Despite Washington, DC’s modest progress in constructing new housing projects, development in DC’s tonier neighborhoods is at a near standstill. Greater Greater Washington’s Patrick McAneney crunched the numbers for Adams Morgan, an upscale neighborhood in northwest Washington.
From 1980 to 2010, the population of Adams Morgan went from 15,352 to 15,630. It barely budged.
Over that same period, the average annual household income in our neighborhood went from $72,753 to $172,249 (a significant increase even when adjusting for inflation)
Our neighborhood also lost diversity over that time, going from 51% white to 68% white.
These statistics show all of the familiar symptoms of gentrification, but McAneney accurately identifies development as a friend, not a foe, of affordable housing.
“[L]ack of development didn’t ease the pressures of gentrification. New residents — primarily white and affluent — still managed to move into Adams Morgan as houses came onto the market, existing buildings were renovated, and apartments were rented out at higher prices over time. The demand they created pushed up prices, which wealthier home-seekers were able to afford while less affluent folks were not. Our neighborhood is a case study of how gentrification can still happen without development, not because of it.”
You can read more about where Washington is (and isn’t) building new housing in Jenny Schuetz’s report from the Brookings Institution.