The argument over the definition of “gentrification” never ends, but in its purest form, the term is associated with rising residential property values, and there’s no arguing that it’s happening in Washington to a greater degree than most other US cities.
In fact, according to figures put out last year by the Federal Reserve of Cleveland, DC had the fifth-highest gentrification pressure—trailing Boston, Seattle, New York, and San Francisco—with 35 percent of neighborhoods going from the bottom half of home prices to the top half over the past decade.
Affordable housing for city-dwellers, or the lack thereof, is also one of the biggest issues in this year’s DC mayoral race, with Mayor Vince Gray boasting about his administration’s spending $187 million on housing programs over the last 18 months, or challengers like Muriel Bowser and Andy Shallal saying they’d spend $100 million every year.
The Office of the Chief Financial Officer published today the freshest look at where housing prices are headed, and most neighborhoods continue to go up, according to the proposed tax assessments for fiscal year 2015. The biggest jump came in Northeast DC’s Trinidad, where residential tax assessments are projected to rise 24 percent, followed by Petworth (18 percent), Brookland (17 percent), Columbia Heights (16 percent), and LeDroit Park (15 percent).
The list of leading neighborhoods isn’t terribly surprising. Trinidad borders the ever-popular (and someday to be streetcar-connected) H St., NE, corridor, Columbia Heights and Petworth have been adding new residential projects and neighborhood amenities for several years, and Brookland is starting to experience a similar transformation with the construction of high-end developments like Monroe Street Market. And all of those neighborhoods had far different profiles than the beginning of the Cleveland Fed’s data set.
But with some residents feeling increasingly “squeezed out” by the rising costs of living, whoever winds up as DC’s next mayor will need to make affordable housing a budget priority. There’s at least one silver lining in the tax assessment report, though: Newly installed CFO Jeffrey DeWitt says the city has a total residential property tax base of nearly $98 billion in fiscal 2015 an increase of more than 8 percent over fiscal 2014.