Last week, my colleague Emily Badger wrote about one of the main factors that has allowed Ben’s Chili Bowl to survive in its gentrifying U Street NW neighborhood: property ownership.
The family behind the D.C. landmark purchased the original Ben’s Chili Bowl building that it rented in 1982, allowing it to stay in a neighborhood with rapidly increasing rent prices.
Property ownership is one of the keys ways to keep longtime residents and businesses in fast-changing neighborhoods — neighborhoods where rent prices are dramatically increasing as higher-income residents move in.
District, Measured, which is a blog from the District’s Office of the Chief Financial Officer, has data showing that homeownership among D.C.’s low-income residents is decreasing, suggesting that the city’s lowest-income residents could continue to leave the city.
In 2001, 31 percent of low-income households — households that earn less than $26,807 and fall in the bottom 25 percent of District households’ incomes — owned their homes. In 2014, only 19 percent of low-income households owned their homes. That a 40 percent decrease in the rate of homeownership among low-income residents.
Homeownership among high-income residents — those in the top 25 percent of household earners with an annual income of more than $142,700 — also declined in that time, although not as precipitously. Homeownership in this income group dropped from 77 to 72 percent. Middle income households stayed at 43 percent during this period.
Homes in the District last year sold for an average of more than three times the price of 2001, making homeownership out of reach for many low-income households. Nationwide, housing prices increased 45 percent.
And here’s how D.C. homeownership rates compare with the nationwide rate:
As District, Measured notes, it’s clear that homeownership in the District is shifting toward middle- and high-income residents. And there are many factors contributing to the overall decline in property ownership, including a transient population, limited housing stock, increasing prices and an increase in the number of singles who, across all income levels, are less likely to buy a house.