ULI Philadelphia member, Brian Rajan Nagendra for Abacus Impact recently served on a ULI Advisory Services panel about increasing affordable housing and density in D.C.’s affluent neighborhoods.
The 13-square-mile (34 sq km) Rock Creek West planning district, most of which is in the city’s Ward 3, is predominantly zoned residential, with a housing stock that is primarily owner-occupied single-family homes. About 80 percent of the population is white, in a city in which white households have a net worth more than 81 times greater on average than their African American counterparts. The panel recommended a three-pronged approach to meeting the 2025 goal: streamline and improve the development process, gain community support, and create more housing.
One way to increase housing production in a density-averse area would be to promote development of accessory dwelling units (ADUs), the panel said. ADUs—smaller, independent residential units located on the same lot as a standalone single-family home—have been permitted under D.C. zoning since 2016. Cities such as Boston, Los Angeles, and Portland, Oregon, have offered incentives for such development, panelists pointed out. “If accessory apartments could be added to just 14 percent of the 17,700 single-family homes in Rock Creek West, that alone would meet the goal of 2,500 new units,” said panelist Brian Rajan Nagendra of Philadelphia-based Abacus Impact.