District of Columbia Housing Authority leadership took part in a panel discussion regarding the future of housing.

DCHA Executive Director Adrianne Todman joined Brookings Institution’s Bruce Katz and American Enterprise Institute’s Edward Pinto in the panel discussion “Urban Life, Affordability, and a Growing and Aging Population” at the December 2 Housing For Tomorrow forum  hosted by The Atlantic magazine and AARP.

“We are in many ways the final frontier for affordable housing,” Todman said to the crowd, explaining the agency’s role in the District of Columbia.

Todman said DCHA is using its land to build larger, denser communities for all incomes to help “take care of competing forces.”

When asked by the moderator, AtlanticContributing Editor Mary Louise Kelly, how the agency competes with market rate developers, Todman said the economic development in D.C. works to DCHA’s benefit. DCHA’s properties, often near other areas undergoing economic development, add value to any redevelopment the authority undertakes. Therefore, more funding resources are attracted to the deal, she said. The ongoing redevelopment of the former Capper and Carrollsburg neighborhoods is a great example of this effect, she said.

“Because [some homes] are selling for $1 million, I can take that additional money and build affordable housing elsewhere,” she said.

Location is key in what individuals will be willing to pay for a home, said Pinto, a resident fellow and co-director of AEI’s International Center on Housing Risk.

“Where the jobs are is where you have the best utility for a neighborhood,” Pinto said, noting that the core D.C. metropolitan area did not see major housing busts in the recent market compared to the outskirts of the region.

The city also benefited from retiring baby boomers and younger generations being attracted to living closer to their jobs and services, as opposed to generations before that were more willing to travel for work, Katz said.

To address the need, the District will have to increase its density, he said. He noted that Madrid has 5,200 housing units per square kilometer, compared to 2,300 in San Francisco and 1,300 in D.C. He said to meet the need of the demand, the aging population will move in as long as services also are provided.

“Cities must adapt,” Katz said.

But city leadership must be thoughtful about how they adapt, Todman said. Long-time D.C. residents are feeling the changes happening today. That social aspect is a great responsibility, and as a larger city, residents should ask themselves what they want their community to be, she said.

The conversation shifted when Kelly asked if transportation still plays the same role as it did in the past when it comes to development locations.

Todman was quick to point out that in a city, many people no longer rely on a personal car. With public transit, the advent of Uber and car sharing, parking spaces are not as high priority anymore.

“If we could reduce parking, we could pay for more housing,” she said, referring to the city’s policies and requirements on developers.

Katz agreed and said governments must adjust to the new changes. He said the future federal government will be “health insurance with an army” due to the growing need for medical services with the aging population mixed with the increasing dangers of the world. Many responsibilities of the federal government will be pushed to the local level, he said. The new rules must match these priorities, he said.


Last modified: 12/4/2015 12:54:30 PM