Affordable housing conversations tend to be just between advocates, government officials and real estate developers. But housing affordability matters to employers. As representatives of leading businesses who employ more than 200,000 people in the region, the Greater Washington Partnership recognizes that the high cost of housing threatens the Washington metro area’s future economic growth and prosperity. Today, the Urban Institute released “Meeting the Washington Region’s Future Housing Needs” report, made possible through support from the Greater Washington Partnership and JPMorgan Chase. The report provides business leaders, policy makers, community members and advocates with evidence-based insights so they can join the collective push for solutions, and help create a healthy housing market in which residents and businesses thrive.
This report finds that housing prices are too expensive for most of the region’s workforce, with the area’s ratio of median home price ($375,000) to median household income ($100,000) at about 4:1—and trending upward. While this falls short of the crisis faced by other major metropolitan areas, it puts our region at an important inflection point. We must take action now.
Housing insufficiencies already make it harder to recruit and retain top talent. And as people continue to move further from business centers in search of housing they can afford, it further stresses an already overburdened transportation infrastructure. Ensuring that our region has a strong talent base and well functioning transportation system are key priorities of the Partnership. With housing production shortfalls also driving up costs, a growing share of middle-income households are feeling the squeeze, fueling concerns about a “missing middle” and heightening competition for more affordable units.
Some of the recommendations of the Regional Housing report are:
- The region’s leaders must join together to establish 10-year targets, which include:
- Shrink the current affordability gap.
- Increase the pace of new housing production.
- Align additional housing units with expected household needs and resources.
- Local governments can contribute to the achievement of regional targets, which include:
- Adopt or strengthen evidence-based policy tools tailored to local needs and capacities.
- Encourage state governments to support the capacity of local governments to achieve targets.
- Urge local governments to authorize increases in public funding and regulatory authority.
- Business and philanthropy should use their influence to build and sustain regional commitment, which include:
- Monitor progress toward targets.
- Contribute to public-private partnerships with greatest potential.
The Greater Washington Partnership’s mission is to bring leading employers and entrepreneurs together to make our region one of the world’s best places to live, work and build a business. A well-functioning housing market is critical to that mission. We must be able to join the housing conversation, so employees at every income level can find homes that they can afford.