income housing in your company’s business areas of focus
  • Challenge the broader industry to design, build, and manage more equitably through an emphasis on quality design and intentional programming for affordable and mixed-income housing communities
  • Integrate racial equity training and inclusive cultureinto policies and procedures that govern corporations and organizations.

Private Sector

Employers

  • Use your voice to advocate for public policy changes making the economic case for producing more affordable housing in your neighborhood
  • Integrate racial equity training and inclusive cultureinto policies and procedures that govern corporations and organizations
  • Establish employer-assisted housing programs

Private Sector

Philanthropy

  • Establish your own targets that align with the jurisdictions where you’re deploying funds
  • Invest beyond the standard 5% of net investment assetstowards affordable housing production in the jurisdictions where the foundation operates
  • Integrate racial equity training and inclusive cultureinto policies and procedures that govern corporations and organizations
  • Convene experts and advise efforts aimed at increasing the availability of low- and moderate-cost housing
  • Pool capital through funder networks to increase the size of investments into affordable housing production
  • Provide guarantees to help developers secure financing for low- and moderate-cost housing, protect against vacancies in innovative types of residential properties (e.g., mixed-income developments, micro-housing, or multifamily properties serving larger families), or funding shortfalls for essential services in supportive housing developments
  • Fund efforts to build resident voice and advocate for policy change at the city and state levels

Private Sector

Social Sector (Think Tanks, Policy Organizations, Houses of Worship)

  • Leverage your unique platforms and microphones to convene and spread the word about the need and each person’s responsibility to meet that need
  • For land-holding organizations such as houses of worship, look for creative development opportunities, including partnerships, to integrate affordable housing production into your footprints and overall mission
  • Promote policies supported by sound data at the local, regional, and national levels to promote housing production and sound the alarm on policies that create restrictions and barriers to the production of affordable housing
  • Integrate racial equity training and inclusive cultureinto policies and procedures that govern corporations and organizations.

Non-Profits

Non-Profit

Developers & Service Providers

  • Establish your own targets based on where you are working and the project type you are developing
  • Integrate racial equity training and inclusive culture into policies and procedures that govern organizations
  • Utilize the Housing Indicator Tool to curate a bold advocacy agenda that encourages the jurisdictions where you operate to allocate the appropriate resources and expand public policy that truly solves for the need of affordable housing outlined in the MWCOG targets

Non-Profit

Community Members, Organizers & Advocates

  • Utilize the Housing Indicator Tool to bolster your advocacy agenda that holds the jurisdictions where you reside accountable to allocating the appropriate resources and expand public policy that truly solves for the need of affordable housing outlined in the MWCOG targets

Resources

Check out our Resources page to learn more about HAND, access additional materials on the HIT, and more!

View Additional Resources

Executive Summary

Need a brief overview? Check out the Executive Summary for background on the tool, what’s new in the 2022 release, and highlights on the progress our region has made on the affordable housing challenge.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Email Your Elected

Use this template to email your elected officials about the importance of prioritizing the housing targets. Check out your jurisdiction’s dashboard to customize your letter and locate contact information.

ACCESS THE TEMPLATE EMAIL

Activate with Us

Join us for activation events with speakers representing the private and public sector. These discussions explore how jurisdictions and industry professionals are responding to our region’s housing needs.

CHECK OUT OUR ACTIVATIONS