Most Washingtonians, regardless of where they reside, know that the city landscape is changing. It is hard not to notice the construction cranes and ubiquitous “sidewalk closed” signs signaling new buildings on the horizon. But this construction has left some, including those residing in older and economically challenged neighborhoods, asking whether these changes are ultimately a step forward, especially if construction makes the cost of living in their neighborhood unaffordable.
A recent New York Times article addresses this battle between gentrification and the expansion of affordable housing options. Many advocates and residents are concerned that developers are solely focused on building high-cost, market-rate housing, leaving those in low-rent apartments or in lower-cost neighborhoods in untenable positions. Specifically, the Times discusses development in Anacostia, where median home sales prices jumped 22 percent in 2017.
The Times also reports on the city’s efforts and commitment to increasing affordable housing. Since 2013, the city government has adjudicated thousands of legal challenges, many filed in an attempt to slow the speed of development across the District and ensure more affordable housing is included in development plans. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser is currently seeking to revise a comprehensive city plan to decrease these court challenges and undo the logjam of construction of badly needed new housing units. Despite these efforts, the future of affordable housing – and the effects of development on well-established neighborhoods – remains in question.