Affordable housing hard to come by in DC metro area

(WASHINGTON)-- Anyone in the region who has tried to rent an apartment or a house can tell you it's not easy and it's not cheap. Some new information out this week highlights just how bad the shortage of affordable housing may be across our area.

Many area residents, no matter what their income, are like James Ray who pays $940 in rent for a two bedroom apartment in Anacostia with his wife and two kids. Both he and his wife work full time. However, they are forced to pay more than the traditional 30 percent of their income just for a place to live.

Ray says after he pays rent he has little left for food or clothing for his family.

The Council of Governments and the Urban Institute which has just released a study on affordable housing in the Washington region says more than half of the region's population pays too much for house rental housing whether it be for a standard apartment like the Rays or for a luxury high rise.

Terri Lee Freeman, President of the Community Foundation, which commissioned the study , says with income down, and rents up, many residents have lost four percent of their buying power in the last few years.

The average cost of an apartment in the region is $1,320 bucks a month meaning 50 percent pay more. Arlington County has the highest rents, an average of $1,570 a month. Prince George's County is the lowest at $1,110.

The report says 94,000 units are needed across the region in order to meet demand.

If you have a down payment the alternative is buying a home. However the same report says almost one third of the homeowners in the region also pay more than 30 percent of their income on housing.



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