Housing Complex

D.C.’s the Second Most Expensive “State” for Renters

The National Low Income Housing Coalition just came out with its 2011 data dump, and D.C. residents shouldn't be that surprised: Our fair city is second only to Hawaii in the price of its rental housing.

More specifically, the NLIHC calculates the "housing wage," which is the full-time hourly wage a household would need to earn in order to afford the fair market rent for an apartment, paying no more than 30 percent of their income on housing. For D.C., that's $28.10; Hawaii's is $31.08.

Of course, that's a little misleading—D.C. is the only solely urban jurisdiction in that ranking, so rents will inevitably be higher. But it's not that far off from the highest-ranked metropolitan area, Stamford-Norwalk, Conn., which comes in at $34.62. And the most instructive numbers are those comparing D.C.'s rents with the median renter's income, which is $38,210. You'd need to make $58,440 in order for the fair market rent for a two-bedroom to be considered affordable. 68 percent of D.C.'s rental population—55 percent of the entire population—doesn't meet that bar.

All of which will probably be used by the folks rallying tomorrow for affordable housing programs in D.C.'s 2012 budget.

  • Drez

    Even more so, because the tallys include neighborhoods in which a large segment if the middle class would not consider renting due to DCs coddling of the um(der)employed poor, and the serious quality of life issues that result from that.

  • Alex

    Don't we also have the highest percentage of lawers?

  • Alex


  • Eric

    Don't forget that the 30% of income is an unfair metric for DC. Those with the highest rents closest to the center of town are also in the most accessible areas via public transit. The 30% metric is based upon the assumption of car ownership. A better metric for renters in the most accessible parts of the city is probably 50% of income. If you don't own a car, you can afford more.

  • mike

    Eric, you make a valid point but I doubt the difference comes to 20% of income. Sure, you won't have potential car payments without a car(and insurance, gas and repairs) but that is partly offset by the cost of metro/bus and maybe the occasional zip car.
    More importantly, I don't care how much money you make, if you expend 50% of your income on rental housing, you are a fool. That is unless you are close to the poverty line where you may be forced to spend that portion of income on rental housing, which is what the article is trying to point out

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