Monday, August 28, 2006

Housing Crisis and SRO's

Michael Grunwald had an article on the incredible cost of housing in the DC area yesterday. Today he hosted a discussion on it. He talked about government housing aid, zoning restrictions, and similar subjects. Some comments:
  • In the late 60's I was renting an efficiency in downtown DC--somewhere around $110 a month. I started off working for the government at $5K, so I was spending maybe 25 percent of my salary for housing. I ended buying in Reston for $55K at about the peak of the housing boom in the 70's. These may be wrong, but my impression is that starting salary for the Feds is around $30-35K (6 times mine), my townhouse is about 6 times more valuable, and rental rates may be a bit higher than 6 times $110.
  • I remember Reston was originally planned (in '64 or '65)to have lots of multifamily housing, but they ended up changing to have more single family houses and fewer townhouses, condos and apartments. Responding to the market they said.
  • The free market creates its own solution to housing problems--in some areas, including mine, immigrants are buying houses based on having multiple people rooming there. It may or may not be legal, but it works. It also represents another advantage of immigrants over natives in the competition for opportunity. Immigrant males are more willing to live crowded than are natives.
  • One positive sign of the change is there's less competition for parking spaces. :-) The new immigrants don't have money for cars; they ride bikes or buses or carpool.

1 comment:

  1. The question should be, Does the higher cost of housing in WDC discourage qualified civil servants from taking a transfer to WDC?

    Why transfer to WDC, fight traffic and parking spaces, while you could receive a comparable income from staying in fly over country.

    Both jobs provide the ability to do the people's work!

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