Why rent has risen so high in the area

Saturday, December 25, 2010; 6:01 PM

Regarding the Dec. 21 front-page article "Region's tenants caught in a clamp":

A major reason for the 22 percent jump in rents (inflation-adjusted) over the past decade in this area is the serious imbalance of jobs and housing units. That imbalance is long-standing, worsening and strongly related to government policies. A proper balance generally is one housing unit for every 1.5 jobs in the community, as determined by the American Planning Association. Yet local governments still seek growth that would produce an even greater disparity between jobs and available housing.

For example, Fairfax County has had among the largest jobs/housing imbalances in the region. Yet, last summer its Board of Supervisors approved plans for a greatly expanded Tysons Corner, with approximately four jobs per household. The other communities along the new Metrorail corridor, all the way to the Loudoun County line, are projected to have even greater jobs and housing imbalances, according to George Mason University's Center for Regional Analysis.

Most other area governments pursue similar policies, which can increase local government revenue. But they cause increased poverty, homelessness, suburban sprawl, extreme commutes, clogged highways, fuel consumption and environmental problems, as well as housing market instability. Area governments should consistently promote a proper jobs/housing balance in the community.

Thomas A. Loftus, Vienna

The writer is president of the Equitable Housing Institute.

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