Following a week of site tours and interviews with public officials and a broad range of community stakeholders, the panel concluded that the city can build momentum for increasing the supply of affordable housing in Rock Creek West by garnering community buy-in through outreach, marketing, and education initiatives, and by simplifying the development process. A report with detailed recommendations, delivered to Mayor Bowser, included the following:
– Gain community support. The panelists recommended that the city create a marketing and education campaign to communicate the vision of affordable housing to stakeholders and create political will for support, and adopt a proactive strategy of engaging the real estate community in discussions around affordable housing.
– Understand the housing production gap. Between 2010 and 2017, the panelists found that the District gained about 92,250 residents but built only 18,000 total new units throughout the city, creating a gap of about 22,000 units and driving up rental costs. The Advisory Services panelists urged the city to closely examine the housing production gap and its ramifications.
– Streamline and improve the development process. The panelists advised the city to 1) create small area plans and consider them with great weight in the decision-making process, 2) closely examine the housing codes for unintended consequences, 3) promote construction and conversion of accessory dwelling units, and 4) partner with community land trusts and other shared-equity homeownership models to expand affordable, sustainable homeownership activities.
– Consider nontraditional methods to create more housing. The panelists recommended consideration of master-leasing existing housing on a trial basis, allowing “gentle density” increases in all Rock Creek West neighborhoods and specifically upzoning corridors near subway stations and bus stops.
The panel in Washington, D.C., was part of a series of ULI advisory panels convened to assist some of the nation’s most expensive cities with strategies to increase access to affordable and mixed-income housing, which is a priority for many areas seeking to attract and retain talented workers in various stages of their careers. The panel’s recommendations drew upon knowledge shared in a report published by the ULI Terwilliger Center for Housing, Attainable Housing: Challenges, Perceptions, and Solutions; as well as insights from previous panels focused on housing challenges in Chicago; Naples, Florida; Los Angeles; and Dallas.
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