The Washington, D.C., area will need to add more than 75,000 homes over about the next 10 years than currently projected to keep up with the number of new jobs expected in the region, according to a report released this week.
The region is expected to add about 413,000 new jobs between 2020 and 2030, but is expected to add only 245,000 new housing units over that time, according to the report released Wednesday by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.
While not every new job means the need for a new home, the 245,000 number is still 75,000 short of the accepted balance of jobs and new homes, according to the report.
Meeting the challenge will require leaders and governments from around the region to work together to increase the amount of housing available, said Paul DesJardin, director of community planning and services for the council.
“I think we’re at a really critical decision point,” he said.
Along with the 320,000 additional units needed, the report recommended that at least 75 percent of the new housing should be in regional activity centers or near high-capacity transit, and at least 75 percent of it should be affordable for low- and middle-income households.
The necessary increase in housing can be accommodated in existing local comprehensive plans, and with the variety of housing in the Washington area, it will be up to local governments and communities to determine what constitutes affordable housing for themselves, DesJardin said.
“We have an incredibly complex housing market. I think that goes without saying,” he said.
Activities centers are made up of existing towns or urban areas, priority growth areas and transit hubs.
Frederick County has several such areas, with most clustered around the city of Frederick, as well as in Brunswick and Urbana.
The Livable Frederick master plan, passed recently by the Frederick County Council, also calls for growth centered on transit, among its many goals.
Proximity to transportation can play a large role in the impact that new housing can have.
In what will come as no surprise to Frederick County commuters who travel down Interstate 270, the report noted that the lack of housing in the region causes an influx of workers from outside the region to commute in.
“This situation affects the area’s affordability, potentially undercuts its appeal to new companies and talent, strains the transportation system, and impacts the environment and quality of life for the region’s residents,” the report said. “For some, this means not only long commutes to work, but also difficult choices between paying rent or affording other basic necessities such as food or medicine.”
The Washington region produced plenty of new housing before the Great Recession, and has been slowly edging its production back up, according to the report.
The region averaged more than 25,000 new housing units per year in the 1990s, and more than 30,000 per year in the early 2000s, largely single-family houses in the outer suburbs, according to the report.
During and after the recession, the numbers dropped to about 10,000 units per year.
The averages have gone up since 2011, and in 2018, the region produced more than 21,000 units.
“Although this is the right trajectory, this production level is not sufficient to meet the growing need in the region,” the report said.