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Three in four D.C. residents say the city’s affordable housing is unfairly distributed

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That’s according to an official survey the city conducted over the summer

A city viewed from above, showing a traffic circle and tall buildings. There’s also an obelisk in the background.
Dupont Circle, viewed from above
Getty Images/Westend61

The District’s current spread of subsidized housing is unfair, 76 percent of residents said in a citywide survey whose results were released Saturday by D.C. planning officials. Participants overwhelmingly said additional affordable housing should be provided west of the Anacostia River, particularly on both sides of Rock Creek Park and immediately east of the U.S. Capitol.

The survey, which D.C.’s Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) and Office of Planning (OP) jointly administered from June 15 to August 31, in person and online, saw more than 2,760 respondents. Forty-one percent said they had lived in the District for at least 20 years, and half were in their 20s and 30s. Sixty-one percent identified as female, 35 percent as male, 45 percent as black or African-American, 38 percent as white, and 8 percent as Hispanic. Four-fifths said they felt “strongly” or “very strongly” that the present allocation of affordable housing in D.C.—predominately concentrated east of the Anacostia—is not fair.

A map of D.C showing 10 planning areas overlaid with icons of people meant to represent how many survey respondents said more affordable housing should be produced in those areas.
Proportions of residents who identified specific areas of D.C. where affordable housing should be built
D.C. government

“When we think about equity, what we heard is there’s a lot of work to do, that maybe we need to think about where our housing is, as well as how much we produce,” OP director Andrew Trueblood said at a community meeting at Deanwood’s Ron Brown High School Saturday. “Every part of the city has a housing need and an affordable housing need. Even places where there is a lot of affordable housing today we heard a lot about concerns about preservation.” Ward 3 residents, who live in neighborhoods west of Rock Creek Park, were the least likely to say D.C.’s current affordable housing distribution was unfair (60 percent).

A slide showing a bar graph of the ages of survey respondents and describing other respondent demographics such as gender and race.
Survey respondent demographics
D.C. government
A bar graph showing the percentages of D.C. ward residents who said the city’s current distribution of affordable housing is unfair.
Survey results by ward

Respondents also said officials should prioritize development in areas that have access to jobs, schools, transit, and grocery stores, according to the city. The survey results arrive as D.C. lawmakers are finalizing changes to the District’s Comprehensive Plan, its framework for future growth, for the first time since 2011. Another vote on the changes is set for this fall. Meanwhile, regional leaders earlier in September approved a goal of “at least” 320,000 new homes to be built by 2030, including 75 percent targeted at low- and middle-income families.