Nina K. Dastur and Ed Lazere's May 9 Close to Home piece "A Bad Deal for D.C. Housing" implied that tying the Housing Production Trust Fund formula to local real estate trends is appropriate. That fails to capture the more crucial reality of the affordable-housing dilemma -- the location of the supply. Affordable housing can be found in dramatically different amounts and proportions, for example, in Prince George's County and in parts of the District than in Fairfax.

Second, the statement that "the market [is] going through the roof" is a red herring. Yes, values are rising dramatically in such places as Bethesda and Clarendon. And they are rising regionally. But they are hardly rising evenly.

Marshall Heights and other east-of-the-river neighborhoods remain astonishingly affordable. Swaths of housing in Northwest between Ninth and Third streets are also affordable. Advocates of affordable housing often measure the shortage of supply on a regional basis and overlook untapped reservoirs of housing.

By drawing attention to the District's average gain of 83 percent in home prices in the past five years, the authors also do not point out that low-demand neighborhoods in Wards 7 and 8 have lagged far behind. These neighborhoods continue to lose stable middle-class households to jurisdictions that offer better schools and quality of life. When middle-market working-class families exercise their options to leave the city, the effect on the District is continued fiscal stress.

Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) was right to recognize that the District's challenge is not a short supply of affordable housing but a short supply of middle-market households that want to live and reinvest in the city and a short supply of marketable neighborhoods east of 16th Street.

Finally, the article referred to the matter as an "affordable housing crisis" only in the context of the District. The real dilemma is not in the District but in Montgomery, Loudoun and Fairfax counties, which also happen to be where jobs are being disproportionately located in this region.

What the writers ought to have argued for is not more money for the District's Housing Production Trust Fund but a regional affordable housing trust supported in part by all the jurisdictions in our area.



The writer was a consultant to the federal Millennial Housing Commission.