Greater Greater Washington

Millennials entering the workforce need affordable housing

I am one of the millennials, at 80 million the largest generation in American history. We're now entering the workforce, and many will stay in or move to the DC area. But few of my generation may choose to live in Mont­gomery County if we can't find affordable housing in an urban setting.


Urban centers like downtown Silver Spring are pricing out millennials. Photo by the author.

It's no surprise that DC-area housing is scarce and expensive. The popular "Shit People in DC Say" video jokes that all 20-somethings here live in English basements or converted sunrooms renting for $1,400 a month. Meanwhile, recent college graduate and Washington Post columnist Steven Overly has been documenting his struggle to find a place to live.

The issue of housing young adults is especially acute in Montgomery County, which has morphed from "the perfect suburbia" into a regional employment center where millennials can find work. There's already an acute shortage of affordable housing, particularly around Metro stations, where apartments can command rents 40% higher than those in other areas.

In Montgomery County, there are about 180,000 millennials, making up about 20% of the total population. As planning director Rollin Stanley points out, many of them have gone back to live with their parents. I did after I graduated college, as did most of my friends.


A map of where 35 of my friends and coworkers, all within 3 years of graduating college, were living in 2009. Yellow houses represent people living with their parents, while red beds represent those living on their own.

As the economy improves, we'll want to move out of the house and out of the suburbs as well. There's no shortage of articles about how millennials want to live in urban settings. My friends who've struck out on their own are trying to get near Metro or their favorite hangouts, both in DC and in suburban downtowns like Silver Spring and Bethesda. But the kind of housing and neighborhoods we want are in short supply here. After all, Montgomery County was and is still seen as a place to raise kids, and its built form represents what people thought was the best way to do so, with big, detached houses and cul-de-sacs.

A recent report (PDF) from economist Stephen Fuller suggests that the county will need as many as 60,000 new homes in the next ten years to accommodate new households. Nearly half of them have to serve households making less than $50,000 a year, while two-thirds will need to be multi-family homes. That's us: millennials moving out of their parents' houses, looking for small homes in close-in locations we can afford on entry-level salaries.

Developers are responding to the demand for housing. Both new and old apartment buildings are being repositioned to draw young professionals with high-end amenities, but their high rents price many Millennials out of the market. 20 years ago, my mother rented a one-bedroom in downtown Silver Spring for $685 a month. Today, that same apartment rents for $1,742 a month, but there are now granite countertops and swanky rooftop parties.

If the millennial generation wants to live the urban lifestyle, which can take cars off the road, conserve land and revitalize older neighborhoods, shouldn't we make it easier and more affordable to do so?


Increasing the supply of housing, like these recently-built apartments in Silver Spring, can help lower prices.

The best way to reduce or even eliminate what Matt Yglesias calls the "Metro premium" is to increase the supply of housing near transit, reducing prices. In the coming years, thousands of new residential units will be built at several of Montgomery County's 13 Metro stations. Even if 20-somethings aren't in the market for luxury apartments, they can help satisfy the demand for housing, lowering prices.

Increasing the variety of housing types will help as well. Montgomery County should encourage the creation of accessory dwelling units, also known as granny flats or laneway homes. They'll provide a new source of low-cost housing while preserving the character of close-in, single-family neighborhoods. In more urban settings like downtown Silver Spring, so-called "micro-lofts" or Single Room Occupancy (SRO) units like the Videre in Seattle provide compact, comfortable accommodations to singles who don't need and can't afford a lot of space. And for those ready to buy a home, small-lot houses like these in Portland can give privacy while keeping costs down.

For some Montgomery County residents, the term "affordable housing" conjures up images of crime and blight. But those who need low-cost housing are often your own kids, eager to stay close to the people and places they love. If Montgomery County wants the millennial generation to make their homes here, it needs to become more affordable. After all, one day we'll want to start families, and if we're already living here, we're more likely to stick around.

Dan Reed is an urban planner at Nelson\Nygaard. He writes his own blog, Just Up the Pike, and serves as the Land Use Chair for the Action Committee for Transit. He lives in downtown Silver Spring. All opinions are his own. 

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Not a big issue. Once these millennials get a little older and start having kids of their own, they'll want to leave the urban center for the affordability, peace, quiet, and safety of the 'burbs (not to mention the good schools). Taking the subway or biking to work seems cool at 20 but by 30 or 40 most people yearn for the comfort, freedom, safety, and reliability of the car. Urban living is destined to be a small niche market in the U.S. Read Wendell Cox, Randal O'Toole, and Joel Kotkin and see how the next 100 million Americans will be living in the suburbs and not in the classic urban cores.

All this assumes the millennials get past their spoiled-brat syndrome and entitlement issues.

by Thinkin' Reader on Jan 24, 2012 11:59 am • linkreport

We need to move away from the idea of "accessory apartments" and return to the concept of "two-family house." This makes a big difference in practice - an accessory apartment requires special permission, which is expensive, time-consuming, and hard for less affluent homeowners to navigate. Allowing two-family houses in some areas (right now, as far as I know, there is no place at all in Montgomery County that is zoned for two-family houses - you can only build them in areas zoned for townhouses, which is not where anyone's single-family house is located) would help homeowners who are currently having trouble paying their mortgages as well as the potential tenants.

by Ben Ross on Jan 24, 2012 12:02 pm • linkreport

Too bad the suburbs are also to expensive that if you're a first time home buyer who fully wants a suburban lifestyle you're still gonna have to go out to stafford or howard county.

by Canaan on Jan 24, 2012 12:07 pm • linkreport

Couldn't disagree more, Thinkin' Reader.

Demographics and living preferences are shifting. People are getting married later, having fewer kids, and spending more time focused on their career. Urban living is not for everyone, but there is a growing segment of the population that it appeals to. The market in DC is a perfect example. Bikeshare has been overwhelmingly successful and rents are at a premium near Metro b/c of high demand (as this article discusses).

by Mark on Jan 24, 2012 12:17 pm • linkreport

@Thinkin' Reader - did you even read the article???

"Once these millennials get a little older and start having kids of their own, they'll want to leave the urban center for the affordability, peace, quiet, and safety of the 'burbs (not to mention the good schools)."

I'm a homeowner near downtown Silver Spring. I live next to a park in a quite neighborhood, but am still 1/2 a mile from downtown and walk to dinner, the metro, movie theater, etc., have a great set of schools for my kids to feed into, don't worry about crime, etc. That's the entire point of the article - what I have is expected to be in high demand for the foreseeable future.

How do we preserve the great things about MoCo while also increasing supply/lowing the costs associated with everything I listed? I think smart growth in Wheaton, Glenmont, and the region as a whole (I'm looking at you PG) is key. Silver Spring and Bethesda deal with affordability issues because they're the rare gem instead of the standard. Flip that on its head and most people who want to live a walkable, sustainable, and fulfilling livestyle will have the opportunity to do so.

by jag on Jan 24, 2012 12:19 pm • linkreport

I think more than anything this is a supply-and-demand issue and I'm not really sure that single adults making $50K a year need affordable housing options. Most people I know who cannot afford a single-bedroom rent will seek out roommates.

by Fitz on Jan 24, 2012 12:21 pm • linkreport


For some Montgomery County residents, the term 'affordable housing' conjures up images of crime and blight. But those who need low-cost housing are often your own kids, eager to stay close to the people and places they love.

These two aren't at odds with one another. The reason "affordable housing" conjures up images of crime and blight is that the most blighted and crime-ridden neighborhoods are also the most affordable. The real trick is exactly how to create affordable housing units in the numbers required, avoid the crime and blight, all while maintaining the affordability in the face of increasing demand.

I think in some sense, entry-level professionals (e.g. millennials), "workforce" people, and highly subsidized poor (e.g. Section 8, public housing residents) are always going to be competing for the same stock of housing. I'm not sure exactly what the solution to that is, other than build a lot of dense housing, and somehow use economic quotas to prevent it from turning into Cabrini Green.

by oboe on Jan 24, 2012 12:22 pm • linkreport

Once these millennials get a little older and start having kids of their own, they'll want to leave the urban center for the affordability, peace, quiet, and safety of the 'burbs (not to mention the good schools). Taking the subway or biking to work seems cool at 20 but by 30 or 40 most people yearn for the comfort, freedom, safety, and reliability of the car. Urban living is destined to be a small niche market in the U.S. Read Wendell Cox, Randal O'Toole, and Joel Kotkin and see how the next 100 million Americans will be living in the suburbs and not in the classic urban cores.

Why is it that elites like yourself are always telling people how to live? Talk about arrogant!

What do you think, Dan? Do you find it comforting to know that the "lifestyle police" are going to put you in a boxcar and ship you off to Dale City the second they determine you've hit "breeding" age? I would think not!

FREEDOM!

by Oboe's Id on Jan 24, 2012 12:28 pm • linkreport

MoCo could achieve this goal the same way they got the Filmore (in DTSS) built in less than a year, by making sure to smooth all the obstacles in the way. Waive the infinate reviews on traffic etc. and simplify the zoning around metro stops. If developers could be guaranteed to break ground with-in a year of submitting a project, my guess is there'd be many more going up as we speak.
Hell, if you really wanted to do it right, start building the purple line already, and for good measure, build more light rail lines. This will bring the kind of suburbanism with urban benefits most people actually want. Call it garden cities, new urbanism, or TOD's, just put in place the mechanisms for the market to work more efficiently and soon there will be an overbuilding of units. Voila, affordable housing!

by Thayer-D on Jan 24, 2012 12:36 pm • linkreport

Is there really a strong interest in those Portland shoebox houses? I know people pay ungodly sums of money for that much square footage in NYC, but I would rather rent and save money until I could buy a place I could turn around in than drop $100,000 on a tiny, tiny apartment. I can see those as great rental places but even I, as a car-free person who wouldn't consider leaving the city and am on a pretty average income, would never have considered buying one of those places.

Maybe that's the next step though; I'm not 21, and it's certainly the kind of community I'd be happy to have in my neighborhood.

by Joe on Jan 24, 2012 12:41 pm • linkreport

I am not sure I see the "problem" as it were. This "issue" is ~60 years old and the world hasn't stopped functioning yet.

Person graduates highschool / college, move into group house or tiny apt in a iffy and/or remote part of town.

A few years go by, person increases their purchasing power, moves out of group homes/iffy apt's and moves into larger apts in nicer parts of town.

A few more years and person is looking for their entry level purchase, condo/sfh. A few more years they are married with small childern or they are on the way. They now make enough money either alone of via combined income to support said family and make their next move to a larger / nicer place.

So on and so forth. This has been the way of urban living since after the Second WW.

DC isn't "alone" in this regard. Young folks in every major metropolitan / urban area in the nation has to navigate this.

by freely on Jan 24, 2012 12:44 pm • linkreport

@freely: True. But don't forget that DC is one of the youngest cities, demographically speaking, in the country. So there's likely to be a more visible problem here.

@Fitz:
There are those who would really rather not live with roommates, though. Just a point to consider. (Not a complaint - I'm perfectly content with my housing options, thank you very much. :-) )

by Ser Amantio di Nicolao on Jan 24, 2012 12:55 pm • linkreport

Well, unless you marry kind of young which takes out a lot of group home situations. If I hadn't gotten a better paying job that put me more in line with what goes for rent around here. But if that hadn't happened then my wife and I were seriously planning our move to richmond where we could afford to rent an apartment for less than half the cost of what average rents are around here. And I shared homes with up to 6 other roommates beforehand, so yes I'd say something is out of whack at least it was for me and most of my peers many of whom had to move away just to find a cheaper place to live.

by Canaan on Jan 24, 2012 12:55 pm • linkreport

Want more affordable housing? stop permitting new office space and just approve residential.

by David on Jan 24, 2012 12:57 pm • linkreport

and by marrying young I mean were both 24. So not that young at all in fact.

by canaan on Jan 24, 2012 12:58 pm • linkreport

Good point about the micro-lofts, esp. with an example from the urban mecca of Vancouver, BC. The new building at 14th & Wallach Place in DC's U Street neighborhood will have tiny studios - around 350 square feet. This is a needed type of housing for a huge cohort that wants to be where the action is and is likely to delay having a family for a bit. "Micro-loft" might be a fresh start, departing from the still needed, but perhaps less welcome SROs.

by ccort on Jan 24, 2012 1:05 pm • linkreport

Is there really a strong interest in those Portland shoebox houses? I know people pay ungodly sums of money for that much square footage in NYC, but I would rather rent and save money until I could buy a place I could turn around in than drop $100,000 on a tiny, tiny apartment. I can see those as great rental places but even I, as a car-free person who wouldn't consider leaving the city and am on a pretty average income, would never have considered buying one of those places.

What? Something like this:

http://bit.ly/AriWwB (Streetview Here: http://g.co/maps/zvbh9)

It's a ~500 square foot two *room* (not bedroom) single-story row house. Floor plan is: enter through front-door, you're in the living room. Open the next door, you're in the kitchen. Open the next door, you're in the back yard.

Note the list price of just under $300k.

I guess the interest depends on location, location, location.

by oboe on Jan 24, 2012 1:14 pm • linkreport

This seems to assume that everyone is entitled to live by him/her self. Group houses have always been the route people just starting out followed to live in places they can't afford to live on their own, and the current crop of young people should do the same.

by Marian Berry on Jan 24, 2012 1:36 pm • linkreport

I think Thayer-D hit part of the issue, and it will be a big one in the coming years. Start building the Purple Line, but more importantly, start planning for the additional transit infrastructure so there will be more transit accessible places.

Chicken-egg, but we have to start somewhere.

by Andrew on Jan 24, 2012 1:38 pm • linkreport

Well, the issue is that we need a much more nuanced housing policy in metropolitan areas. The way we do things now--mostly building large tracts of single family housing, or big apartment buildings--doesn't provide much in the way of variety.

DC proper is limited even further because the height restriction limits our supply.

Probably too as more people have been attracted to the city, more previously rented group houses have been converted to single family.

Among my recommendations are plexes: http://www.urbanphoto.net/blog/2006/12/21/getting-to-know-the-plex/

and for you personally: http://travellingboard.net/hotels/capsule-inn-akihabara-welcome-to-tokyo/

Plus alley dwellings and other utilization of interstitial space (e.g., have you ever noticed those really long lots along Puerto Rico Avenue between Brookland and Fort Totten. Those should have been converted into rowhouses or apartments years ago.

by Richard Layman on Jan 24, 2012 1:46 pm • linkreport

I think the more important question is as follows:

If there is a big demand and rents are unreasonably high with respect to costs of production and maintenance, then why aren't more units being produced?

Once you have the answer to that then people will have a better idea of a solution.

Otherwise, it sounds to me that Millennials should find a group home to live or check out neighborhoods that have less amenities.

by Geof Gee on Jan 24, 2012 1:48 pm • linkreport

and having roommates/group housing is a great solution except neighbors don't like it and there are a lot of laws that limit how many unrelated people can legally live in a dwelling which makes landlords averse to renting to those groups. So by all means lets open houses to both subdividing and remove restrictions. If it's a five bedroom house then five unrelated people should be allowed to live there.

by Canaan on Jan 24, 2012 1:49 pm • linkreport

Interesting point... but i think freely is pretty right. I went through this. There are all sorts of urban places I wanted to live, but I could not afford to do so. So I had to make other choices. To me, this is such a slippery slope. I think there are a lot of people, millenial and otherwise, who would love to have a place next to a metro, around the corner from their favorite bar or store, and near their job. That is precisely why those places are expensive - demand.

I only see two ways to fix this - by increasing supply to such a point that lack of demand will force prices down, or creating artificially low-priced housing stock so that certain pre-determined(this is the real problem) people can afford it.

I don't believe the former will happen any time soon (the lead time for dense construction like this is years, by which point we could be dealing with a different marketplace or economy), and the latter, I think, is just economically unsustainable and unfair.

Certainly I think we should encourage more development to permit a diverse set of housing options, but aggressive action to give any one demographic access to what the marketplace has determined is prime real estate just seems fundamentally flawed to me. I know it's tough. It's expensive. But this is the reason why neighborhoods formerly deemed undesirable are on the rebound - the market is spreading progess to other wards in the City. Some are more interesting than others and yes, some are still pretty crappy. But at the end of the day - you make the choices you need to make to prosper.

by EH on Jan 24, 2012 1:51 pm • linkreport

Let's see. The issue is that for too many people in DC, the place they really want to live is too expensive for them. Here in DC, this dynamic is amplified by the fact that the regional economy is better than many other parts of the country,

Does it not occur to anyone that this is how housing markets work? Desireable places are in greater demand, and accordingly cost more. Affordable housing is going to be in short supply where those conditions apply. Those who cannot afford the rents are going to have to make compromises, such as on size, safety, distance and/or other factors.

by Crickey7 on Jan 24, 2012 2:00 pm • linkreport

@ all the folks saying this is how markets work

I dont see the poster calling for massive intervention to create affordable units for 20somethings. All I see is the poster calling for enabling the MARKET driven process to go forward, by not artificially restricting multifamily development near metros. Given that some folks do want to restrict that, in the name of compatible development, in the name of affordable housing (!), or just out of orneriness against youth, hipsters, and socialist (!) advocates of walkability, this bears pointing out.

To the extent that the tight market for 20something housing impacts housing options for everyone else (some of those group houses might be affordable SFHs for families if the 20somethings had somewhere else to go), to the extent that the tight housing market impacts the competitiveness of local firms (which is surely already the case in NYC, and is probably a factor here in DC) that might argue for not only getting out of the way of the market, but for supporting the provision of TOD housing by the construction of more transit (or improving bike/ped access to existing transit).

Additionally the existence of the tight market suggests that if we add transit or improved access to existing transit in pursuit of other goals - reducing road congestion, reducing vmt and emissions, improving local tax revenues - the market will likely ratify that.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jan 24, 2012 2:13 pm • linkreport

So, what's the rationale for why taxpayers should subsidize housing for Millenials? There's a rationale for doing that when there are positive externalities (like preserving the character of an area by subsidizing housing for people who lived there prior to gentrification) but I don't see why Millenials should be prioritized over anyone else for affordable housing.

What the market is telling Millenials, is that they shouldn't try to live in the most desirable places which they can't afford. Rather, they should move to new areas of town and get busy re-vitalizing them with their youthful energy and community spirit. For example, why not live in Brentwood which isn't far from the Rhode Island metro and an easy bike ride to downtown?

by Falls Church on Jan 24, 2012 2:23 pm • linkreport

I lived with roommates for 10 years after college in Ballston, VA Square and Tysons. Never paid over $800/mo for my share. That's along time but I had student loans to pay. I probably could have bought a crappy garden style condo renovation a couple miles from metro after 7 years but held out the extra 3 years until I could afford my own place in Chinatown.

Almost all my friends in the area had roommates the first 5-6 years after college. I honestly don't see a problem with this. Sure it's more ideal to live alone for most but a little short term sacrifice towards a mid-long term goal is good for the character.

This is why I roll my eyes at RedlineSOS or others that are single educated professionals bemoaning the lack of affordable downtown housing for them. Or their expectation that brand new steel & concrete hi-rises should be priced rock bottom rather than at luxury levels.

What I will applaud in this article is the mention of micro-apartments. Rather than bemoaning that a 25 year old college grad can't afford to live unsubsidized in a new 750sf condo in Chinatown it's better to ask the question can we build 300sf condos for them? Potentially the developer can still get a similar return on their investment but a new set of choices can be made available to the young professional.

by Paul S on Jan 24, 2012 2:26 pm • linkreport

All I see is the poster calling for enabling the MARKET driven process to go forward, by not artificially restricting multifamily development near metros.

Fair enough. But, I suspect the market failure is a temporary one in reaction to the housing glut that existed just a few years ago. There's already tons of new apartment construction coming on line and as many people predict, rental rates will be flat in 2012 in DC and will actually experience a small DECREASE in 2013.

by Falls Church on Jan 24, 2012 2:31 pm • linkreport

even a small decrease will leave such housing fairly costly here. Your suggestion re Brentwood is interesting - given that there has beend discussion on GGW about how to make the RI ave metro more accessible, and how to develop that area in such a way as to make it more walkable. I see the facts presented by the OP as making a case for using the provision of "20 something friendly new development" as a rationale for trying to plan for more walkability on that corridor, and make at least some modest investments in improved bike/ped access to the RI avenue metro. Thats a public policy intervention, beyond simply letting the market work (the market won't pay for the improved metro access) but its a far cry from a call for rent subsidies for 20 somethings.

To those who say that is similar in other expensive metro areas - my sense is that those other metro areas are also going to take steps to address any market failures in the way of providing new "20 something friendly" housing

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jan 24, 2012 2:38 pm • linkreport

It would seem that Dan sets up an impossible goal. The millenials want to live where they want to live, they don't want to pay too much and they don't want to live in cramped or substandard conditions. If we just relax the zoning codes, we can use our creativity to increase the supply of new units in desireable areas, which may even bring down costs.

Putting aside the unrealistic expectations here, the entire plan requires that present residents accept higher density, lower per-unit housing values and relaxation of the zoning code, solely for the beneift of people who don't live there now. That's what's known as a suicide pact for any elected official who embraces such a plan.

by Crickey7 on Jan 24, 2012 2:39 pm • linkreport

A question, particularly for younger 20-somethings: has the general upgrading of college dorm accommodations in the last 10-15 years (eg more "apartment-style" living, more singles) contributed to making group houses less desirable to young adults? I seem to gear more complaints from those in the group house lifestyle these days & wonder if that's why.

by Arl Fan on Jan 24, 2012 2:40 pm • linkreport

@Crikey
Does it not occur to anyone that this is how housing markets work? Desireable places are in greater demand, and accordingly cost more. Affordable housing is going to be in short supply where those conditions apply. Those who cannot afford the rents are going to have to make compromises, such as on size, safety, distance and/or other factors.

You're hitting the nail on the head ... and so is

@Freely Person graduates highschool / college, move into group house or tiny apt in a iffy and/or remote part of town.

A few years go by, person increases their purchasing power, moves out of group homes/iffy apt's and moves into larger apts in nicer parts of town.

A few more years and person is looking for their entry level purchase, condo/sfh. A few more years they are married with small childern or they are on the way. They now make enough money either alone of via combined income to support said family and make their next move to a larger / nicer place.

I think all generations have gone through this and experienced the exact same sentiments as expressed so well by Dan Reed. The only difference was (1) there were no blogs around to make one's complaints known so loudly and (2) expectations weren't generally as high as now.

To address that second part ... in a discussion the other day, someone mentioned to me that they'd read an article that 'since time immemorial' the few, wealthy, trendsetters had always been the ones 'setting the trends' which eventually filtered down to the rest of us ... all of us. Changed and modified as they filtered down to suit our needs and abilities to afford. The first part hasn't changed. The few and wealthy still set the trends, the second part has. Instant communication has all but eliminated the filtering. Now when Prince William and his new bride vacation on a private island in the Caribean we all know about it and all want to do the same. No more does a vacation on a private island slowly translate to the less wealthy taking a weekend break on a public lake a half hour away. Everyone now wants the vacation on the private beach. (This is just a simplistic example.)

The same can be said for housing options. Imagine a Washington less than a 100 years ago where true single family homes were almost non-existent. Most people lived in row houses where they'd use some of the rooms for theirselves and their children, keep some rooms for extended family members, and rent others to complete strangers. The concept of 'apartment' ... where people shared homes in 'quaters that were apart' was just taking hold. And even the wealthy, who everyone would want to emulate, didn't really live alone having servant quarters in their homes and sometimes even rooms (i.e. housing) for their employees ...

Our expectations have grown and continue to grown and the Web and the speed of communication have only quickened that pace.

So yes, I agree with Dan ... But I don't think this isn't anything that hasn't already occured many times infinitum since time began, but I also think expectation might have also maybe grown quicker than the economy to support them has ... at least for now.

by Lance on Jan 24, 2012 2:49 pm • linkreport

Build brand new apartments on prime real estate, and then subsidize them? Talk about a sense of entitlement. You're in your twenties. Live in a crappy studio apartment in a crap part of town, or in a crappy group house in a half-way crappy part of town. Then,(dare I say) after working a few years and saving money, you can start to have some of the nicer things that you EARNED.

by BS_Dawg on Jan 24, 2012 2:51 pm • linkreport

Where do you see an argument for wholly-subsidized housing?

Anyway, as a 20-something I don't know anyone in this region that is my age and lives by themself. None can afford it, thing is, even with roommates (or your parents, or the people who live upstairs while you rent out their basement) its still really hard to find housing that doesn't eat up close to half your monthly income. For a while we though you had really made it if you managed to find a place that allowed you to have your own room. As it is, I don't see how its then entitlement to want to live in an urban area. Or a safe one, who at any age wants to live in a place with crime?

by Canaan on Jan 24, 2012 3:06 pm • linkreport

No one wants to live in a place with crime. But you can, especially when you're young (I did). You learn that there is some randomness to it, but a lot of crime is in fact preventable. Good locks, knowing your neighbors, constant vigilance, not being flashy, and learning that stuff is less important than your life allow one to live in an area that is close to where you want to be, at the right price.

by Crickey7 on Jan 24, 2012 3:13 pm • linkreport

For those folks who continually like to invoke "height limitations" as a primary issue regarding housing prices, let me ask you this.

There were 800K people living in the District 60 years ago, 33% more than are currently living here now.

How did those poor 20 somethings manage to find affordable housing in this town when it had was 30% more crowded than it is today?

This is more about "entitlement" than availability.

There is a pecking order to these things and one 9unless they are lucky) has to work their way up that order. It has been the way of the world for 60 years.

by freely on Jan 24, 2012 3:14 pm • linkreport

"As it is, I don't see how its then entitlement to want to live in an urban area. Or a safe one, who at any age wants to live in a place with crime?"

You WANT something that you cannot afford, so you want the rest of society to figure out a way to suit what you WANT. That is the very epitome of entitlement. If you can't see that, then there is no point in even trying to argue with you.

by BS_Dawg on Jan 24, 2012 3:18 pm • linkreport

Since college, I've lived in group houses, apartments with roommates, and with my parents. I've had seventeen roommates in seven years, and it was great. I don't think people should stop living like that. But even group houses can be expensive in this area. Poking around Craigslist apartment ads, you can find that $1400/mo converted sunroom they mention in "Shit People in DC Say."

Y'all can talk about entitlement, but tell me: if you were 23 twenty or thirty years ago and living in the DC area, was it this expensive? When my mother was 23, she was a bank teller with a high school diploma and bought her own house. How many people in that situation could do that in this area today?

I don't know, it doesn't seem unfair to want a simple apartment in a safe, walkable neighborhood at a reasonable price. Making more of them isn't just good for 20-somethings. It benefits everyone who's in the market for housing and whose income is limited by age, experience, education, or just a crappy economy. And it's not just about "living downtown." If we have more good urban neighborhoods, the cost of housing in them will go down.

by dan reed! on Jan 24, 2012 3:21 pm • linkreport

A. I understand that most crimes aren't random, but its still silly that only one demographic of people want safe neighborhoods

B. in the 50's families were bigger, there were less restrictions on types of housing (which is what this post advocates) and housing compared to wages were lower. Real wages haven't gone up with the cost of living. Also there was a bigger area for housing since the downtown commercial area was smaller.

C. assuming a forty hour workweek, you still have to be making >14-15 dollars an hour for two people to even begin to approach rents anywhere at least in Va. (which considering people work, and go to school in va made it hard to try out some admittedly cheaper places in DC or md).

You see entitlement, I see it as things are actually tougher today than they were back in the 50's

by Canaan on Jan 24, 2012 3:22 pm • linkreport

Dan, I want it to rain Guinness tonight. Ain't gonna happen no matter how much I want it.

by Crickey7 on Jan 24, 2012 3:25 pm • linkreport

Freely -- when DC had a population close to 900,000 (that was the annual estimate for something like 1946, I did a blog entry on it), typical rowhouses had 4-9 people living in them. (Based on analysis of census enumeration sheets.) People don't live that way anymore. They may have to, but that's another issue. (E.g., my joke that polygamy will be legalized because you need at least 3 incomes to buy a house.)

I think that the city has roughly the same number of households as back at the peak, but far fewer residents per housing unit.

by Richard Layman on Jan 24, 2012 3:25 pm • linkreport

@Crickey7

Go outside after dinner and I'll make it rain for you. I assume you have some kind of attic or roofdeck where I can store my keg?

by dan reed! on Jan 24, 2012 3:27 pm • linkreport

"You WANT something that you cannot afford, so you want the rest of society to figure out a way to suit what you WANT. That is the very epitome of entitlement. If you can't see that, then there is no point in even trying to argue with you."

I have worked to make sure that I can live affordably. You don't know how hard I do/don't work. I spent weeks over the summer securing a place for me to live that meant I wouldn't be ruining my car with an hour plus commute (because my car died and I'm not buying another anytime soon)
It's not entitlement to see how things could be better.

by Canaan on Jan 24, 2012 3:28 pm • linkreport

"I don't know, it doesn't seem unfair to want a simple apartment in a safe, walkable neighborhood at a reasonable price. Making more of them isn't just good for 20-somethings. It benefits everyone who's in the market for housing and whose income is limited by age, experience, education, or just a crappy economy. And it's not just about "living downtown." If we have more good urban neighborhoods, the cost of housing in them will go down."

Making more livable neighborhoods seems like a great idea. Unfortunately, as you should be aware of, there are folks with a great resentment of young people, folks who are hyper vigilant for anything that looks like a claim for subsidy based on entitlement, and folks who decry young people for feeling entitled. Given that, to make the good point you do, its wise to be explicit that its not a call for subsidies. You might also be clearer that this is about MoCo (you seem to care about folks having the opportunity to start out on their own in MoCo, so that they are more likely to stay in MoCo - in which case crappy areas in DC and elsewhere aren't really an answer to the problem)

"There were 800K people living in the District 60 years ago, 33% more than are currently living here now.

How did those poor 20 somethings manage to find affordable housing in this town when it had was 30% more crowded than it is today?"

A lot of that is that families were larger - I dont think that many of the folks living in DC in 1951 WERE 20 something singles. The large numbers of apartment complexes in the inner suburbs dating to that era (when there wasnt that much suburban employment) would suggest to me that affordable housing in DC was an issue then too.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jan 24, 2012 3:29 pm • linkreport

@ FallsChurch

Because even Brentwood is not affordable. I live there, in a rent controlled building no less, and it's barely affordable given my income. (The fact that it is rent controlled is a blessing and a curse. Philosophically, I'm against it, but I couldn't afford to live anywhere in the District without it, and not many places outside of the District if you factor in transportation costs to that for housing. But I digress.)

The problem of supply is hitting around the country. Preferences do seem to be changing, and much of the housing stock that should be affordable has not been well-kept these past few decades. Preservation is expensive! (Though a better economic decision in the long-run, per a study I'm wrapping up right now, actually.)

All of this is exacerbated in DC because of historic and height limitations on development, restrictions that make the market un-desireable to developers/building managers (yes, like rent control and our strong tenant protections) and the fact that many of the young people here aren't really the revitalizing-a-decaying-neighborhood-type. (Stereotyping, yes, but look around. Read a local blog. Young folks here are afraid of shadows after dark.)

It's a mess, and we'd better start thinking about some solutions -- not just for Millennials, though they are going to really drive this problem home -- but also for immigrant families, the working poor and any other demographic that doesn't have much to spend on housing and even less on transportation to get to a low-paying job.

by Elle on Jan 24, 2012 3:32 pm • linkreport

Dan,

The example of your mother renting a crappy apt in Silver Spring 20 years ago answers your own question.

Adjusting for 20 years of inflation, that 685 dollar apt costs $1200 dollars a month now. As you acknowledged above, this didn't take into considering much nicer amenities which would add another few hundred dollars a month. So you yourself have admitted that all things being equal, it costs 1700 to get what very basic inflation tells us should cost $1,500.

Of course, we have completely ignored the effect of the DC Metro area population increasing 33% during that same time, 17% between 1990 and 2000.

So what is so difficult to understand?

I would have loved to live in Georgetown when I moved to DC years ago. I couldn't afford it, so I "gasp" lived where I could afford until my personal situation changed to the point that I could afford it.

Rinse and repeat for millions of other 20 somethings in DC over the past few decades.

by freely on Jan 24, 2012 3:34 pm • linkreport

"Of course, we have completely ignored the effect of the DC Metro area population increasing 33% during that same time, 17% between 1990 and 2000."

indeed. and yet some people think that the central jurisdictions (not just DC, but Arlington, and alexandria) should not be more densely built than they were in 1990 - or even 1960. Bizarre, I think.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jan 24, 2012 3:38 pm • linkreport

Except there is a breaking point if you don't add density. When I was a bank teller and my then fiance and I had an absolute upper limit of 1200 for rent we were very limited unless one or both of us were willing to spend well more than an hour in our cars each way to work and if one of our cars had broken down we would have been well up a creek. Again it's not entitlement to point out things are hard.

Also its fun to hear people complaining about how I should stop pointing out that housing is expensive.

by Canaan on Jan 24, 2012 3:40 pm • linkreport

"and the fact that many of the young people here aren't really the revitalizing-a-decaying-neighborhood-type. (Stereotyping, yes, but look around. Read a local blog. Young folks here are afraid of shadows after dark.)"

hmmm. Seems to me in the last few years, young people have moved into bloomingdale, eckington, all the edges of capital hill, and beyond. And into Del Ray, arlandria, SOUTH arlington, silver spring, wheaton, and hyattsville. And now, Anacostia. AFAICT folks around here are just as eager to move/renovate/gentrify as anywhere else. The RE market reflects this, with prices high for anywhere with even a hint of transition.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jan 24, 2012 3:43 pm • linkreport

@freely

It's not just about not living in the toniest section of town. The fair market rent in the DC metro area for a one bedroom apartment is $12,289. That means you need to be making more than $50,000 a year for it to be affordable. For a two-bedroom, you have to make nearly $60,000.

Sure, there are some cheaper apartments, and many that are more expensive. (FMR is set by HUD for voucher-related purposes, for those who might not be in the business.)

To me, these numbers along demonstrate we have an affordability problem in this city. Forgetting the young professionals for a moment, think about the secretaries, security guards, janitors and wait staff who have to support families on wages that I am quite sure are well below $50,000 a year. You can move them out of the metro area, but then they have to own a car (with insurance), pay for gas, and spend additional hours of their time getting to work. (Which ends up, in several estimates from the Center for Neighborhood Technology, no longer an affordable housing option.)

We need affordable housing options, and the problem is only going to get worse as demand increases from the Millennial generation.

by Elle on Jan 24, 2012 3:45 pm • linkreport

@ AWalkerintheCity

Sorry -- my tongue got stuck in my cheek a bit there. You're right in that change and transition IS happening. I guess my point was that developers don't seem to be responding to that, or at least the lag is very great. From talking to some of them, it's because they don't perceive much of a demand for housing in "outlying" areas: Brentwood, Brookland and further afield.

by Elle on Jan 24, 2012 3:48 pm • linkreport

Demand in terms of rental, I suppose I should say.

Key difference, that.

by Elle on Jan 24, 2012 3:54 pm • linkreport

in brookland there are a couple of new developments proposed/planned (underway?) on the limited space suitable for redevelopment - and those proposals have been somewhat controversial.

Fact is A. development in urban areas isnt easy - to some extent thats the natural difficulty of a dense area, and to some extent its local opposition. B. There are a finite number of areas with good metro access - see again the discussions about the RI avenue metro (from where you live, you probably know more about it than I do)

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jan 24, 2012 3:57 pm • linkreport

Upon further reflection, the reason this article is generating so much controversy is the mis-named title. It should really be called "Increasing Density Help a City Prosper". And then the article could go on to say that one of the benefits of increasing the supply of housing near transit and encouraging smaller units/houses is improving affordability (for everyone, not just millenials). It's also worth pointing out that millenials, with their lack of children and low use of social services, often pay more in taxes than they use in services, so it's worth crafting policies that encourage them.

The existing title makes it sound like we need to take action to cater to over-priveleged young people who want things handed to them -- when that's not what the article is about at all.

by Falls Church on Jan 24, 2012 3:58 pm • linkreport

The very first comment by "Thinkin' Reader" cracked me up. I couldn't disagree more. When I was in my 20s I moved out to Rockville for a time, and moved back into the city in my 30s, biking to work now in my 40s, planning to do so as long as I can!

by MrTinDC on Jan 24, 2012 3:58 pm • linkreport

You want to see the joy of affordable housing in MoCo?
Go to Montgomery Village in Gaithersburg or parts of Germantown/Silver Spring where the 7-11 flash mobs occur and tell me if you want more affordable housing through out the county. Yes young professionals need affordable housing but this housing also attract alot of dead beats and other social ills that drag down a area. PG county has some of the most affordable housing stock in area and look how that is working out for that county. I don't think MoCo should be rushing to join them.

by Sam on Jan 24, 2012 4:00 pm • linkreport

Elle,

You are just fundamentally not getting it.

For you to hang your hat on some meaningless metric publish by HUD that doesn't pertain to anything is worthless.

What you are saying is that you only want to spend 24% of your gross income on housing.

Yeah, well I only want to spend 5% of my gross income on housing. Where are the public subsidies to build me a mcmansion where I only have to pay %1,000 bucks a month to rent?

Ask anyone reading this thread and you will find tons of people who spent 30-40 and 50% of their income out of college renting an apt. This required modifications to their lives. They couldn't own a car, couldn't hit the bars 3 nights a week etc, didn't take a vacation for 4 years. This is how it is in urban environments and how it has been for 60 years.

How do you think 20 somethings live in NYC, Boston, LA, SF, Chicago?

Very few of us have the means in our 20's to live the lifestyle we wish, but it certainly isn't the taxpayer responsibility to subsidize your preferred lifestyle just because you only happen to make "X" dollars, or only "want" to spend 24% of your income on housing.

by freely on Jan 24, 2012 4:02 pm • linkreport

Want to live in a cool neighborhood and can't afford the rent? Two words: Group House. That's how we did it. We also lived on the fringes - U St. before it had cache - or Capital Hill before H St. blew up, 14th St. before Whole Foods...

by Dave on Jan 24, 2012 4:03 pm • linkreport

I kind of agree with others here who think that there's a sense of entitlement in the article. I don't think it's unfair to desire more affordable housing. The problem here is that the article chooses to focus on millenials in the DC area. Those individuals are more likely than not to be college educated. That in itself means that they're upwardly mobile.

That's why I don't see much sense in any targeted policy that seeks to help to alleviate housing costs for millenials because we have the means to eventually work our way through this.

As an aside, and Arl Fan brought this up, I can't believe the rent that some YP's actually pay. When I first moved here in 2010 I found a nice, but old, one bedroom garden condo to rent about a mile from Ballston for $1100. It didn't have brand new fixtures, 11 foot ceilings or new wood flooring, but it was in a good location and the price was right. There's plenty of deals out there, you just have to work craigslist.

by Fitz on Jan 24, 2012 4:05 pm • linkreport

I think it's healthy to point out that we have an affordability problem (not the first time that has happened here, BTW). I think Dan's ideas are creative and have considerable merit. The issues are: (1) there is no magic bullet that would fix the problem (without subsidy); and (2) people who live in many of those areas don't want higher densities and they sure don't want lower housing prices in their neighborhood that benefit others at their expense.

You millenials have an PR issue in asking that the current system be changed for your benefit. One suspects that when you hit your next stage in life, you'll be on the front lines of the opposition to the next generation's demands for change.

by Crickey7 on Jan 24, 2012 4:08 pm • linkreport

@freely

I fundamentally DO get it.

First of all, FMR is calculated at either 50 or 40 percent of the area median rent, so it's not arbitrary. In fact it's a fairly good metric for figuring out how expensive a given metro is.

Secondly, by my calculations one (including myself) should not spend more than 30% on housing. Many economists and policy professionals agree with me on this.

Because I'm reading at least part of your criticism as of my personal choices, let me tell you that I spend 35 percent of my income on housing (in a not-so-great neighborhood), take my lunch every day (and it's not caviar by a long shot), eat out three times a month and go to bars about the same. It's not exactly sacrificing, but it is living within my means.

I'm not asking for handouts for people like myself. I am asking that we have regulations on construction, renting and otherwise preserving housing stock that allow for affordable housing to a variety of income groups. I don't think that's unreasonable.

(By the way, I have also been a young professional in at least two of they cities you named. In case you were wondering. And this is a problem that is not as severe in those places, but it's still a problem.)

by Elle on Jan 24, 2012 4:11 pm • linkreport

How do you think 20 somethings live in NYC, Boston, LA, SF, Chicago?

AFAICT those cities, to keep competitive, are trying to create more affordable housing, including by encouraging development, improving walkability/bike access, and improving transit.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jan 24, 2012 4:17 pm • linkreport

I don't see why Millenials should be prioritized over anyone else for affordable housing.

Rather, they should move to new areas of town and get busy re-vitalizing them with their youthful energy and community spirit.

I don't see why millenials should be tasked with moving into dilapidated or blighted areas of town simply because they are perceived to have energy and community spirit? Perhaps those are the exact reasons why they should be prioritized over other groups for in-demand housing.

by Anonymouse on Jan 24, 2012 4:19 pm • linkreport

"You millenials have an PR issue in asking that the current system be changed for your benefit. One suspects that when you hit your next stage in life, you'll be on the front lines of the opposition to the next generation's demands for change."

I am 50 yo, and I support Dan's POV - maybe having a student in college impacts my POV ;) I think very few 30 40 or 50 somethings really want to stop high density development - thats a concern mostly for the small minority of folks who LIVE in the areas impacted by high density development.

Im not sure what the "current system" is. If theres a system where neighborhood residents get to decide on zoning decisions in any jurisdiction around here (vs the city/county zoning board and local govt) I am not aware of it.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jan 24, 2012 4:22 pm • linkreport

@freely-re: the 1992 rent in 2012 dollars. An important factor in that equation you left off is that real wages for someone like Dans mom have decreased in the past 20 years, not even stayed up w/ inflation.

Yes milenials. It was easier 20 years ago. It was easier 10 years ago. even now as prices are good the market has changed such that you need 20% to get a loan. That was not true 10 years ago. E.G my first property was purchased 11 years ago w/ 10% down. It's a 450sqft studio condo in a safe NW neighborhood 4 blocks to metro etc. etc. It was <100k then. Even in this down market a place like that in that location will not go for <100k now, and doubtful for <20%down on a loan for a 1st time buyer.

Its harder now to buy than just 10 years ago.

by Tina on Jan 24, 2012 4:24 pm • linkreport

^"millennials"

by Tina on Jan 24, 2012 4:24 pm • linkreport

@AWalker


How do you think 20 somethings live in NYC, Boston, LA, SF, Chicago?

They make the big bucks or leave, LOL!

by Fitz on Jan 24, 2012 4:26 pm • linkreport

I want to turn the conversation back around to how these units are marketed. These units are marketed for "20-something" singles or just singles period with professional jobs. Yet, instead of pricing at the level these people can afford, they are priced far higher than their target demographic. Also, they are built in a way that families living in them are almost uncomfortable. Yet, you have to have multiple incomes or people to live there. IMO, if they were luxury apartments, they would only house the number of people dictated by the bedrooms(with the exception of a couple in a one bedroom and such).

by Kristen on Jan 24, 2012 4:30 pm • linkreport

@Falls Church

The existing title makes it sound like we need to take action to cater to over-priveleged young people who want things handed to them -- when that's not what the article is about at all.

Agreed. I think the complaints about entitled whining are fair, but they don't address the substance of Dan's point - that we need more housing in this region. Whether we need it for millenials or for secretaries is largely irrelevant, the point is that the high housing costs here are a drag on the overall productivity of the region.

It's unfortunate that the moralizing has missed the core economic points that Dan's making here.

The same logic that Ryan Avent expresses in this article about Silicon Valley are applicable to the greater DC region:
http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2011/09/13/how-home-prices-helped-kill-the-first-tech-boom/

During one of the great innovative periods in America’s recent history, high housing costs poured a bucket of cold water on the nation’s entrepreneurial capacity. That’s a problem. And what’s especially troubling about this example is that it wasn’t an isolated incident. On the contrary, the same forces that drove workers away from Silicon Valley during the tech boom appear to operate in a systematic fashion, undermining the productive potential of America’s great cities and holding back the country’s job creation machine. For two decades now, the country’s internal migration has amounted to a move away from productivity, and toward stagnation.

Reasonably affordable housing is critical to the economic performance of the region. This is why Dan's argument is important. It's unfortunate that commenters have focused on the entitlement of millenials instead.

by Alex B. on Jan 24, 2012 4:36 pm • linkreport

I moved to the DC area in 1998. I was 25 (I went to grad school elsewhere and moved to DC after), I always had roommates before moving to DC and when I got here I had a roommate until I was 28 and could afford my own 1 bedroom in Arlington in an old condo about 10 min walk from the Metro. I bought that 1 bedroom for $90K in 2001.

5 years later, I sold it for $270K, which gave me enough of a down payment to upgrade to one of the newer condos that were built during the housing bubble right near the Metro. My 1 bedroom condo has not depriciated at all (it's actually gone up in price!) since then.

But I was lucky. I think what Dan and other millenials might be saying is that, unlike my fellow Gen-Xers, the millenials missed that 5-10 yr window when it was cheap to buy in Arlington/DC area and now they have been priced out of the market.

Salaries have gone up in DC, but they haven't kept up at all with the price of living, especially housing.

So I do feel for those in their 20s now. If I was arriving to DC today, I don't think I could make ends meet as well, I'd probably need to have 2-3 roomies (versus just the 1 I had) and would probably not be able to enter the housing market as a buyer at all near a Metro station.

So Dan has a very good point--it has become a lot harder for this generation than it was for mine. And I don't begrudge his points, not do I think he's entitled for making those points. It's a tough economic world there, compared to 10-15 years ago.

by LuvDusty on Jan 24, 2012 4:37 pm • linkreport

@Tina,

"...real wages for someone like Dans mom have decreased in the past 20 years" -

Not in the DC Metro they haven't. The DC Metro is now the richest in the nation 2 years running based on household income. It wasn't even in the top 5 20 years ago.

And Tina, lost of people are still able to buy homes for 5% down. I know 2 "kids" (28 and 30) who just bought a half million dollar condo for 4% down.

While the metric of money lending have changed in the past couple of years loans for those with less than 20% down are still readily available. The primary differnece they have to have a proven income history and credit to back it.

Crickey is right. The millenials have a PR problem but DC doesn't have a housing issue worse than any other of the nations top 5 metros.

by freely on Jan 24, 2012 4:39 pm • linkreport

@Kristen,

Hasn't that demographic shown, through their actions, that they're willing to pay those prices?

I'm not trying to justify their position, I'm just telling you what I observe. Personally I'm puzzled as to why so many yuppies pay ridiculously high rents when there's plenty of more affordable options near by. They may not have all the brand new fixtures or be within a 5 minute walk to the metro, but they're certainly livable.

by Fitz on Jan 24, 2012 4:40 pm • linkreport

One way to significantly increase the supply of housing units is to fix the biggest obstacle to increasing supply: height limits. They need to be modified.

When is this region (not just DC) going to finally outgrow its aversion to tall buildings? A 10-story building is NOT a "tower".

by ceefer66 on Jan 24, 2012 4:41 pm • linkreport

@Fitz-I don't think so. Like Tina said, just 10-15 years ago, people could buy into the close in suburban markets, now rent on the Metro lines in certain areas is off the charts. The only thing that saves the edges of Green and Yellow from those fates is the perception of crime and problems.

Also, I'm in NC, looking to move and just puzzled still. In Raleigh and Durham we have a few high end rentals, but that high end is still largely under $2000( and that's for a one bedroom in our club districts). This is a growing area for jobs that continuously gets on best of lists and has a lot of academic capital.

From the outside looking in, as well as what I have experienced visiting a lot of areas in the District and surrounding areas is an over-hyped market.

by Kristen on Jan 24, 2012 4:45 pm • linkreport

@freely

The millenials have a PR problem but DC doesn't have a housing issue worse than any other of the nations top 5 metros.

That's not exactly a ringing endorsement. The housing cost issues are the same in the Bay Area, New York, LA, etc.

"Our housing is just as unaffordable as those guys" isn't exactly a convincing argument that the problem doesn't exist. Might want to re-phrase that argument.

by Alex B. on Jan 24, 2012 4:46 pm • linkreport

@Freely re: loans. ok loans are avialable w/ <20% down. Point is a small place for <100k in a safe desireable 'hood was available 10 years ago but not now.
Re: wages and real income (what you can get for a dollar) no, for someone like Dans mom (HS diplom no college) and everyone else earning a wage, purchasing power/ standard of living/ whatever you want to call it has gone down relative to dollars.

by Tina on Jan 24, 2012 4:49 pm • linkreport

"The millenials have a PR problem but DC doesn't have a housing issue worse than any other of the nations top 5 metros"

Its also not as bad as in Tokyo or Hong Kong.

"Like Tina said, just 10-15 years ago, people could buy into the close in suburban markets, now rent on the Metro lines in certain areas is off the charts."

indeed, its very high in north arlington or old town. There are (not very large) townhouses selling over 500k near the Vienna metro. about the only "affordable" metro stations left in NoVa are Huntington and Van Dorn, neither of which stands out for walkability. Even a place like Shirlington, without a metro (but with good bus service, and walkability) is quite expensive.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jan 24, 2012 4:51 pm • linkreport

@Tina

I should point out (in case she ever stumbles on this) that my mother now has several degrees and a career as a real estate agent by day/marriage counselor by night and is a homeowner to boot.

@Alex B., WalkerInTheCity

I think I could've done a better job with the headline. I actually sat on this post for a long time before I posted it, thinking about how I wanted to frame the issue (and anticipating the "entitlement" argument I got after my last post on Millennials two years ago). I'm glad to see that y'all appreciate where I'm coming from.

I honestly don't have a problem with living with others/living in a less-central neighborhood/not having the latest amenities, though I don't really want to compromise on living in a place where I don't have to drive, both to save money and for health reasons. And I hope that when I return to the DC area, I can do this on whatever salary I'm lucky enough to get.

by dan reed! on Jan 24, 2012 4:56 pm • linkreport

There seem to be a lot of non-Millennials who think that our generation is fine and we're just demanding that society conform to our lifestyles. Frankly, I don't think these folks get it.

Yes, many Millennials in the DC are are college-educated, but we're also carrying a substantial amount of debt, which will eat away at our incomes likely for the rest of our working lives and affects our upward mobility. College costs ballooned in the past 10 or so years and we were expected to attend school or be relegated to being trash collectors. Also, many of us don't have jobs - unemployment among Millennials sits around 45%. (source: http://www.npr.org/2011/11/12/142274437/educated-and-jobless-whats-next-for-millenials) Why do you think the Occupy movement is dominated by people under the age of 30?

Most Millennials I know are satisfied with a small studio/group house and a bike or bus pass... if that's selfish then perhaps we should further discuss the avarice of living in the suburbs or owning a car...

by John Marzabadi on Jan 24, 2012 4:58 pm • linkreport

@Dan Reed-@Tina
I should point out (in case she ever stumbles on this) that my mother now has several degrees and a career as a real estate agent by day/marriage counselor by night and is a homeowner to boot.
. Yes, its good (for you) that you point that out. To clarify I meant to compare moms situation in 1990, her income and standard of living then, to someone today in a similar situation wrt income.

by Tina on Jan 24, 2012 5:10 pm • linkreport

AlexB,

Really?

What is it that the millenials expect? Raleigh NC prices for a Clarendon location?

How is Dan's primary complaint any different from any 20 something wanting to live in trendy places in any urban market for the past half century?

It isn't yet, all those millions upon millions of people (myself included) managed to live where we could afford, and not demand taxpayer involvment.

Really folks, I am kinda shocked that so few people of the supposed in-the-know blogger set "get it".

Ok, here we go.

DC is not only the richest metro in the nation with average 84K household incomes, but is also the "smartest" in the nation with both more undergraduate and graduate college degrees per capita than anywhere in the nation.

On top of that we have the DC Metro as the current jobs mecca of the nation with a a 5.4% unemployment rate; AND

the population has grown 33% in the past 20 years, the District alone arrested 30 years of decreasing population and actually increased the population 8% in 11 years.

None of this was true 20 years ago.

And Tina,

Where could you buy a "small place for <100k in a safe desireable 'hood" in DC?

by freely on Jan 24, 2012 5:11 pm • linkreport

What's wrong with simply making do with what you can afford (even if that means living at home a little longer), working hard to move up in your chosen field, saving your money, THEN living "better" when you can afford it?

It's called "deferred gratification" - a big part of growing up. We don't all start out with a fly crib and a sharp ride, hanging out in all the hip bars and clubs impressing the ladies. That takes time.

by ceefer66 on Jan 24, 2012 5:12 pm • linkreport

A few comments from a European perspective:

- No need for all new condos 2 be 1 bedroom 1 bathroom or 2 bedrooms - 2 bathrooms or 3 bedrooms - 2 bathrooms. 1 bathroom is perfectly acceptable
- No need for gigantic bed rooms. 150 - 200 square foot is way more than enough
- no need for a receptionist
- no need for marble, granit, fitness centers or swimming pools

If developers thought small, beautiful and durable I reckon apartments could be 20 - 30% less expensive than they are today whilst bringing more profit over the long term.

by Vincent on Jan 24, 2012 5:18 pm • linkreport

"It isn't yet, all those millions upon millions of people (myself included) managed to live where we could afford, and not demand taxpayer involvment."

for the umpteenth time, what tax payer involvement did Dan R ask for? Are you seriously against say, the tax payer involvement in making our metro stations more walkable so that they are more likely to generate the kinds of areas in demand?

"What's wrong with simply making do with what you can afford (even if that means living at home a little longer), "

That doesn't work so well if you are making your career in DC, and home is in Minneapolis, say.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jan 24, 2012 5:18 pm • linkreport

"What is it that the millenials expect? Raleigh NC prices for a Clarendon location?"

Shirlington prices for a shirlington location instead of almost Clarendon prices for a shirlington location?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jan 24, 2012 5:20 pm • linkreport

@freely

It's simple - you've outlined the demand. Supply has not kept up, and the prices are unaffordable to those either lower in the economic spectrum or for those who wish to enter the greater DC workforce.

This unaffordability is not just some complaint, it's a real deadweight loss for the greater DC economy.

Dan's complaint has nothing to do with trendiness. It has to do with basic accessibility.

The region is failing to provide that at a reasonable price point, and that has some real economic consequences. Do you disagree? Or would you rather stand on your moral high horse and brag about people living within their means?

by Alex B. on Jan 24, 2012 5:20 pm • linkreport

@freely, Where could you buy a "small place for <100k in a safe desireable 'hood" in DC?

Are you really asking? in 20008 zipcode.

by Tina on Jan 24, 2012 5:34 pm • linkreport

....impressing the ladies. That takes time.
for some the time needed is infinite...

by Tina on Jan 24, 2012 5:36 pm • linkreport

More importantly, the entitlement of an older generation has put up barriers, i.e. shrink-to-fit zoning, that artificially restricts the delivery of supply, to maintain their particular taste for what a neighborhood is.

I don't care about entitlement. I don't see why we see affordability being an onerous demand when we've made it hard to make it affordable.

by Neil Flanagan on Jan 24, 2012 5:39 pm • linkreport

@Freely

Ok, normally I don't get involved with trolls like this, but since you opened the gates with "Really folks, I am kinda shocked that so few people of the supposed in-the-know blogger set "get it"." so here we go...

First of all you claim to have "managed to live where we could afford, and not demand taxpayer involvment [sic]." So I'm assuming you lived in a cave, or a box by the river? For someone that wants to cast aspersions regarding how well-informed the fans of this blog are, it's pretty telling that you neglected to factor in all the myriad subsidies that are applied by all levels of government to housing and transportation - especially the car-oriented suburbs, which I am 100% sure you live in. It's as if you've never even been on this site till today.

Secondly,you put forward the claim that "DC is not only the richest metro in the nation with average 84K household incomes, but is also the "smartest" in the nation with both more undergraduate and graduate college degrees per capita than anywhere in the nation." Anybody who reads this blog or is actually well-informed (and not just thinking of themselves that way) would know that the average household income is an awful yardstick - median income would be better, or finding the most common set of incomes. If there's a million people making $1, and one person making a million dollars, that would skew the average and make each individual look as if they are making far more than they actually are - that's called unequal wealth distribution, and believe it or not, it exists in America too - horrors! About the degree thing - guess what your college degree gets you these days? $35,000, tops. You need a masters, and again, just because we have the most masters or undergrad degrees per capita doesn't translate into even a plurality of folks in the area having said degrees.

As for the population increase, is that supposed to lower rents/housing prices? Because I'm pretty sure that would be called "demand" and it's exacerbating the problem that you don't see.

So yes, it's possible to have the highest average household income, and the most degrees per capita, and more people, while having the housing situation be difficult in our area for all "Millennials" (which is, btw, a terrible name for a generation).

But whatever, you're probably one of those Baby Boomer PR/Association guys on K St totally out of touch with reality - I'll take my entitled generation over your Fire-Sale-Of-America generation any day, thank you very much. I'm so sick and tired of you all bandying about the "entitlement" schtick when our country in being run by the Baby Boomers into the ground. You know what I feel entitled to? A functioning economy.

Also, spell check exists for a reason. Use it.

by Matt B on Jan 24, 2012 5:55 pm • linkreport

The area has been losing its children for a long time, because of cost and this doesn't seem to have alarmed anyone, anymore than the teachers, nurses, and cops being pushed further and further out. I have relatives whose adult children (raised in the Kensington area) settled in rural New England. I have grad school friends from here who simply could not afford to come back---college professors, health care professionals, etc. people starting with low incomes that were destined to get better and had grown-up in relatively modest places like Wheaton & Silver Spring. Most of them got the DC chips off their shoulders and built nice lives in unglamorous parts of the Midwest. It's ironic that those of us who wound up here never had DC as a first choice.

I doubt that you can get edgy housing concepts to work in MoCo or any suburb here. Affordable housing anything that doesn't seem middle class won't work. Fundamentally, this is a very bourgeois place. Virginia, which is more subject to boom and bust in the property has had most of its bust in far off suburbs, so simply building more high end stuff may not work that well. The equivalent of group houses in the 'burbs seem to be places like Summit Towers which I understand are poorly maintained (and have been for years), but have 2-3 bedroom apartments at affordable prices. There are rentals in older close-in areas that look to be group houses, but their locations and number seem limited.

A more obvious solution would be for younger people to gravitate to unglamorous close-in areas like the Hollywood section of College Park (which seems to have a lot of rental housing) or to make Baltimore DC's equivalent of what New Yorkers have done in Philadelphia (which seems to be the new Brooklyn or Jersey City).

by Rich on Jan 24, 2012 6:06 pm • linkreport

Moralizing about a problem that today's 20-somethings have that you didn't through no fault of their own isn't going to solve a problem.

Dan is exactly right. I got very lucky as I'm at the very leading edge of the millenials (age 30). I was looking for a group house back in fall 2006. It was just as bad as the Washington Post writer describes. I only wanted one thing: walking distance to a Metro station in DC or MD. What a mess. Crazy expensive and douchey open house processes. I got super-lucky that I saw a Craigslist ad for a newly-purchsed house in Wheaton. Even though I'm not originally from the area (I moved here for college at UMD) I knew about Wheaton and that the house was a 15 minute walk from the Metro. I lived there for four years. Heck, living there is what got me interested in being a GGW contributor and got me involved with ACT.

Anyway, when I was buying a condo in Silver Spring last year, I got curious and looked up rentals (which eventually led to my last post). I realized how lucky I was to find Wheaton in 2006 before it became a focus for revitalization plans. I'm a lucky homeowner by sheer luck of what year I was born. That's not fair and we need more housing so other people who work hard and play by the rules can also have the chances I did.

Shame on those of you who wish to prevent the next generation from getting their chance, despite doing everything you asked of them just so you can feel superior and wag your little finger.

by Cavan on Jan 24, 2012 6:43 pm • linkreport

Great article and comments. A couple of thoughts:

1) People often have to sacrifice to get what they want. I cringe when my tenants tell me they are having financial problems via an email with a "sent from my iphone" tagline. Or when my broke coworkers buy mac computers. You have to save and invest to get wealth. Although I agree that the Boomers are using up and wasting so much and don't want to pay for anything.

2) There is such a disconnect with prices sometimes. CHOTR is constantly linking to condos for 45 or 55k. That is in DC proper, in an up and coming neighborhood, not far from downtown. There is a metro station and buses will take you wherever. Why aren't these type of housing options (or affordable apartments EOTR) mentioned more?

by H Street Landlord on Jan 24, 2012 8:11 pm • linkreport

If Millenials voted at the same rate as senior citizens, you can bet dollars to donuts that politicians would jerry-rig some young adult housing subsidy, regardless of their principles for or against market solutions.

by empc on Jan 24, 2012 8:12 pm • linkreport

The affordable housing crisis is a wash. There are townhomes for sale for $100K and condos for sale for less than $50K in desireable areas throughout Montgomery County. If you cant afford live in high end business districts like Silver Spring and Bethesda you have to look for more affordable options. Montgomery Village is primed to become a haven for young professionals, if they are willing to move there. Unfortunately the Housing Opportunities Commission has illegally concentrated affordable housing vouchers in the Village, forcng out market rate tenants and leading to quality of life concerns. If HOC would stop preferentially treating certain demographic groups and treat young professionals equally, you would see people flocking to Montgomery Village and other cheaper locales.

by Cyrus on Jan 24, 2012 9:52 pm • linkreport

@Cyrus

Montgomery Village isn't exactly a transit-oriented location, now is it?

Sprawl development on the fringe is not a good affordable housing strategy.

by Alex B. on Jan 24, 2012 10:00 pm • linkreport

People stay single longer. It used to be that you could get a place to live because you had two incomes. Now if you want "your own place" it's on one income. If you are a couple there are plenty of places you can find an apartment for $1500 or less. Not in new construction for sure.

If you are young, live in a group situation. Get your friends, find cool people, live together. It works for tons of people.

Driving is much more expensive than it was 10 years ago. Young people want to live in transit-accessible neighborhoods, with things you can walk to. Anything. Those places with $50K condos don't have ANYTHING. No grocery, no restaurant (they have crappy subs/chinese/etc places), no bar.

DC is not building enough housing to keep up with demand, period.

by MLD on Jan 24, 2012 10:37 pm • linkreport

MLD - Congress Heights is a 5 min bus ride from two places in Anacostia (UnionTown, Big Chair Coffee) and a 15 min bus ride from Barrack's Row. Hardly in the middle of nowhere.

Not too mention where the metro will take you...

by H Street Landlord on Jan 24, 2012 10:52 pm • linkreport

Dan, I recently experienced this period in my own life, and am now a married homeowner & father. I disagree that the solution is more small houses, in fact the best deals I ever had were in large, former mansions or large homes that were rough around the edges and had a person living in roughly every bedroom (or sometimes offices and other space). My first spot out of college was a large-ish home in the urban-burbs of L.A. I rented out the office for about $350 a month, and the other four bedrooms were rented out for more by my friends. Living this way made me want to work really hard so I could afford a place of my own where I wouldn't have to deal with all their drama and nonsense.

by Will on Jan 24, 2012 11:37 pm • linkreport

During one of the great innovative periods in America’s recent history, high housing costs poured a bucket of cold water on the nation’s entrepreneurial capacity. That’s a problem. And what’s especially troubling about this example is that it wasn’t an isolated incident. On the contrary, the same forces that drove workers away from Silicon Valley during the tech boom appear to operate in a systematic fashion, undermining the productive potential of America’s great cities and holding back the country’s job creation machine. For two decades now, the country’s internal migration has amounted to a move away from productivity, and toward stagnation.

What bunk. What's missing is 'the rest of the story'. I was one of those workers driven away from the Bay area by high housing prices. After college I'd relocated to the golden mecca for what seemed a reasonable salary ... until I started looking for places to rent there. I stayed a year, but in the end I couldn't understand why I was paying 4 times more for my tiny studio in the Marina than the long time renters who had the penthouse which was not only 4 times larger than my place but had a lawn and a view of the bay ... and was rented by a wealthy retired doctor and his wife who'd been there some 20 years. (A manifestation of the perverse problems with rent control.) Long story short, when the opportunity arose I came back to the east coast where the housing was much cheaper (especially in the then much malaigned District) and helped contribute to the then nascent IT industry here ... AND to a rejuvenation of the District ...which is now nearly as expensive as the Bay Area I left.

Incentives for labor to move around and 'share the wealth' are what in the end make for stronger all around economies spread amongst many cities, states, and even countries. And it's not a bad thing. Imagine if all the opportunities only existed in one very dense place. Imagine NYC. And look at the cost of housing there. No, sprawl is a good thing ... a VERY good thing.

by Lance on Jan 25, 2012 12:45 am • linkreport

The only way this is a new issue is the unprecedented sense of entitlement Millenials bring to the table. Young people have always struggled with housing, and usually ended up settling for less than ideal conditions. But it usually works out in the end.

by BoutrousBoutros on Jan 25, 2012 7:07 am • linkreport

As long as there is a demand, rents will continue to rise. Move to Baltimore. It is cheaper, the housing is plentiful and the youth run free.

by nisaco on Jan 25, 2012 8:15 am • linkreport

Dear Dan,

Why make a generational claim about an issue that affects us all. I've lived in Silver Spring for 8 of the last 12 years. Always paying well over 40% of my income for a place near a Metro where I would have less than an hour commute to my job at the Capitol and now at a federal agency downtown.

When I moved back here in 2008, after 3 years of law school, I was making $60K pre-tax as a GS-11 attorney. I'm now a GS-13 and I can still barely make ends meet, with student loans and rent that has increased from $1200 to $1400 in the last two years.

This entire region needs to quit bleeding federal employees of their meager salaries. From rent to the expiration of the transit subsidy...we are all barely making ends meet. And that's the fault of the our local elected officials for failing to provide rent caps. And it's the fault of Congress for the height act, for failing to invest properly in the regions transit systems, but moreover for an absurdly low locality pay.

This isn't generational. This is across the board failure of governance.

by Redline SOS on Jan 25, 2012 8:24 am • linkreport

Again, this isn't about moving in with your parents, or having multiple roommates because most people already do that and it's still very expensive.

by Canaan on Jan 25, 2012 8:51 am • linkreport

@Alex B wrote:


Reasonably affordable housing is critical to the economic performance of the region. This is why Dan's argument is important. It's unfortunate that commenters have focused on the entitlement of millenials instead.
...
Dan's complaint has nothing to do with trendiness. It has to do with basic accessibility.

The region is failing to provide that at a reasonable price point, and that has some real economic consequences. Do you disagree? Or would you rather stand on your moral high horse and brag about people living within their means?

Just wanted to highlight this point. There's a lot of potential affordable housing in DC and close-in. Currently the lion's share of that capacity is going towards housing our region's poorest residents. Those are the people that our workforce (e.g. police, firefighters, etc...) and Millennials are competing against.

Obviously there's a huge social (and moral) good generated by such policies. But there's also a high social cost. Highly subsidized housing for the poor prices out nurses, firefighters, police, and early-career professionals. The concentration of poverty makes those neighborhoods dangerous and dilapidated. So through a combination of pricing inflation and social factors, potential lower middle-class residents are forced to live far, far outside the productive urban core.

One final point: the fact that the US has a long history of concentrating the poorest of the poor in dense urban environments has thoroughly discredited the phrase "affordable housing" among the general public. When professional urban planning types say "affordable housing" I'm not sure anyone else really knows what they're talking about. "Smaller, denser units"? "Housing that's within reach of a median wage-earner"? "Housing for poor people?"

One thing that's clear is that when the public hears the term "affordable housing", to them it means "the projects". "Cabrini Green". I think any successful advocacy of "affordable housing" needs to understand the legitimate reasons why that sentiment exists. As long as there are dense concentrations of poverty, voters and the people they elect are going to be highly skeptical of anything that might begin the slow spiral down towards slumdom. Removing height restrictions might be a necessary step to addressing the problem, but as long as existing neighbors see such places as potential slum-makers, tweaking policy isn't going to be sufficient.

by oboe on Jan 25, 2012 9:18 am • linkreport

@Redline, a step 5 GS-13 (mid-grade) makes $81,230 ... and that's before the very good defined benefit pension plan as well as the Thrift (i.e., govt employees 401K) Plan. I.e., While you may not be one of the 'very wealthy' around here, you're definitely in the 10% ... If you can't find something suitable in this area on that kind of pay you really ought to consider moving to an area where that kind of pay would be considered 'very wealthy' ...e.g., something like a mid-sized city in the mid-west or the south. But if you really like it here, do like the rest of us and realize a good part of the value of living here isn't have big and sumptuous digs, but instead having ready access to all this city and its environs has to offer.

by Lance on Jan 25, 2012 9:22 am • linkreport

As to the suggestion that young people "Live in a group house, you entitled whiner!" I recommend the linked piece on the young WaPo employee's search for housing. It's quite an eye-opener...

What the house-buying market in DC was 6 years ago, the apartment-renting market is now.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/where-we-live/post/the-apartment-hunt-craigslist--the-good-the-bad-the-ugly/2012/01/20/gIQA7OsrJQ_blog.html

by oboe on Jan 25, 2012 9:24 am • linkreport

Redline:

I think that if you can't make ends meet as a single person making 90k (at GS13 step 1 presumably you have a few more steps so probably closer to 95k), you need to examine your lifestyle. Paying 18% of your gross to rent is pretty damn cheap considering. If you took out hundreds of thousands of dollars in loans and then took a government job, that's a you problem, and to expect others to subsidize your poor choices is just crazy.

Then again, I shouldn't feed the trolls...

by Silver Spring on Jan 25, 2012 9:25 am • linkreport

@ Lance - I think you linked to the wrong table. DC workers get a 24% locality increase. http://www.opm.gov/oca/12tables/html/dcb.asp

by Silver Spring on Jan 25, 2012 9:29 am • linkreport

I'm with @Lance, when I moved to DC I saved up my money by various frugal cost-cutting measures, like renting a studio apartment at 18th and Belmont for $500. Also not having an iPhone. That way, when it came time to buy, I had the down-payment to buy a small 1200 square foot row-house near Lincoln Park for $250k just before the housing price explosion. That house is now worth nearly half a million dollars.

See what hard-work, frugality, and canny foresight will get you?

by oboe on Jan 25, 2012 9:31 am • linkreport

@Thinkin' Reader

I do want peace, safety and good schools - but I want them IN the urban core. I grew up in the suburbs and don't want that life for my kids...

But thanks for telling me how I should live my life, grandpa.

by Justin on Jan 25, 2012 9:42 am • linkreport

@oboe - good points re poverty. The folks saying "go to congress heights" are perhaps neglecting the social and racial tensions already created by gentrification in DC. Its like the young people are either damned for being "entitled" and not wanting to move to new transitional areas, OR they are damned for driving the poor and minorities out of the city. Seems unfair to me. It may be that SFH owners in areas desirable for new development dont give a damn about the poor folks EOTR, as long as they dont have to suffer densification in their own nabes.

At those debated the budgets of 20somethings. I think they are neglecting the student loan issue. The real difference between recent years and the old days is not so much the ratio of nominal gross income to rent, as it is the higher debt loads new grads carry these days.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jan 25, 2012 9:47 am • linkreport

"That way, when it came time to buy, I had the down-payment to buy a small 1200 square foot row-house near Lincoln Park for $250k just before the housing price explosion. That house is now worth nearly half a million dollars.
See what hard-work, frugality, and canny foresight will get you?"

Here in ffx there are families who, by scrimping and saving, managed to buy townhouses for 400k, which are now worth 250k. Hard work and frugality, without the "canny foresight" or "just good luck" don't get you nearly as much.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jan 25, 2012 9:49 am • linkreport

"If you took out hundreds of thousands of dollars in loans and then took a government job, that's a you problem, and to expect others to subsidize your poor choices is just crazy."

the basic answer being folks who aren't rich shouldnt major in liberal arts at private universities (a gs 13 for a recent lib arts grad aint bad, leaving aside the small number of such grads who can make it in finance)

Without going into that as life advice (which is rather offtopic?) it sure isnt in the fed govts interest to not be able to hire lib arts grads from private U (except for the more affluent background kids).

We havent even begun to address folks working for goody goody NGOs who make LESS than 50k starting out. I mean THOSE should be the folks in group houses - if the folks with better jobs making 50 to 55k take those spots where are the lowest earning grads (and as Oboe says, the local civil servants, and the poor) going to go?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jan 25, 2012 9:55 am • linkreport

I think what people (Milennals) really want is easy access to other young, attractive people, and the ability to stumble home drunk.

Frederick or Winchester, VA would be better for at least one of them.

I don't see any real need for Milennials in this area. This is NOT a dynamic area. Jobs here are boring and bureaucratic. Hello, security clearances? Whether a GS-10 or 11 is filled by an attractive red headed Harvard girl who likes to party -- or a 37 year old army vetran who is willing to commute 2+ hours to get to work -- is pretty immaterial to the regions economy.

What I see is DC is becoming like NY, SF and LA. 20 year olds come here for a few years, move on to the next metro area, and hopefully hit it with a good job in one of the areas. But if you're here for a few years and your income isn't very close to 100K, take the hint: you're not really wanted here. Go move to Pittsburgh or someplace like that.

Almost everything I've read on this blog supports the conclusion that we should rename this More Expensive Expensive Washington.

by charlie on Jan 25, 2012 9:57 am • linkreport

In the next entry, there is a blurb about Nancy Metzger being appointed to the Historic Preservation Board. She has opposed numerous projects that would increase density because they do not comport with her ideas of historic preservation. I point this out because there are lots of reasons why people do things that have the effect of increasing housing costs, and they often do it with all the best of intentions. Your affordability crisis will not sway her like.

by Crickey7 on Jan 25, 2012 10:00 am • linkreport

Another element is ignored by that WaPo article and by many young professionals. If you are looking for cheap housing, restricting yourself to craigslist and online services in your search is a bad idea. Craigslist is great for finding a group house or a not-cheap apartment, but I've found a boots on the ground strategy is better for finding really cheap apartments in desirable areas.

Get out there and go in person to the rental offices/building managers for many of the older apartment buildings in the city that house working-class people. Those managers are often very savvy and know of upcoming rentals in their buildings, AND of rentals in other buildings because they know the other managers.

Also those places don't nickle and dime you with BS like a $500 move-in fee.

by MLD on Jan 25, 2012 10:03 am • linkreport

@Matt B,

I've been posting here for awhile. I live in GT now, but like all 20 something’s, didn't have two crusty dimes to rub together when I moved to DC decades ago with my undergrad engineering degree that paid a paltry inflation adjusted ~28K per year. Sure, I wanted to live in GT then, but couldn't afford it. So, I made the basic decision that everyone else has seem to be capable of making except a few here, and lived where I could afford. You know, awesome places like rt 1, south of the beltway and Centreville. I didn’t want to live there anymore then than you do now but I did this until my checkbook could support my wants.

This generation has to do the same. That isn’t “unfair”, it’s life.

And really, the whining about the economy is enough. You are acting like you are the first generation to experience a recession. I’ve been through half a dozen at this point. Live through the energy crisis, waiting at gas stations in line, 18% interest rates on mortgages, historically high stagflation and empty grocery shelves and then come back and we can talk.

The millennial seems to want it all (is it too much to ask to be able to live in an affordable place near a metro?). Affordability, location, cache…

Well, welcome to life where desires are balanced by ones means.

DC’s income stats are facts, not “claims”. Feel free to look them up yourself or look through the GGW archives. You may not agree with the method in which they make such claims, but the metrics behind them are the same nationwide so the results are the same.

By complaining that you need a masters degree to thrive here simply supports my argument. The barriers to success in this town are higher than average. There is certainly nothing wrong with that. Just like there has been nothing wrong with the high barriers to success in other traditionally competitive US cities. You either prepare to compete here or you don’t. It is pretty simple.

You and any other millennial can choose to live anywhere else in the nation that isn’t so competitive if you like. People make those kinds of decisions every day…period.

by freely on Jan 25, 2012 10:04 am • linkreport

@freely

...Just like there has been nothing wrong with the high barriers to success in other traditionally competitive US cities...

Yes, there's something wrong with that. It's an economic drain that prevents this region from being as successful as it could be.

Did you read the links I posted earlier? Silicon Valley's entrepreneurship rates have fallen below average, mainly due to excessive housing costs.

This is not competition, this is a distortion of the market. And it's not a good thing for the regional economy.

by Alex B. on Jan 25, 2012 10:18 am • linkreport

@ AWalkerInTheCity - people in nice neighborhoods complain when new housing is built and young people move in. So people will complain regardless. But I disagree about your point with folks EOTR. There are a ton of blogs, politicians etc strongly advocating for new residents and investment in the area. Just cause some complain doesn't mean anyone should be deterred.

And its not just EOTR. It's Trinidad, Carver Langston, other places in Ward 5, etc etc

by H Street Landlord on Jan 25, 2012 10:22 am • linkreport

@ freely - "You and any other millennial can choose to live anywhere else in the nation that isn’t so competitive if you like. People make those kinds of decisions every day…period."

Curious as to what you think DC will look like when the older workforce retires. Will a bunch of then 40-year-olds move in, as it's their turn? As AWalkerInTheCity points out, debt loads for both undergraduate and graduate degrees have skyrocketed in the past decade, while time-to-pay-back has remained relatively stagnant. That's not just a barrier-to-success; that's a barrier-to-entry for the entire region for a lot of extremely smart and capable people, "competitive" notwithstanding.

I think the Washington metro area as a whole would do well to encourage policies that allow bright young people with good credentials to live and work here, and enjoy doing so. Increasing density, relaxing zoning as Dan R. suggests, and promoting affordable housing can go a long way to ensuring a healthy mix of skill sets are sustainable in DC not just in the short to mid-term, but perpetually. Many growing fields that should see their importance to the country expand greatly over the next 20-30 years (public health/health care, and clean/alternative energy come to mind right away) are being voraciously pursued by milennials entering and exiting graduate programs. It'd be awful nice to have some of those industries grow and develop in greater Washington, and even better to have some of those now-milennials involved in our federal government. I don't really want all those folks to wait until they're 35 or 40 to even think about coming to Montgomery, Arlington, or Washington.

by worthing on Jan 25, 2012 10:23 am • linkreport

"This is NOT a dynamic area. Jobs here are boring and bureaucratic. Hello, security clearances?"

If you are willing to throw away the living socials, the dynamic private sector things that are starting to happen. Also as the capital, we have lots of non govt jobs in think takes, ngos, etc, etc. Of course to some people it would be better if all those goody goody progressive orgs just didnt exist.

" Whether a GS-10 or 11 is filled by an attractive red headed Harvard girl who likes to party -- or a 37 year old army vetran who is willing to commute 2+ hours to get to work -- is pretty immaterial to the regions economy."

Actually even there you're wrong. Most agencies dont want a generic person, they want folks with specific skill sets - some agencies want scientists, statisticians, economists, sociologists, etc, etc. Not too many 37 yo army vets with those quals - not all the fed jobs (esp those in DC itself) are like typical DOD civilian jobs.

Also of course, those two hour commutes for the 37yos who feel "entitled" to a newish house on one quarter of an acre, are becoming problematic themselves.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jan 25, 2012 10:37 am • linkreport

"@ AWalkerInTheCity - people in nice neighborhoods complain when new housing is built and young people move in. So people will complain regardless. But I disagree about your point with folks EOTR. There are a ton of blogs, politicians etc strongly advocating for new residents and investment in the area. Just cause some complain doesn't mean anyone should be deterred. "

1. Id be willing to bet that the consensus against gentrification (not quite the same as reinvestment) EOTR (and in similar areas in ward 5) is at least as strong as the consensus against new development in the desirable areas.

Im certainly not arguing that no further gentrification take place. It is and it will. But arguing that the desire of homeowners in places like Mt Pleasant and Shaw to be free from the horrors of ten story buildings should trump the concerns of blacks in Congress Heights for the remaining affordable housing in areas like that, seems to me to hardly be justified. As public policy.

As for the choice - well I lived in a transitional area in my 20s - i was fine, but my GF (now my wife of over 20 years) was mugged twice despite considerable savvy. To me some of the complaints about whining, that get to evaluating every single lifestyle fact and preference of a 20 something is kind of unseemly. IF the OP were calling for a massive subsidy, I could see that might be a natural response anyway. BUT the OP did not. All that is at issue here is mentioning that costs for young people starting out in this area ARE high, and that we should be cognizant of that as we make policy decisions. The response, of interrogating young people on every preference, and every life choice, to show them that this is "THEIR FAULT" for being unfrugal, entitled, whatever, seems like the sign of a massive chip on some peoples shoulders.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jan 25, 2012 10:45 am • linkreport

@charlie - "But if you're here for a few years and your income isn't very close to 100K, take the hint: you're not really wanted here."

That's right, I forgot; no one living or working in DC should be here unless they have a TS with poly, are a GS-12 or better (tops out at 97k!), or at least a mid-career associate at a biglaw firm or a manager at one of the major consulting houses. C'mon now. Economies can't work that way.

by worthing on Jan 25, 2012 10:47 am • linkreport

@ AWalkerInTheCity; sorry, I don't count snake oill schemes like Living Social as "dynamic". There was, briefly, a growing telecom business in the DC area (together with AOL) but that has been gone for 10 years. What drives jobs here is goverment -- and goverment contracting.

Aand given that the bulk of that work is defense/security related, that army vet is looking better.

I really wonder what all these kids with Masters in killing islamic terrorists are going to be doing in 10 years.

by charlie on Jan 25, 2012 10:48 am • linkreport

@worthing; mid-career at a law firm? Manager at CEB? I think that's a bit off. What is the starting salary at a law firm right now?

But yes, that's the general idea. Hint to readers -- if you don't see yourself making 100K in a year or two, get the hell out of here.

by charlie on Jan 25, 2012 10:50 am • linkreport

@charlie - that's why I said biglaw. Yes, 1st years at Skadden and Latham and whatnot are still killing it, even though lawyer salaries (and hiring) have slowed considerably over the past 2-3 years. However, boutique firms, much less lawyers actually working for DOJ and other federal agencies, are starting at much more "normal" rates. I know someone who started around 75k at a boutique firm here about a year ago, plenty of govvies who are GS-11 at DOJ, etc. That doesn't even account for local jurisdictions, like DAs and public defenders in Fairfax, Montgomery, etc. We need those, too.

Salaries are all over the place at consulting houses. Where I am, senior consultants tend to make anywhere from 75k-100k, depending on industry, experience, performance, etc. Being a manager pretty much locks you into six figures. Skew that a little higher if you're supporting a federal client and need to hold a clearance. Again, as with law, smaller firms in the area are not paying like that for early and mid-career.

I guess I just don't get your point, unless you're being hyperbolic and snarky. A regional economy where everyone in a professional role makes mad money as you suggest simply doesn't exist. Federal pay scales, in fact, guarantee that for the Washington area.

by worthing on Jan 25, 2012 11:07 am • linkreport

Well said, worthing

by Elle on Jan 25, 2012 11:20 am • linkreport

@charlie

I think we have very different views of both the current state and the future of the region's economy.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jan 25, 2012 11:33 am • linkreport

@danreed!, what would happen if you reframed the argument?

That is, not "We Millennials can't get the housing we want at a price we can afford" (which is not a problem unique to Millennials).

But rather, "Hey, Montgomery County Baby Boomers, do you want your children (and grandchildren) to be willing and able to live near you in Montgomery County?"

by Miriam on Jan 25, 2012 11:35 am • linkreport

"Not a big issue. Once these millennials get a little older and start having kids of their own, they'll want to leave the urban center for the affordability, peace, quiet, and safety of the 'burbs (not to mention the good schools). "

Right. Because they will intensely desire the burden of chaufeuring every child from birth to age 16, and then helping him get a car.

Because they will not have noticed that cities are actually safer for children nowadays. (Less likely to get your kid squished by a soccer mom in an SUV.)

"Taking the subway or biking to work seems cool at 20 but by 30 or 40 most people yearn for the comfort, freedom, safety, and reliability of the car. Urban living is destined to be a small niche market in the U.S. Read Wendell Cox, Randal O'Toole, and Joel Kotkin and see how the next 100 million Americans will be living in the suburbs and not in the classic urban cores."

Which is why the prices in the 'burbs are dropping while even the skankiest apartments in the cities are going for outrageous rents and prices.

"All this assumes the millennials get past their spoiled-brat syndrome and entitlement issues."

Such spoiled brats that they've been doing the hard work of rehabilitating the cities their elders gutted.

by Omri on Jan 25, 2012 11:43 am • linkreport

@ AWalkerInTheCity; you might enjoy the following:

http://66.147.244.232/~lifeats1/cra/pdfs/studies_reports_presentations/VA%20Federal%20Spending%20Impacts.pdf

In many ways, he understates the case. The other real drivers are homeland security and intelligence spending, and those are easier to cut than DOD.

Civilian federal workers can be more easily moved to places like Buffalo and Denver rather than high cost Washington.

We've had a good ten years, unlike the rest of the county. I don't see that continuing indefinitely. The other major driver is health care, and DC is not a market leader there.

by charlie on Jan 25, 2012 11:46 am • linkreport

@H St LL- a 15 min bus ride to get to a basic destination like a grocery store or a restaurant is a substantial downgrade in standard of living compared to a 5-10 min walk (or 3-5 min bike ride) to those same destinations. If you have to ride a bus for 15 mins its not in your nieghborhood-its in someone elses nieghborhood.

Dan R. emphasized the desireability to walk/bike to destinations within a neighborhood not just as a trendy style thing but for the purpose of supporting healthful lifestyle choices. That our zoning codes & built forms and infrastructure throw up barriers to any individual seeking to make healthful lifestyle choices is absurd.

For you to equate a truly walkable neighborhood to one that requires a 15min bus ride to basic destinations like grocery and restaurant is also absurd. The difference is substantial and not dismissible. Thats why those places are so cheap as others have already pointed out.

by Tina on Jan 25, 2012 11:50 am • linkreport

@charlie

I dont dispute that DOD is important to the region, and esp to NoVa. I dont see anything in fullers presentation indicating that DOD will be more important in the future, or that non govt private sector, or civilian govt sector, will be less important, esp to the central jurisdictions. If anything it suggests a region with more red headed harvard gals, and fewer 37 YO veterans.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jan 25, 2012 11:57 am • linkreport

@ charlie

So...are we going to start paying secretaries, janitors, teachers, fire fighters, police officers, retail clerks, bus drivers, train operators and scores of other essential service professionals $100,000 per annum?

If not, what happens when they get out?

by Elle on Jan 25, 2012 12:19 pm • linkreport

@ Elle; many of the job categories you list people work parttime (or rather, they do have multiple jobs). Interesting how many of those are goverment jobs, isn't it. Most cops in this area are moonlighting. Same with firefigheters. And we all know train opererators are pulling in 100K on WMATA...

But this is called inflation, people. Low income people get priced out. "Milennials" are just different because they have more mobility and have a chance in the future. If you're 40 and not making $100K in this area....

Move to pittsburgh and give up your dreams of being in Washington.

A friend who is an ALJ got transferred to Dayton. He is loving life. Bought himself a nice house,and is making enough to send his kids to a very good private school.

by charlie on Jan 25, 2012 12:45 pm • linkreport

@charlie-included in Elles list of scores of other essential service professionals includes healthcare workers like nurses, primary care docs, technicians and aids. These folks are not government employees. Your attitude is crass, cavalier and unrealistic. When did you last visit a primary care doc? Who took your vitals? Have you been hospitalized? Who made sure your urinary bladder was draining through the catherter into the bag? Not everyone chooses work by its maximum paycheck potential. Some people are motivated by other values. We need those people. Apparently you're not one of them.

by Tina on Jan 25, 2012 12:54 pm • linkreport

@AWalkinTheCity - some of the most desirable neighborhoods in the city have the highest crime rates. The MPD Crime Map is down at the present so I can't run a search, but the point is still valid.

@ Tina - Ever heard of grocery delivery services? If you use that you can live walking distance to say, the stuff in Anacostia to go out. Or if you want to live walking distance to a grocery, live near the Congress Heights metro and walk to the Giant on Alabama Ave SE. Having to take a couple of metro stops to get to entertainment and living walking distance to a grocery store is hardly a non-transit lifestyle. Minnesota@Benning - grocery store walkable, short bus ride to tons of bars. Or if you live in Carver-Langston you can walk to the grocery and amazing entertainment. Have you been to any of these areas? You seem quite uninformed. All of these areas are well served by transit, have groceries nearby and are quite affordable.

by H Street Landlord on Jan 25, 2012 1:04 pm • linkreport

"@AWalkinTheCity - some of the most desirable neighborhoods in the city have the highest crime rates. The MPD Crime Map is down at the present so I can't run a search, but the point is still valid. "

Oh goodness, are we going to discuss adams morgan, its crime rate, and whether a rate by population is the correct way to normalize in an area that has so many non resident visitors, who are often crime victims? Instead of spending 20 comments debating that, how about we accept the perceptions of the folks who dont want to move to certain areas they think are dangerous. They may or may not be incorrect, but their perception hardly indicates they are "entitled"

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jan 25, 2012 1:15 pm • linkreport

"But this is called inflation, people. Low income people get priced out. "

er, no, thats not what inflation means.

by AWalkerinTheCity on Jan 25, 2012 1:17 pm • linkreport

@AWalkerinthecity- I was going to mention that counterpoint, which I think has some validity, but if we could use the crime map, we could do some, say 3 to 1 comparisons. I still think it would be favorable to a lot of areas EOTR. And I wasn't talking about Adams Morgan - see, 14th and R NW, Columbia Heights, Shaw, Truxton Circle (not as expensive as the other areas) which all have significant crime problems. Let's be honest - a lot of people's "perceptions" (which people, by the way?) are based in prejudice.

by H Street Landlord on Jan 25, 2012 1:25 pm • linkreport

@HSt LL-Ever heard of grocery delivery services?

This is not equivalent to having that destination within walking distance.

Now you're equating depending on a grocery delivery service with a walkable neighborhood. Earlier you equated walkable with depending on a bus ride out of ones own neighborhood.

Its this type of errouneous equating that made you seem quite uniformed to me. That is what I disagreed with in your comment: the equating of a walkable neighborhood to one that requires a bus ride to get to basic destinations /depends on a grocery delivery service. That's what you described and thats what I disagree with.

Aside from the equating dependence on grocery delivery to walkable, what you describe above is a contrast to your other comment. I am very uninformed about many things. Everyone is, including you. That you equate a walkable neighborhood to one that requires a bus ride to basic destinations/dependence on a grocery delivery service to me is an example of something you are quite uninformed about.

Please define "walkable". Does it require taking a bus to basic destinations and/or depending on a delivery service for basic goods? Or is it one where those destinations can be walked to in <15min? I define walkable as the latter. If you do too then we are in agreement.

by Tina on Jan 25, 2012 1:27 pm • linkreport

@AWalkerinTheCity; on the private sector, you might like this, VC funding in the region.

https://www.pwcmoneytree.com/MTPublic/ns/nav.jsp?page=region®ion=1401

If you click through, bascially it was cvent. I like and know the guys there. Funny story when it was founded. They wanted to be in DC but didn't want to pay for employee parking.

by charlie on Jan 25, 2012 1:33 pm • linkreport

@H St LL- a 15 min bus ride to get to a basic destination like a grocery store or a restaurant is a substantial downgrade in standard of living compared to a 5-10 min walk (or 3-5 min bike ride) to those same destinations. If you have to ride a bus for 15 mins its not in your nieghborhood-its in someone elses nieghborhood.

That's kinda the point, isn't it? I think the thing that rubs many of us the wrong way is the (perceived) "I want what I want, but I can't afford it, so things have to change" attitude, as opposed to the, "I can't afford what I want, so I'll do what I can and work to get what I want."

Case in point, HHLL presented an alternative, and was met with, "but that's a substantial downgrade int eh standard of living." Well, yeah. Sorry, but if you're making $50,000, you can't afford the ideal situation if you live in the city. Refusing to accept compromises heightens the perception of entitlement. (Tina, I'm not picking on you; this is the first example I found.)

I freely admit that my perception is colored by two things - First, the natural tendancy to view a new situation through the lens of their own experiences. (In my case, I have never lived alone - ever. I started in a group house, moved to an apartment, then a condo where I rented out a room to a friend to help with expenses, then I got married. So complaints that 1 BR are unaffordable don't resonate with me. And none of these places, until the condo (which was purchased after I'd achieved some success) were particularly nice, or in great areas. There are tradeoffs for everything. Even now, I'd love to live in the historic, 4 story rowhouse in Logan or Dupont Circles. But I can't afford them, so I live in half of a historic rowhouse in Columbia Heights. And I may have to move out of there to get better schools - I don't want to, but it's important. This tradeoff thing doesn't go away.)

The second thing that colors my perception is the shitty attitude of many millenials at my firm. I know, I know - none of you on GGW act entitled at the office, you work hard without complaint, etc. But the perception exists (and it exists for a reason) that millenials aren't exactly putting in heroic efforts in the workplace, and my personal interactions don't do anything to dispel that perception - in fact, thei reinforce it. So that frustration bleeds in to this discussion as well, and I imagine it does for others as well.

by dcd on Jan 25, 2012 1:35 pm • linkreport

@HSt LL-Crime: the point I made up-thread was that 10 years ago there were small nice places available for <100k in walkable (by my definition) low-crime areas in DC. The places in NW/NE you cite above are indeed higher in crime than other areas w/ lower crime that are no longer affordable in the same way they were even 10 years ago. That is precisely one of the main points of DRs post.

by Tina on Jan 25, 2012 1:38 pm • linkreport

@ Tina - Why did you respond to only one line of my post? Read it again. I listed several neighborhoods in which grocery stores are nearby and walkable, rents are affordable and there are several transit modes nearby. How are those not walkable neighborhoods?

by H Street Landlord on Jan 25, 2012 1:38 pm • linkreport

@ hhland lord

Do you think the racial make up of crime perpetrators is significantly different in Shaw than it is in Congress Heights? Cause otherwise I think its unfair to call someone who chooses Shaw over Congress Heights "prejudiced" They may be incorrect, but not particularly bigoted.

Look, I see folks trying to push back against the reality that this is an expensive area, by telling young people to live in an anywhere that doesnt draw young people for very good reasons. And when the young people dont go we needed to find names to call them 'entitled' or now "prejudiced"

Tell me in what cities an all black neighborhood, well beyond the transitional frontier, with poor access to even groceries, has attracted large numbers of young college grads. Since young college grads wont move to congress heights, are others - like empty nesters for example, moving to congress heights? I think not. As such I think talking about congress heights is NOT a realistic way of addressing the shortage of housing in this area. leaving aside that the affordable housing in Congress heights is an important resource for non college grads facing affordability issues.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jan 25, 2012 1:42 pm • linkreport

@dcd

The second thing that colors my perception is the shitty attitude of many millenials at my firm.

I don't know. Listening to anyone with more than five years older than you lecture about how your generation is entitled and lazy probably doesn't encourage morale.

by dan reed! on Jan 25, 2012 1:42 pm • linkreport

@H St Landlord

For all its flaws, Walkscore provides a pretty good snapshot of what kind of stuff you can access from any given location via walking.

http://www.walkscore.com/DC/Washington_D.C.

by Alex B. on Jan 25, 2012 1:42 pm • linkreport

"That's kinda the point, isn't it? I think the thing that rubs many of us the wrong way is the (perceived) "I want what I want, but I can't afford it, so things have to change" attitude, as opposed to the, "I can't afford what I want, so I'll do what I can and work to get what I want"

How about "I want what I want, I can't afford, I could afford it with some relatively low cost smart changes to public policy, so lets get started" ?

As for culture of entitlement, I see as much complaining from baby boomers, from gen xers, etc as from millenials. heck I thought that was what we boomers were known for. Remember, we werent tough like the "greatest generation" And the whole gen x thing got started with them complaining about how much harder they had it then the spoiled boomers.

This whole my generation is better, less entitled, less whiny than yours is so much bilge water. EVERY generation whines at some point. Theres no historic change in whining.

What there ARE are real, tangible, impediments to market accommodations to shifts in demand. Lets address those, and stop kvetching that young people kvetch too much.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jan 25, 2012 1:48 pm • linkreport

I don't know. Listening to anyone with more than five years older than you lecture about how your generation is entitled and lazy probably doesn't encourage morale.

Sure, of course that's right - which is why I don't lecture about generational laziness. However, when millenials fail, over and over, to meet reasonable expectations for performance and work ethic, and get huffy when asked to meet those standards, it does tend to leave a bad taste.

If you're referring to my comments above as lecturing, that wasn't my intention - just pointing out possible reasons why you've received so much pushback.

by dcd on Jan 25, 2012 1:48 pm • linkreport

@dcd-ok i'm not picking on you either. This is an academic discussion. Well, yeah. Sorry, but if you're making $50,000, you can't afford the ideal situation if you live in the city. Refusing to accept compromises heightens the perception of entitlement.

Again, DR says he is willing to sacrifice space and luxury. It is harder to do that to get a small decent place in a walkable (by my definition) area now compared to 11 years ago. That place I bought will absolutely not sell for <100k now. Why not? A bunch of reasons. Not b/c I sacrificed more than he says he's willing to. I don't see that. Its other reasons.

by Tina on Jan 25, 2012 1:48 pm • linkreport

"The second thing that colors my perception is the shitty attitude of many millenials at my firm.

I don't know. Listening to anyone with more than five years older than you lecture about how your generation is entitled and lazy probably doesn't encourage morale"

man when I was young and the greatest gen people lectured us boomers for being lazy, spoiled, entitled ingrates, we took it like men/women. You millenials are too soft.

Also when we went to the bar to drink wine coolers, and pink zinfandel, and mexican beer with limes, we walked uphill, both ways.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jan 25, 2012 1:50 pm • linkreport

"The most effective way to make a city more affordable would be to make it less appealing"

http://bettercities.net/news-opinion/blogs/robert-steuteville/15845/why-cities-are-unaffordable

by Thayer-D on Jan 25, 2012 1:50 pm • linkreport

@hSt LL -and I ask you, why are you responding to only one line in my comment? I acknowledged your 2nd comment decsribed something different. Then I asked you which of those two descriptions or yours defines "walkable":

Aside from the equating dependence on grocery delivery to walkable, what you describe above is a contrast to your other comment.

Please define "walkable". Does it require taking a bus to basic destinations and/or depending on a delivery service for basic goods? Or is it one where those destinations can be walked to in <15min? I define walkable as the latter. If you do too then we are in agreement.

by Tina on Jan 25, 2012 1:57 pm • linkreport

Sure, of course that's right - which is why I don't lecture about generational laziness. However, when millenials fail, over and over, to meet reasonable expectations for performance and work ethic, and get huffy when asked to meet those standards, it does tend to leave a bad taste.
Sounds like lecturing to me, and I'm not a millennial.

If I ever ended up with an entire class of students who were underperforming, I might spend time reevaluating my own teaching or that of the teachers who came before me.

by David R. on Jan 25, 2012 1:58 pm • linkreport

man when I was young and the greatest gen people lectured us boomers for being lazy, spoiled, entitled ingrates, we took it like men/women.

Probably because you knew they were right.

I kid, I kid!

by dcd on Jan 25, 2012 1:58 pm • linkreport

"Case in point, HHLL presented an alternative, and was met with, "but that's a substantial downgrade int eh standard of living." Well, yeah. Sorry, but if you're making $50,000, you can't afford the ideal situation if you live in the city. Refusing to accept compromises heightens the perception of entitlement. (Tina, I'm not picking on you; this is the first example I found.)"

an ideal situation would be A. a 1br apt in a decent walkable area B. An efficiency in a very desirable walkable area

An efficiency in a decent walkable area - a 1 br in a peripheral metro accessible area - a room in a group apt in a very desirable are - are compromises. What young people face now in this area are either a share in a decent walkable area, or an efficiency in an area with lots of negatives on safety, walkability, closeness to the core,etc.

Whether whining is a good strategy to deal with that I doubt. To some degree this will self correct as more product in the pipeline is finished, the gentrification frontier pushes on, and as companies that can't get labor are pushed out of the metro area, or to its periphery. To some degree we can adopt policies that will help alleviate the issue - though we may not. But to deny its an issue, in order to avoid confirming the "entitlements" of "whiners" strikes me as silly.

Its wise to get an umbrella - its silly to tell people without umbrellas its not raining.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jan 25, 2012 2:02 pm • linkreport

1) can be we make 200 comments?!
2) millennials, look at bus corridors. most people start out living in less than ideal circumstances. suck it up. you just might move into a crummy "it will do for a few years" neighborhood, and then discover that you like it, and stay (I did)

by spookiness on Jan 25, 2012 2:09 pm • linkreport

Re: Generational whining rates.

Nobody did self-absorbed whining better than us Boomers. We are the World! And we have the song to prove it.

by Crickey7 on Jan 25, 2012 2:14 pm • linkreport

dcd wrote:
"However, when millenials fail, over and over, to meet reasonable expectations for performance and work ethic, and get huffy when asked to meet those standards, it does tend to leave a bad taste.

And whose fault would that be (if that was the problem)?

by spiffy on Jan 25, 2012 2:16 pm • linkreport

Unless you have the tax rate of Romney EVERYONE makes sacrifices and/or compromises in where they live.

DR is saying he wants to make sacrifices-he gave as an example a studio apt <400sqft for 95k! Does anyone reading really consider that whining and unwilling to make a sacrifice? The point is, its not available in a walkable (by my definition) area that is decently safe (see zip code 20008) when in fact it WAS available 11 years ago.

Why not? Many reasons. THat DR/anyone making <50K can't buy a tiny place in a walkable safe 'hood is not a result of their whining and feeling entitled.

by Tina on Jan 25, 2012 2:20 pm • linkreport

dcd wrote:
"However, when millenials fail, over and over, to meet reasonable expectations for performance and work ethic, and get huffy when asked to meet those standards, it does tend to leave a bad taste.

And whose fault would that be (if that was the problem)?

To the extent this question isn't rhetorical, opinions vary. The fault is theirs. As for the cause of this particular behavior, I blame their parents. And to be fair, it's also their supervisors' faults (including my own) for not coming dopwn on them like a ton of bricks the first time it happened.

by dcd on Jan 25, 2012 2:32 pm • linkreport

Instead of whining about the employees you have, why not find an alternative? Maybe someone from Congress Heights, or a 37 YO army veteran. Why do you think its the govts responsibility to subsidize you to find affordable motivated employees? Motivated employees isnt something you are entitled to, its something you need to PAY for. If you cant afford that, well maybe you should save up till you can afford some. Meanwhile do the work yourself, and give up vacations and time off. Thats how it was done in the old days.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jan 25, 2012 2:56 pm • linkreport

Instead of whining about the employees you have, why not find an alternative?

Who's whining? Once again, I was merely pointing out that part of the reaction to the original post imay be colored by prior interactions with Millenials.

Maybe someone from Congress Heights, or a 37 YO army veteran.

Because few of them have gone to a top law school. I'd hire a 37 yo army vet in a heartbeat, and I really don't care where anyone grew up or lives.

Why do you think its the govts responsibility to subsidize you to find affordable motivated employees?

Government subsidies? Where'd you get that?

Motivated employees isnt something you are entitled to, its something you need to PAY for. If you cant afford that, well maybe you should save up till you can afford some.

Well, that's true. But my firm pays near the top of the associate scale, so there's not a lot of room to move. These aren't people who are just scraping by. I suppose we could fire a half dozen or so, but that hardly seems humane.

(As an aside, this may be part of the housing problem - so many Millenials in DC are making well into six figures, so the supply in walkable (by my definition) and safe areas skews to accommodate them, to the detriment of others.)

Meanwhile do the work yourself, and give up vacations and time off. Thats how it was done in the old days.

I do. Hence the frustration.

I'm not sure why you're so worked up over this (was it the boomer crack?). I merely pointed out that in my experience, Millenials have not been particularly hard workers or top performers. I was ADMITTING that it biased my read of the article. What's the problem?

by dcd on Jan 25, 2012 3:27 pm • linkreport

@dcd -I think WINTC's comment was tongue in cheek.

by Tina on Jan 25, 2012 3:37 pm • linkreport

Tina,

This is the second time I've seen you post this and I can't honestly believe you are saying that you could find <100K homes in 20008 (Cleveland Park) a decade ago. Do you mean someplace else, because I've lived here awhile and SFH's haven't been below 100K in Cleveland Park since the 70's and condos since the late 80's/early 90's...certainly not 10 years ago.

by freely on Jan 25, 2012 4:04 pm • linkreport

After scanning Trulia, I see that several of the garden-apartment studios on Porter and Ordway are selling for $195-$225k today: http://www.trulia.com/property/3052497858-2755-Ordway-St-NW-Washington-DC-20008

Nothing fancy, but that's a home in a great neighborhood, all right. Given the housing boom and some of the value shifts cited in this thread (Oboe 2x purchase price, LuvDusty 3x purchase price), I'm not at all surprised Tina was able to get something small in 20008 for that price a decade past.

by worthing on Jan 25, 2012 4:26 pm • linkreport

This is the second time I've seen you post this and I can't honestly believe you are saying that you could find <100K homes in 20008 (Cleveland Park) a decade ago.

(Oboe 2x purchase price, LuvDusty 3x purchase price), I'm not at all surprised Tina was able to get something small in 20008 for that price a decade past.

FYI, I bought my condo in 2001 for 90K...I actually looked at an exact same condo/size/condition in the same exact building just 6 months earlier and it was only 76K. (I just wasn't ready to buy at that moment..)

People seem to forget how quickly and intensely real estate prices, especially for 1 bedroom condos in Arlington (part. Clarendon and Courthouse areas), skyrocketed from the mid-late 90s to the early-mid 2000s.

I had a friend who also lived in my same building...he bought his 1 bedroom in 94 for 37K!! and sold it in 2006 for $270K! If I had bought in my same building just 5 years earlier I would have made an additioal $30-$50K. It was insane!

Needless to say, that bubble burst and those days are over, but the prices never really went back down much in the area, they just leveled off. Meanwhile, the salaries did not keep up that much--and cost of living has gone up tremendously, especially food and transportation.

That was my original point--the Millenials who just moved here have it a lot worse than the Gen Xers did. And I'm a Gen Xer.

This same thing happened to some degree in every major "valuable" area in the DC market..including Cleveland Park I'm sure.

by LuvDusty on Jan 25, 2012 4:51 pm • linkreport

If you call a supposed 100K 40 year old studio condo with a $500 a month condo fee (inflation adjusted for 10 years ago, its $657 a month now) "affordable" to the millenial set we have here who are all in a tizzy about having to spend 1,400 on a 1br apt today, then I am not sure what we are talking about.

by freely on Jan 25, 2012 5:03 pm • linkreport

@Worthing "As AWalkerInTheCity points out, debt loads for both undergraduate and graduate degrees have skyrocketed in the past decade, while time-to-pay-back has remained relatively stagnant. That's not just a barrier-to-success; that's a barrier-to-entry for the entire region for a lot of extremely smart and capable people, "competitive" notwithstanding."

You're making the wrong assumption that everyone who graduates from college has a high loan to pay back. I know it's not a pretty thought ... but the events of the last half century (unbridled capitalism, two-income families, lower and lower taxes for the wealthy) have created a situation where there are two demographic extremes amongst those graduating ... Those who MUST finance their education because despite working harder than ever, their parents can barely get by on the scraps called 'wages', and those whose two-income, power couple parents are earning more than enough to allow their children to graduate debt free ... and get a good start in life. And gone is the middle class to balance things out between the two, to which the typical graduate used to be able to lay claim to. Compound this inequality with the high exposure the Internet (and modern life) gives to 'the good life' enjoyed by some but not other, and you have a disasterous situation in the making. I can understand Dan's (and others) wanting the government to do something about it ... but creating so called affordable housing by builder smaller and smaller, and packed in tighter and tighter, and with greater and greater relying on public transit vs. personal transportation means isn't the answer. It only addresses the symptoms of the malady and not the cause. We need to restructure to put the incentives out there again for ALL workers and not just the top tier. We don't need to 'bunker down' by asking government to help us settle for less. We need to ask government to help us obtain more ... like it used to. The spirit that conquered the frontiers and built and interstate highway system that is the envey of the world wasn't one predicated on 'economy' ... it was one founded on the principle of being able to accomplish enough things to be able to enjoy conspicuous waste.

by Lance on Jan 25, 2012 6:44 pm • linkreport

Conspicuous waste, the bedrock of American society!

So what's your solution, Lance?

by MLD on Jan 25, 2012 6:56 pm • linkreport

@MLD, for starters, I wouldn't waste taxpayer money on developing tiny tiny houses as Dan mentioned. It would be better spent building the infrastructure we need. For example, the outer beltway we've been hearing about for so long ...

by Lance on Jan 25, 2012 10:10 pm • linkreport

@Dan "I am one of the millennials, at 80 million the largest generation in American history.

When I go to your link, I read the following:

"

With 85 million baby boomers and 50 million Gen Xers, there is already a yawning generation gap among American workers--particularly in their ideas of work-life balance. For baby boomers, it's the juggling act between job and family. For Gen X, it means moving in and out of the workforce to accommodate kids and outside interests. Now along come the 76 million members of Generation Y. For these new 20-something workers ... "
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1640395,00.html#ixzz1kWwv0hgA

How is 76 million (even if stretched to 80 million) larger than 85 million?

by Lance on Jan 25, 2012 10:15 pm • linkreport

@ Alex B.

You cant consider a development that was built 50 years ago sprawl. Montgomery Village is well designed and walkable and with a spur of the CCT it will be transit accessible. Unfortunately these young professionals who cannot afford to live in nicer communities tend to complain about this instead of moving into and revitalizing places like the Village

by Cyrus on Jan 25, 2012 10:20 pm • linkreport

Lance, I agree. We also need to finish those interstates through DC (I-95 and I-266) and widen I-66 to 12 lanes. Then, people can live further out in nice large houses instead of European-sized mini-homes and be able to commute to DC with ease.

The outer beltway is also a must. Scrap the DC streetcar plan, and build the outer beltway instead. It will benefit far more people.

by AlecF on Jan 26, 2012 8:40 am • linkreport

There is no suggestion that the gov't build any sort of housing directly. Just ease restrictions that would allow a developer to make a choice of what types of rooms would go into a building. A building of 100 units can be a mix of all sizes and sq. footage.

by Canaan on Jan 26, 2012 8:50 am • linkreport

@freely-so you're accusing me of lying...? Just go the DC website of public record sales and do a search for zip 20008 in 2001 and you will see there were a bunch of condos sold for <100k. When I bought mine the asscn. fee for that unit was ~$130. Its gone up to $260. (I no longer live there but I still own it). So the presumption that an affordable mortgage is offset by an unweildly asscn fee is false. Its now a very affordable rental unit in a great location in a great bldg. for someone whos willing to live in a tiny place. My vacancy rate is 0%.

by Tina on Jan 26, 2012 11:07 am • linkreport

@LuvDusty-yeah, the real estate history: the guy I bought that place from in 2001 had purchased it in '96 for 56K.

by Tina on Jan 26, 2012 11:18 am • linkreport

DC has always been expensive. I'm 55 and originally from Wisconsin. My best friend had an aunt in Arlington. I was amazed when I heard how much their home cost - almost twice as much as ours and for slightly less space.

by Steve K on Jan 26, 2012 11:48 am • linkreport

@AlecF wrote:
We also need to finish those interstates through DC (I-95 and I-266) and widen I-66 to 12 lanes. Then, people can live further out in nice large houses instead of European-sized mini-homes and be able to commute to DC with ease.
The outer beltway is also a must. Scrap the DC streetcar plan, and build the outer beltway instead. It will benefit far more people.

I'm not sure if you were being facetious or not, but that made perfect sense AlecF! And while we're at it, let's disband WMATA and every other local transit agency, build the outer beltway and every other road the highway lobby wants! Maybe our traffic problems will go away then!

by spiffy on Jan 26, 2012 12:39 pm • linkreport

@AlecF "The outer beltway is also a must. Scrap the DC streetcar plan, and build the outer beltway instead. It will benefit far more people."

Yes, it's true that an outer beltway would benefit far more people and be a much more efficient use of available dollars, but that doesn't mean a streetcar system isn't a 'nice to have' if we can afford it. It's one of the 'conspicuous consumption' items I mentioned earlier that we need to be striving to be able to afford. I.e., We don't just want to be planning to take care of our needs (e.g. the outer beltway) but also to take care of wishes (e.g. the streetcar system)even if economically they're not the most efficient choices.

by Lance on Jan 26, 2012 2:22 pm • linkreport

To all the people telling us millennials to suck it up, that this is how it has always been: please pull your head out of the sand. DC is in the midst of a serious affordable housing crisis. People are spending a significantly larger percentage on housing than they ever have before. http://www.dcfpi.org/nowhere-to-go-as-dc-housing-costs-rise-residents-are-left-with-fewer-affordable-housing-options. It's expensive in the city, it's expensive in the suburbs, it's exorbitantly expensive in sought-after neighborhoods, but it's still expensive even in areas that are not. Those new apartments by the Rhode Island ave metro? Starting at $1700/month for a 1BR. Insane.

I thought I'd never be able to afford to buy a home in a safe, walkable, metro-able area close in to DC...and then I went to grad school at UMD and discovered there is a whole world of affordable housing in PG county. It's amazing the kind of premium you apparently pay to live amongst white people.

by Ginevra123 on Jan 26, 2012 3:41 pm • linkreport

I wouldn't waste taxpayer money on developing tiny tiny houses as Dan mentioned.

Maybe it's the meds, but what does this even mean?

by oboe on Jan 27, 2012 1:46 pm • linkreport

Renters have NO protection from the state.

Or Montgomery County.

Since Bethesda is not a city, landlords can do whatever they like and renters have no recourse. The County Council doesn't much care.

by Capt. Hilts on Jan 27, 2012 6:04 pm • linkreport

When I was a graduate student in city planning 25 years ago, I was assured by someone in the urban sprawl industry that I would move out to the suburbs one day after I married and had children. Never happened. I live in town, and I understand the desire not to be trapped in the 'burbs.

The D.C. area is perhaps the most affluent, booming area in the U.S. But it's always been expensive. It is becoming more like Europe, with good mass transit, small apartments, and cafe culture. That's economics and culture, not social engineering. And no amount of kvetching or snark from those invested in the suburban paradigm will change that.

by Stephen on Jan 29, 2012 6:43 am • linkreport

LoL. Some baby boomer thinks our generation is spoiled. Unless you're 90, your generation hasn't suffered 1/10th what millenials have. You grew up in a land of opulence and luxury - the America your parents made. We grew up in a land of low pay, Mcjobs, and too often, neither. The America YOUR generation made. Thanks for that.

What is it you boomers think you 'suffered'? From what I can tell from your movies and your music, your 'suffering' is confined to a a brief moment in the 60's where you all threw a fit and refused to do your duty the way your parents did. Oh, you didn't want to die for some third-world Asian country? Well, neither did your daddy, but he still went to Korea and he didn't protest, or write 500 songs and a million movies about how it was the Most Important Thing Ever. All of your so-called 'suffering' was nothing but a temper tantrum thrown by over-privileged boomer brats.

The generations before you hated you, and the generations after you hate you. Maybe that should tell you something.

by Soullite on Jan 30, 2012 1:24 pm • linkreport

"From what I can tell from your movies and your music, your 'suffering' is confined to a a brief moment in the 60's where you all threw a fit and refused to do your duty the way your parents did. Oh, you didn't want to die for some third-world Asian country? Well, neither did your daddy, but he still went to Korea and he didn't protest,"

hmmm. about 2 million americans served in Viet Nam. Do you think that all of them were born before 1945 or after 1965? Who do you think DID serve in Viet Nam?

Actually my parents (greatest generation) didnt hate boomers, and my kid (millenial) doesnt hate boomers. And most boomers, AFAICT, dont hate millenials like some of the commentors here. All this intergenerational hate is silly.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jan 30, 2012 1:29 pm • linkreport

"thinking reader?". Hilarious name.

If nobody wants to live in cities, why are city apartments and houses more and more expensive?

Of course, you are very wise and it's obvious that living where you can walk to shops, restaurants, the cleaners, a bank, etc is only for spoiled kiddies. Public transport is also stupid. What real smart folks want is to be dependent on their cars for everything even as gas gets more and more expensive. Two hour commutes in a metal box that costs thousands a year to run and own-having no community or services within miles of your clapboard castle-yep, it's utopia.

Oddly, urban populations have been growing continually since humans came down out of the trees and learned about fire. And lord forfend you ever see how people live in hellholes like London or Paris or Amsterdam.

Just keep on selling that American Dream circa 1954. It's got a real future for people who 'think' like you do.

by Cereal on Jan 30, 2012 1:59 pm • linkreport

" I'm not really sure that single adults making $50K a year need affordable housing options."

That's hilarious.

At the very least, you're consigning a vast number of people to living in circumstances that they find undesirable. This conscious decision to ignore such a significant demand for affordable housing can only be viewed as a real failure of so-called market efficiency.

by RickD on Jan 30, 2012 3:20 pm • linkreport

What ever happened to the idea of extended families? That would reduce the demand for housing, in turn lowering the price. It's done all the time overseas. I don't get the silly American idea that once you graduate college you need to get your own place. All these young, single people drive up the demand for housing, in turn increasing the price. Besides that, living alone isn't healthy. You have nobody to do shopping or cooking if you become ill. And nobody to split the chores with. I attribute the huge numbers of dysfunctional or barely functional people to the concept of "living on your own". For millenia people lived in extended family situations and it worked well. Then suddenly someone got the bright idea that you should be on your own at 18 or 22. And look where we are now as a result.

by Joe R. on Jan 30, 2012 4:01 pm • linkreport

@Soullite,

"What is it you boomers think you 'suffered'? From what I can tell from your movies and your music, your 'suffering' is confined to a a brief moment in the 60's where you all threw a fit and refused to do your duty the way your parents did."
-------

FYI, I am one boomer who did his "duty" in Vietnam. My brother and several of my friends and classmates also gaves their lives in the name of "duty".

As for the inter-generational "hating", your attitude is the the reason why many, including myselef dislike milleneals on the whole. Too many of you are entitled and you have no respect for others, least of all anyone who disagrees with you. You think you deserve what you want simply because you want it and everyone must just let you have your way. The very premise of this article is proof positive.

by ceefer66 on Jan 30, 2012 4:44 pm • linkreport

@ceefer66,

While it's true some of the milleneal generation are entitled (and the same thing can be said of any generation), it's not "entitled" to question the status quo. I do, and I'm not from the milleneal generation (I was born in 1962). I question why basics like housing and food should consume such a large percentage of salaries compared to 25 years ago. I question why those in charge still promote an energy-intensive, unhealthy lifestyle of sprawl. I question why major publics works projects nowadays cost so much, and take so long, compared to years ago. And I question why we're not building more affordable housing in the places where there is the largest demand for it (urban areas). In many of these cases, it's simple bad policy which is the cause, yet the policy doesn't change because the status quo benefits a powerful minority.

It's one thing to expect society to align to one's unrealistic expectations. It's quite another to expect reasonable rewards if you play by the rules. Housing which doesn't consume 75% of a good salary isn't a frill, nor is it an unreasonable expectation. And neither is having a lifestyle where you're not wedded to an expensive, finicky piece of machinery like an automobile. All of these things once existed in my grandparent's generation. We've forgotten about doing things for the public good, instead only doing something if it lines the pockets of CEOs in private enterprise.

by Joe R. on Jan 30, 2012 7:13 pm • linkreport

Wow, the general level of contempt for anyone under 40, or anyone who isn't independently wealthy, here is heartbreaking.

First, freely thinks that a 28 and 30 year old (presumably) couple are "kids." You do realize that these "kids" are substantially older than the average national age for first marriage and first child, and slightly older than the regional average? That, if they're fairly responsible people, depending on their level of education, they've been contributing members of society for 5-9 years? How long are they supposed to wait to buy their first home? How poor of circumstances do they have to live in after all those years in the workforce to earn your respect? My grandparents had a handful of kids and large homes by those ages; my parents had college degrees, a SFH in the suburbs, and a kid on the way; while most of my friends around those ages have starter homes and are at least headed towards marriage, if they're not already married, and have kids within only a few years of those ages. The "later start" that younger people get today due to increased education and decreased economic opportunities is well-accounted for by that age, and $500K is not insane for a nice condo in DC nor for a two-income household comprised of educated adults. But how long do you think they need to "suffer?" Until 35? 40? If fully-functional adults cannot purchase relatively average homes then, yes, we have a huge problem. But it's not entitlement, and it does damage to you old foagies who bash on people that age, too, as people aren't contributing as much to society as they could if you demand they live in near-poverty until middle-age.

Additionally, what more do you want from us "younger people?" When my dad (pre-baby boom) and mom (very slightly pre-baby boom) and aunts and uncles (baby boom) went through college, they were able to do so quickly and affordably, often paying tuition low enough that they could truly "work their way through college." I had a full-time job, or combination of part-time jobs that added up to 40 hours or more a week, all through college, and let me tell you, that barely made a dent in my bills. At one point, I made 3x the minimum wage in my state, full time, and could barely cover my rent (which was cheaper than living in the dorms, and my apartment was a long walk from campus - over a mile - and pretty run down) and basic expenses like utilities and groceries, and I considered myself lucky to have such a good job. Yes, I lived alone in a small apartment, which you seem to have a problem with. I tried living with lots of roommates in a house and in large apartment complexes, which WERE cheaper, but the noise level was such that I couldn't attend class 20-ish hours a week, work 40+ hours a week, study, and get enough sleep to be even remotely functional. So, like many people between 21 and 35, I have massive student loan debt. You got your tax cuts from reduced funding of colleges, and I got stuck with the bill, and now you think I need to live like an undergrad until I'm 40 or something? You know what...[expletive] (I did that, not the site). On top of that, I'm faced with a terrible job market because you didn't plan adequately for retirement and keep working well past a normal retirement age (or just sat by while the benes you were promised were wiped away with full consent, but that's more my grandparents' generation than my parents', so I don't have as much faith in this argument for people currently of retirement age), an out-of-control housing market because of your attitudes on finance and housing, and a terrible credit market because you had to have what you wanted right f'in now (I know very few people under 35 who have run up more than a few grand in CC debt, but lots of older people who used a combination of financing instruments - CCs, personal loans, home equity loans - to buy lots luxury goods and services they couldn't afford).

So we're faced with uncontrollable education costs, uncontrollable housing costs, a crap economy, and a crap financing market, none of those our doing, and you think WE should be making "sacrifices" to accomodate this? Sure, I laugh at people who spend $2K+ on a 1-bed right out of college, but the fact is, the *ever so slightly* more reasonable rent that was available to me when I had spent a few years in the job market and could finally afford my own, not very nice but decent and convenient place, is not available in DC anymore. I know more than my fair share of late-20's/early-30's couples who live in not-very-nice one-bedrooms. How much sacrifice does it take ON OUR PART so that you can have your precious "suburban paradise" on transit-accessible main drags? DO YOU REALIZE YOU'RE TELLING YOUR KIDS THAT THEIR QUALITY OF LIFE MUST BE SUBSTANTIALLY LOWER THAN YOUR OWN???

by Ms. D on Jan 30, 2012 7:45 pm • linkreport

"There's already an acute shortage of affordable housing, particularly around Metro stations..."

Maybe it has to do with zoning policies?

Sometime in the past few years, a plot of land near the intersection of Cedar Lane and Rockville Pike was developed. It's nearly within a stone's throw of NIH. That means there's lots of young people who work at NIH who could have lived there, or lots of people who would find the relatively short walk to the Medical Center metro rather convenient.

But no apartment buildings went up. What went up, you say? Well, luxury townhomes.

What a f***ing waste.

by anon on Jan 30, 2012 8:44 pm • linkreport

If the millenials weren't such class snobs. And moved were they can afford ala SE near transportation, affordable housing, St E's new infrastructure, it's actually in the city, close to everything. Then they wouldn't have a problem finding affording housing....

Boo hoo, the little apt snobs can't afford to live downtown...Get over it....or get 3 room mates....So much entitlement....

I am college educated, so are all my other neighbors, and guess what I BOUGHT were I could afford. They should do the same....Who the hell graduates and thinks they are supposed to live up the street from GS 14s and 15s? And CFO and CEOs....really?

by No one owes ya'll anything, you need social welfare but yet you hate, and need it the most right now. Laughable on Jan 30, 2012 9:34 pm • linkreport

Wow this thread is still going strong, don't be ashamed, be proud Dan Reed! Clearly it was well written.

@ Tina - I consider walkable to have two of the following three items (though not all three, because that would be far too high of a standard) - strong public transit nearby, nearby grocery store/shopping, and nearby entertainment. Obviously the built environment - ie street grid and sidewalks - also factor in.

The areas I cited (other than your constant reciting of the original example) all fit this description.

I can't believe someone negatively cited an areas as "far past the transition line" - what does that even mean? People live there already - what a self centered statement. That statement embodies so much of what is wrong with modern society. You do realize we are talking about areas less than 4 miles from downtown DC right - hardly in the middle of nowhere. With frequent buses and metro service. Disgusting.

by H Street Landlord on Jan 30, 2012 11:32 pm • linkreport

"Taking the subway or biking to work seems cool at 20 but by 30 or 40 most people yearn for the comfort, freedom, safety, and reliability of the car. Urban living is destined to be a small niche market in the U.S. Read Wendell Cox, Randal O'Toole, and Joel Kotkin and see how the next 100 million Americans will be living in the suburbs and not in the classic urban cores."

Yes, yes, and a thousand times, "yes!" That's exactly what is happening in this country.

There is an American disconnect with the idea that public transportation is an acceptable means of getting your kids from point a to point b. In Europe, no problem. There are buses, trains, and walking trails. The emphasis is on functioning, reliable transportation methods that families can use.

In the U.S., people tend to view public transportation as being the means by which discarded working people are allowed to transit through industrial areas. If you take your kids on the bus or the Metro (granted, tourists are another matter altogether), you run into a host of kid-unfriendly situations. And don't bother bringing a stroller.

Smaller communities are especially challenged when it comes to public transportation. That's because we are no where near ending our addiction to foreign oil and large vehicles. And self-entitlement, too. Can't forget that while I'm "telling everyone how to live."

by Warren Jason Street on Jan 31, 2012 10:05 am • linkreport

"If the millenials weren't such class snobs. And moved were they can afford ala SE near transportation, affordable housing, "

Yuppie Boomers who gentrified back in the 80s tended to do so in areas adjacent to already "desirable" areas. They, like the college educated millenials today (funny how a an african american 20 yo is not a "millenial", just like guys who served in Viet Nam are not "boomers"), avoided areas high in crime, or perceived as high in crime, etc. I suppose one could claim that in the 80s crime really was higher than now.

As the parent of a millenial (still in college) I'm not sure I care for the "dont be so anxious about crime" meme. Anyway, we could have a whole long discussion about realities vs perceptions of crime, the impact of race and built environment on crime, etc. Misperception of crime may be an error, but its not class snobbery.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jan 31, 2012 10:18 am • linkreport

@HSt LL-I can't believe someone negatively cited an areas as "far past the transition line" - what does that even mean?

Just to be clear, I never said this or suggested it. My focus was on what's considered walkable.

by Tina on Jan 31, 2012 1:20 pm • linkreport

@Warren Jason Street,

Simple economics is what will ultimately doom the suburbs. Regardless of whether Americans prefer the suburbs or not, they're unwilling to pay the true cost of infrastructure which serves fewer people per capita. Sparsely populated areas require a net subsidy from more densely populated areas. Add in the fact that even correcting for inflation, infrastructure in general is more expensive than years ago. These two facts alone are enough to spell the eventual end of the suburbs but that isn't the entire story. Energy is getting more expensive and salaries are stagnant, even decreasing in terms of purchasing power. An energy-intensive suburban lifestyle will soon be beyond the means of all but the upper few percent. We can fight this trend, continue to spend vast sums of money propping up the suburbs, or we can accept reality, build more affordable urban housing, transit, and cycling/walking infrastructure. In the end the latter will serve us well indefinitely, while any money spent on the suburbs is only prolonging the inevitable.

And living in areas which don't require a car isn't something which only appeals to 20-somethings. I'm 49 and stayed in NYC even through the crime waves in the 1980s because the alternative-living in a sterile suburb, being dependent on an expensive piece of machinery, and isolated from my fellow human beings, was worse.

by Joe R. on Jan 31, 2012 2:18 pm • linkreport

"I can't believe someone negatively cited an areas as "far past the transition line" - what does that even mean? "

The geographic distinction between areas that have had major private sector reinvestment, improved (usually) figures on crime and quality of life, and increases in the income and education levels of residents. Which are generally adjacent to areas that have not - I think most people who walk around the denser parts of DC know what that means.

I'm sorry if pointing out a geographic fact that impacts real estate dramatically in DC is politically incorrect.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jan 31, 2012 2:38 pm • linkreport

@AWalkerITC, also risk of being a victim of crime, real and perceived, affects walkability.

by Tina on Jan 31, 2012 2:45 pm • linkreport

Since everyone's contributing to the longevity of this thread, I just wanted to chime in here to underline one of my favorite "Wendell Cox, Randal O'Toole, and Joel Kotkin" fallacies:

...the next 100 million Americans will be living in the suburbs and not in the classic urban cores...

There is no question that over the coming decades, there's going to be a larger population growth in the suburbs than in the city. This is for the same reason that most of the population growth in the DC metro area is not going to be in, say, Potomac, MD.

Of course, if one were to argue (as they do) that Potomac, MD is a failed community because "more people are choosing not to live there", one would be hooted off one's soapbox.

(The real question is whether DC will grow to be uniformly upper middle-class and wealthy, or whether we can continue to move towards socioeconomic diversity without swinging too far in the opposite direction from where we are now. If all of DC looks like Georgetown in 50 years, that's arguably a failure.)

by oboe on Jan 31, 2012 2:54 pm • linkreport

To all the commenters who think this is the way markets are allowed to work, you are forgetting about zoning. The market can't respond to the demand for ddenser affordable housing because housing is so heavily regulated by local government. Essentially neighbors who already own property are able to use zoning to restrict new development to keep prices artificially high, protecting their investment. After all, housing costis and "property values" are twoin sides ofinstead the sam coin. If the market were allowed to operate, the American landscape would look vastly different, and housing choices would be a lot more varied.

by Elwood on Jan 31, 2012 3:08 pm • linkreport

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