D.C. housing prices: D.C. area one of the least affordable

A minimum-wage worker must work 132 hours per week to afford a two-bedroom apartment in D.C., the study says. Photo: ABC7

Residents here face one of the biggest gaps between wages and housing prices in the country, according to two studies cited by the Washington Business Journal. The Business Journal reports that ZipReality Inc., a real estate brokerage company, finds that the median housing price in the Washington area was $1.03 million from November to Feb. 10. That’s 16.7 times higher the median income, the Business Journal reports.

If that weren’t bad enough, the National Low Income Housing Coalition issued a report looking at the cost of renting in the District.

The advocacy group found that fair-market rent for a two-bedroom apartment in the District is $1,412. A renter would need to earn $27.15 an hour to pay the rent if they worked full time and spent 30 percent of their income on rent.

If you make D.C.’s minimum wage of $8.25 an hour, you’d need three jobs or would need to work 132 hours per week at minimum wage to pay the rent. That report ranks the District second only behind Hawaii in terms of how much a worker needs to make per hour to afford the rent.

Maryland (6th) and Virginia (9th) also rank highly in the coalition's report. Maryland workers would have to log 135 hours/per week at minimum wage, while in Virginia, that number is at 114.

D.C.'s statistics are actually down from the 2012 report by the NLIHC, which concluded that a minimum-wage worker would have to work 140 hours per week to afford fair-market rent for a two-bedroom apartment.

"Our gap between the price of housing and what people can afford to pay is the largest of anywhere in the country," says Bryant Switzky, senior reporter at the Washington Business Journal

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, in an address last month, pledged to invest $100 million in building or sustaining 10,000 units of affordable housing.

Observers are worried, however, that the expected 5 percent cut in the federal budget, which provides 97 percent of the D.C. Housing Authority's nearly $300 million budget, would undermine that initiative.

"All of a sudden prices are going up very very rapidly," says Donna Evers, a real estate agent. "And it's because of the crisis that we had for the last 7 years and the low inventory. Nobody was building or renovating. And so all of a sudden we have lots of demand and very little supply."

You can read the entire NLIHC report here.

READ MORE at Washington Business Journal.

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