If D.C. region wants jobs, it needs housing

New housing must be priced affordably, an analysis finds. More than two-thirds of owner-occupied units need to be priced below $400,000, the GMU Center for Regional Analysis finds. (AP)

Adam Tuss, wtop.com

WASHINGTON — If housing is where the jobs live at night, then the D.C. region better start building more housing — and housing that is priced right.

That’s the point John McClain, deputy director of the George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis, is stressing to transportation leaders. McClain specializes in housing.

“We don’t have enough housing. That may seem like an odd thought given the market these days. But we are now issuing building permits at the level of about 10,000 permits per year. We need to be doing 35,000 permits per year,” McClain said at a recent transportation forum in Northern Virginia.

McClain cites an analysis that shows more than 1 million jobs will be coming to the D.C. area by 2030.

Unless the region wants more sprawling development built far away from job centers, which will add to existing congestion, McClain says it’s time to get smart about where the region builds.

“What has happened, is we have a shortage of housing, but the jobs where that housing lives in is located in West Virginia, Baltimore and other places. And that’s put another crush on our transportation systems,” said McClain.

A report by the Center for Regional Analysis finds the jobs coming to the region will have the following implications for local governments, builders, economic development professionals and employers:

  1. Jurisdictions are planning for an insufficient amount of housing to accommodate the future workforce.
  2. More housing needs to be closer to jobs.
  3. More multi-family housing and smaller, more affordable housing is needed, including rentals.
  4. A lack of housing makes traffic worse, decreases quality of life and threatens the region’s economic vitality.

The Housing the Region’s Future Workforce report spells out more on where the need for housing will be and specifically what’s needed.

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(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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