Tuesday, June 19, 2012

What is affordable housing? (II)

While I still think these signs are made by developers to undermine opposition to the Hine redevelopment by labeling such opposition elitist or anti-low-income, let's look more closely at this sign:


How might the number of low-income units be increased at the Hine site?
  • The easiest way to provide more housing for "low-income" people would be to turn all the 158 proposed housing units into low-income units, such as by allowing only residents who earn less 30% of Area Median Income, which is $32,250. (See the table below for the current unit breakdown).
  • The number of "low-income" residents would be increased by using the DC Median Income, as opposed to the DC Metropolitan Area Median Income (AMI), to calculate who can live in low-income housing. As I discussed in a previous post, Hine has five units for those making less than $32,250, which is 30% of DC Metro AMI. However, the DC Metro AMI includes the incomes of those in DC and in the wealthy suburbs. In contrast to the DC Metro AMI of $107,500, DC's median income is actually $58,526. So, by using the $58,526 figure, we can increase the number of "low-income" people and especially "low-income" workers:
Hine Housing Units
Percent AMI Income Level Income Level Proposed Units

(DC Metro AMI, $107,500)
(DC Median, $58,526)
30% AMI$32,250 $17,558 5 units
60% AMI$64,500 $35,116 29 units
80% AMI$86,000 $46,821 12 units

Total: 46 affordable +

112 market-rate units

= 158 units

The five units at the $17,558 income level could then go to those working full-time at minimum wage, as well as disabled or elderly poor residents, who would not have to compete for those spaces against these workers (full-time pay based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics data on DC-area wages):
  • Barber/Salon Shampooers $19,390
  • Cashiers $21,780
  • Food Preparation Workers $22,510
  • Pharmacy Aides $26,020
  • Teaching Assistants $30,130
  • Floral Designers $30,800
  • Preschool Teachers $32,850
  • Rehabilitation Counselors $35,010
These workers would compete with each other for 29 units. Then, there would be a whole other set of 12 units for the following workers:
  • Dental Assistants $40,520
  • Medical/Clinical Lab Technicians $43,990
  • Carpenters $45,200
  • Police/Fire/Ambulance Dispatchers $45,260
  • Coaches and Scouts $45,570
This would leave the remaining 112 market-rate units to the following workers (or to the unemployed who can afford the market rate):
  • Securities/Commodities/Financial Services Sales Agents $97,750
  • Public Relations/Fundraising Managers $125,410
  • Aerospace Engineers $128,520
  • Pediatricians $131,760
  • Computer/Info Systems Managers $141,770
  • Lawyers $155,750
  • Dentists $168,200
  • Chief Executives $201,010
  • Obstetricians/Gynecologists $220,250
  • Surgeons $234,740
Yes, more low-income housing would be available by using DC Median Income or by inviting only those considered "low-income" -- a building full of preschool teachers, food preparation workers, and ambulance dispatchers, for example -- to be residents. Even if these signs are meant to undermine opposition to the Hine redevelopment (by calling such opposition elitist or anti-low-income), these signs might galvanize people to really increase low-income housing in Hine and elsewhere in Ward 6. In her May Hill Rag article, Jenny Reed wrote, "Over the last decade, half of the low-cost rental housing options have disappeared in the midst of DC's renaissance." These signs might have been meant honestly as calls for low-income housing in the face of its dramatic disappearance in the District.

P.S. Of course, one could also introduce more levels of income to capture other groups of workers too. However, there are other questions, such as do the low-income units enough space for families? and how long will the low-income units remain low-income?

1 comment:

  1. Like your post but you seriously need to incorporate economics into your analysis. You can't simply make all the units affordable - who would be able to finance this...it's all a question of financing . Otherwise you could have the city pick up tb for helping subsidize but they have no $$


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