Cataloging where DC should preserve affordable housing as the city’s population continues to grow
Photo by TJ Brown via Shutterstock.
Update (9/14/20): The DC Preservation Catalog website was retired on Sept. 10, 2020. Preservation Catalog data on assisted housing in DC, along with data on neighborhood conditions and community assets, are now available on HousingInsights.org.
Washington, DC, continues to grow. After decades of decline from the late 1940s to 2000, DC‘s population recently surpassed 700,000. The Office of Planning forecasts that DC’s population will surpass 800,000 by 2030 and reach nearly 1 million residents by 2045.
All this growth has put pressure on the housing market, causing rents and home prices to rise and increasing affordability challenges. A key part of DC’s strategy for addressing these challenges is to focus on preserving housing that is currently affordable but may be at risk of loss or redevelopment.
Housing at risk includes aging buildings that need investment to stay habitable and properties where subsidies to keep units affordable may be expiring. In 2015, Mayor Muriel Bowser convened a Preservation Strike Force that focused on these and other threats to DC’s affordable housing.
To support preservation efforts, Urban–Greater DC and the Coalition for Nonprofit Housing and Economic Development (CNHED) maintain the DC Preservation Catalog. Initially created by the National Low Income Housing Coalition from national sources, the catalog is a database of assisted housing that is updated monthly.
Data include property names, locations, and details on the various subsidies that contribute to a property’s affordability, including each subsidy’s effective expiration dates and the number of income-restricted units. The catalog is used by the DC Preservation Network, which includes representatives from city agencies, nonprofits, community organizations, affordable housing developers, and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, to develop responses and strategies to preserve affordable housing for low-income residents.
How to use the catalog
A publicly available online version of the DC Preservation Catalog shows the location of affordable housing across DC. Users can find a specific project by zooming in on the map or entering the address.
The catalog also lets users filter properties by housing or subsidy characteristics and search for information like a project’s risk of expiring, owner information, and the number of units in the property. Users can also filter results by ward, advisory neighborhood commission, and neighborhood cluster, as well as search for events like property foreclosures or sales.
By providing access to the catalog, Urban–Greater DC and CNHED hope to give decisionmakers and residents access to information that can help inform discussion about better strategies and actions to preserve DC’s precious and vulnerable affordable housing.