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Greater Washington Partnership Blueprint Report

Affordable Housing Affordable, Sustainable Housing in Thriving Communities

Defining Affordable Housing: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development defines affordable housing as housing in which the occupant is paying no more than 30% of their income for housing costs. Anyone paying more than 30% of their income on housing is considered housing-cost burdened.197

The Capital Region has experienced tremendous economic growth over the past decade. However, this growth in housing demand has outpaced supply and wages, creating an affordability crisis.176 The lack of affordable and attainable housing threatens regional economic competitiveness and vitality as fewer residents are able to maintain healthy, stable housing in the region.

Rising housing cost burdens have hit Black residents especially hard—as of 2017, there was a 17.9% Black-white gap in the percent of households that are rent burdened in the Capital Region—a figure that has likely only been exacerbated by the pandemic and rising rent prices.177 In 2021, rent prices rose 11% nationwide—in some parts of the Capital Region, rents rose nearly 22%.178 The numbers are not any better when it comes to homeownership: the gap in Black-white homeownership in the Capital Region is 25.2%, and is most severe in Baltimore at 30.9%.177 For those that do own homes, Black and Hispanic-owned median home values are typically lower than white-owned home values. One study found that owner-occupied homes in majority Black neighborhoods are undervalued by $48,000 on average per home, amounting to cumulative losses of $165B for Black homeowners across the country.179 These disparities exacerbate the racial equity gap and prevent our region from reaching its full economic potential.

There are severe economic impacts from the affordable housing crisis: nationwide, research shows that the affordable housing crisis costs the U.S. economy nearly $2 trillion per year in lost wages and productivity.180 Severe housing cost burdens do not only affect residents—they affect businesses and the community, too. Many renters and owners are finding themselves repeatedly displaced, and many are no longer able to afford to choose where they live. Housing prices are growing in each major city within the Capital Region—Richmond has experienced the highest 5-year change in median home price at 50.4%, followed by Baltimore at 34%, and Washington, D.C. at 22.8%. All three cities’ median income growth has lagged behind home prices in this timeframe.181 Without sufficient wage growth and an adequate of supply of housing, new talent is less likely to come to the region, and the existing workforce is less likely to stay. One study found that the second most-commonly cited reason for leaving the District (behind job change) is for “new or better housing,” and the third most-commonly cited is for “other housing reason.”182

Affordable Housing:
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
defines affordable housing as housing in which the occupant is paying no more than
30% of their income for housing costs.
Anyone paying more than 30% of their income on housing is considered housing-cost burdened183

The public, private, and nonprofit sectors must work together to address the housing crisis across the region. Large-scale financial investment and public policy change is required to meet our region’s housing needs and promote an inclusive economy where all community members can thrive.

Affordable Housing
Affordable, Sustainable Housing in Thriving Communities
  • Expand housing affordability
    Solution 1 Expand housing affordability Expand and preserve affordable housing options throughout the region

    In Washington D.C., the annual household income needed to afford the average one-bedroom apartment under the HUD threshold is $87,893, and the annual income needed for a two-bedroom apartment is $120,457. This puts housing out of reach for the tens of thousands of households making less than D.C.’s annual median income of $92,266.184

    As housing becomes increasingly unattainable, businesses face difficulty attracting and retaining talent, which has implications for community investment, economic growth, and the region’s vitality and competitiveness. Many essential workers (i.e., teachers, healthcare workers, etc.) are finding it increasingly difficult to afford housing near their place of work. Affordable and sustainable housing promotes long-term viability and success for the region, and the business community has an important role to play in partnership with the public and nonprofit sectors in the following three areas:

    • Investing in a regional public-private pooled fund to finance affordable housing development

    • Advocating for zoning policies that generate more housing throughout the region, including policies that provide flexibility on where and what type of housing can be built to increase housing stock

    • Supporting the design and implementation of equitable mortgage application practices such as credit score alternatives


    Recommendation 1 Pooled Investment Invest in a regional public-private pooled fund to finance affordable housing development

    As of March 2021, each major metro area in the Capital Region had a deficit of affordable and available units for households at or below 50% of area median income (AMI).185 This deficit has severe social and economic impacts for individuals, families, and the broader community and makes it more difficult for employers to attract and retain workers. According to one recent survey, nearly 1 in 4 District residents would consider moving out of D.C., with the majority seeking to move out of the region entirely. The most cited reason is housing affordability.186

    As of March 2021, each metro area had a deficit of affordable and available units for household at or below 50% of area media income (AMI), respectively185

    D.C. Deficit

    Baltimore Deficit

    Richmond Deficit

    147,023 units

    55,591 units

    26,348 units

    The business community can pool resources to create and sustain a region-wide investment fund to provide low-cost loans and financing for affordable housing developments. While some companies in the region have started affordable housing funds, a broader, region-wide approach that addresses affordable housing construction, preservation and rehabilitation is needed to scale impact

    Expected Impacts

    • Community: An increased supply and availability of affordable housing units will help residents stay in the Capital Region, secure stable employment, and generate wealth, while also facilitating social connections and strengthening communities

    • Private
      Talented workers are attracted to the region and existing workers are more likely to stay, allowing the region to build and sustain a strong workforce

    Efforts in Progress

    • Regional Bright Spot: The Amazon
      Housing Equity Fund
      is a $2B commitment to create and preserve affordable housing through low- rate loans, grants, and partnerships with local governments and nonprofit agencies

    • National Bright Spot: The Dane
      Workforce Housing Fund
      in Madison, WI aims to create affordable workforce housing units in Dane County. Fourteen regional employers and community organizations invested $11.85M into the fund, which offers a modest return on investment for affordable housing development

    Implementation Considerations

    • Housing investment funds should focus on both building new affordable housing units and preserving existing affordable housing stock

    • Businesses should consider partnering with the public sector and trusted community organizations to develop and support affordable housing

    • New affordable housing should be developed in high-demand areas that are facing rapidly rising housing costs to offset displacement of existing community members

    Recommendation 2 Pro-Growth Zoning Advocacy Advocate for zoning policies that generate more housing throughout the region, including policies that provide flexibility on where and what type of housing can be built (e.g., multi-family, accessory-dwelling units, etc.) to increase housing stock

    Since its invention in the early 20th century, zoning has often been used as a tool to prevent neighborhood change. Existing zoning policies that favor single-family housing can hinder affordable housing development at scale, contributing to the lack of supply amid surging demand. In the District of Columbia, 59% of land zoned for residential use is single-family.188 This prevents dense multi-family development, which is needed to increase the number of units in the District. Implementing flexible zoning policies that allow more units to be built can expand the housing supply, promote environmental sustainability, and ultimately drive down costs—especially in areas that are close to transit and jobs and are in high-demand. Without an adequate supply of housing, the region’s affordability crisis will only get worse—threatening the economic sustainability and vitality of the region by driving away workers and businesses.

    Businesses have an opportunity to support and advocate for policies that help increase the supply of housing, and, in turn, attract and retain workers.

    Expected Impacts

    • Community: More flexibility on where and how housing can be developed will expand housing supply, especially in fast-growing, high-cost areas. Areas with restrictive zoning experience little new housing development, whereas areas with more flexible zoning laws attract more developers, and thus more housing construction189

    • Private
      Increased development and availability of housing in high-demand areas and near transit allows businesses to better attract and retain workers and reduces transportation costs.

      Increased housing development near job centers and transit can reduce transportation costs for workers, lowering absenteeism

    Efforts in Progress

    • Regional
      Bright Spots:
      In 2016,
      approved changes to zoning requirements that allowed for higher buildings near Metro stations In 2021, Montgomery County passed the More
      Housing at
      Stations Act
      , which incentivizes new housing construction near rail stations by providing a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) for a period of 15 years for new high-rise developments that include at least 50 percent rental housing

    • In 2019, the
      County Board
      adopted new standards that permit the establishment of detached accessory dwelling units, providing increased flexibility for homeowners to convert existing accessory buildings into housing.

    Implementation Considerations

    • There are numerous state, county, and city-level jurisdictions across the Capital Region, and coordinated, streamlined zoning policies are needed. For example, housing density should not only be increased in lower-cost areas, but also added in higher-cost areas where the demand for housing is especially high

    • Zoning changes can pave the way for increased housing development but must be paired with significant financial investment for construction

    • Increased housing density is especially needed near transit and job centers to reduce commute times and reliance on single-occupancy vehicles, both of which have clear environmental impacts

    • While zoning is a public process, businesses can leverage their influence to signal their support for more inclusive zoning policies that expand housing access by framing it as a business imperative that affects their ability to attract and retain workers

    • Advocacy to expand housing supply should be paired with short- term efforts to improve affordability of existing units

    Recommendation 3 Equitable Loan Processes Support the design and implementation of equitable mortgage application practices such as credit score alternatives

    Credit scores are one of the leading factors in mortgage application decisions, creating a barrier for those with limited or no credit history. Nearly 45 million Americans do not have a credit score, cutting them off from accessing many banking products, including mortgages.190 Racial disparities in credit scores perpetuate the racial homeownership gap—Black mortgage applicants are denied 84% more often than white applicants, an increase of 10 percentage points since 2019. Credit history is the most commonly cited reason that Black applicants are denied a mortgage.191

    As of 2019, there was a 25.2% gap in Black-white homeownership in the Capital Region, increasing to 30.9% in Baltimore.177 Using alternative qualifying data, such as rent or utility payment history, cash flows, and other data not traditionally used in a credit report could help increase access to mortgages, especially for low-income individuals and those with no credit history. Borrower
    accessibility is further explored in Pillar 3
    in the context of business loans. While the current use of alternative data in mortgage lending is limited, a recent series of federal regulatory changes could pave the way for greater adoption, and early data shows promising results on the accuracy of using alternative factors to predict the risk of default or delinquency.

    Expected Impacts

    • Community: Workers and families are more likely to stay in the region if they can more easily purchase a home

      Increasing mortgage approval rates for Black and Hispanic residents creates an opportunity to build wealth through homeownership, which helps close the racial equity gap192

    • Private
      Employee productivity improves with access to stable housing, adding an additional financial benefit for employers.

      Financial institinancial institutions may be able to provide loans to more consumers while still accurately evaluating risk and could expand their potential client pool for a variety of banking products.

      There are clear financial and health benefits to homeownership – for example, homeowners are 3.1% more likely to have good health than renters due to stronger housing security and stability193

    Efforts in Progress

    • National
      Bright Spots:
      In September 2021, Fannie
      updated its automated underwriting system to consider a borrower’s 12-month positive rent payment history to help more first-time homeowners qualify for a mortgage

      Several national financial institutions, including Capital One, Synchrony Financial, and JPMorgan Chase & Co., are moving
      away from FICO credit scores
      for consumer-lending decisions and using alternative data, such as bank statements and other financial indicators

    Implementation Considerations

    • While financial institutions have a key role to play in changing loan approval processes, non-financial businesses can provide resources, such as financial counselors, to inform employees about potential loan products

    • Financial institutions and policy makers should partner with community groups to consider which alternative data options would best suit the communities in need

    • Use of alternative data could increase access to mortgages but could also lead to unfair lending risks if data is not used responsibly. For example, educational attainment is statistically lower for Black and Hispanic populations, so using education as an alternative metric for mortgage lending could exacerbate existing racial biases

    • Lenders must ensure that consumers know when and how their data is accessed to avoid consumer privacy risks

  • Support housing stability
    Solution 2 Support housing stability

    Poor housing quality and frequent moves can have negative impacts on mental and physical health, employment stability, and educational attainment.194 Workers who experience a forced move, such as eviction or foreclosure, are 11-22% more likely to lose their job.195 It is essential that affordable housing is not only available and attainable, but that it provides a safe and healthy environment as well. This means that homes are free of hazards such as mold, pests, structural issues, and more, and located in safe, well-resourced communities. Providing residents with access to housing opportunities is the first step to alleviating the housing crisis; ensuring individuals and families can safely remain in their homes is critical to long-term success.

    Investing in and supporting housing stability is an investment in the retention of the region’s workforce.

    Businesses have a vested interest in the housing stability of their employees—and that of the broader region, and can play a critical role in supporting both renters and homeowners to maintain stable housing through four key areas:

    • Partnering with the public sector to offer down payment assistance, rent subsidies, and other housing benefits to employees

    • Supporting public sector efforts to expand tenants’ rights education programs and funding for nonprofit eviction prevention programs such as emergency assistance grants

    • Partnering with public and nonprofit programs to make homebuying and homeownership education available to employees to help potential homebuyers navigate the process, access quality loan products, and explore alternative models of homeownership

    • Supporting efforts to improve the quality of affordable housing, including the safety and sustainability of housing units as well as the availability and accessibility of surrounding neighborhood resources


    Recommendation 1 Employer Assisted Housing Partner with the public sector to offer down payment assistance, rent subsidies, and other housing benefits to employees

    Rising housing prices across the region could displace many residents, ultimately threatening the stability of the region’s workforce. While there are many federal programs that aim to reduce housing cost burdens, it is estimated that only 24% of eligible households receive federal housing assistance due to insufficient funding, leaving a huge gap for those in need. 196

    Many employers already offer financial benefits for education, health, and retirement, and a growing number are beginning to provide benefits for housing through public sector partnerships. This may include down payment assistance, such as a match- savings program similar to employer 401(k) matching, or a voucher to use on rental housing. Employers are encouraged to explore public sector partnerships to provide access to housing benefits for their employees, especially since housing displacement can cause severe mental stress and lead to decreased productivity for affected workers.195

    Expected Impacts

    • Community: Employer-assisted housing programs can promote economic development and neighborhood revitalization by encouraging residents to stay, creating a stable employment and tax base197

    • Private
      Housing benefits for employees are likely to attract and retain talented workers198

      Stable housing has been shown to increase mental health, which increases productivity, decreases the likelihood of termination, and reduces training and turnover costs for employers194

    Efforts in Progress

    • Regional Bright Spot: INOVA Health Systems partnered with Fairfax County’s
      program to provide affordable rental housing for nurses and other allied health professionals

    • National Bright Spot: Live
      , an initiative of Midtown Detroit, Inc. partnered with three major institutions to subsidize rents and mortgage for employees in hopes of attracting and retaining residents to downtown Detroit.

    Implementation Considerations

    • Companies can consider providing financial benefits for housing to all employees, and not only full-time, high-earning workers

    • Employer-assisted housing programs should be available to both renters and homebuyers to maximize reach and effectiveness

    • Employer-built and managed housing poses a variety of risks for businesses and workers, including privacy concerns. Employers can instead consider offering financial support for employees to maintain their rent and/or purchase a home, preserving housing choice

    Recommendation 2 Tenant's Rights & Eviction Prevention Support public sector efforts to expand tenants’ rights education programs and funding for nonprofit eviction prevention programs such as emergency assistance grants

    Evictions are the biggest threat to housing stability for renters, as they can force residents into homelessness and make it more difficult to find future housing. Evictions are a severe challenge across the Capital Region: over 32,000 evictions were filed in D.C. between 2014 and 2018. In Baltimore, evictions of Black renters are three times higher than the number of white renters. And according to data from the Eviction Lab, Richmond has the second highest eviction rate in the country.199

    Once faced with an eviction, individuals are likely to be denied rental housing for years to come, perpetuating a cycle of instability and threatening their health, safety, and well-being. Furthermore, families with children are the most likely to be evicted compared to other types of renters, which hurts academic outcomes and can have long-term impacts on educational attainment and employment outcomes.200 While the federal government and many local jurisdictions implemented an eviction moratorium during the pandemic, it has since been lifted, putting thousands of renters in a precarious position.

    Renters facing eviction often have little access to legal representation and resources, exacerbating the harmful impacts of displacement. In eviction lawsuits nationwide, nearly 90% of landlords have legal representation, while only 10% of tenants do.201 Employers can support their employees by offering access or connection to subsidized and/or on-site legal education programs and attorney consultations to help employees understand their rights as tenants. By ensuring workers know their housing rights and providing resources to support them through various housing issues like eviction, employers can become part of the support system for residents. Employers can also aim to provide family-sustaining wages, as outlined in Pillar 2, to further support employees’ housing stability.

    Expected Impacts

    • Community: Emergency funds for families facing an unexpected hardship (e.g., medical emergency, family death, job loss, etc.) can often prevent eviction. In Milwaukee, evictions across the city fell by 15% when residents were given direct access to funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009202

    • Private
      Employees can better understand their rights and access legal assistance and resources. In one Philadelphia study, only 5% of tenants with legal representation were forcibly displaced from their homes, compared with 78% of unrepresented tenants203.

      Eviction prevention measures will help workers retain their housing, leading to higher productivity at work and a lower chance of job loss195

    Efforts in Progress

    • Regional Bright Spot: In 2020, Virginia allocated $3.3M to implement the
      Eviction Reduction Pilot
      . The program provides financial assistance to individuals for a variety of expenses – utilities, transportation, day care, rent and late fees, and more – to prevent eviction for renters at-risk

    • National Bright Spot: The Columbus Foundation’s Gifts
      of Kindness
      program provides one-time grants to individuals who experience an unexpected financial setback. 82% of administered grants are used for housing assistance

    Implementation Considerations

    • There are many organizations across the region that provide pro bono legal support and resources, and there is an opportunity for employers to partner with these organizations to connect employees in need

    • Tenant education is important but is limited by existing laws, which generally favor landlords—the public sector has a role to play in strengthening protections

    • There are a variety of organizations that provide eviction prevention programs and other support; employers can support and promote existing and proven programs rather than developing new efforts

    Recommendation 3 Homeownership Education Partner with public and nonprofit programs to make homebuying and homeownership education available to employees to help potential homebuyers navigate the process, access quality loan products, and explore alternative models of homeownership

    Homeownership often supports housing stability and has numerous financial and health benefits, yet many individuals struggle to navigate the homebuying process or face difficulties saving enough for a home. In one survey, 68% of renters cited saving for a down payment as an obstacle to home ownership, and 39% of renters believe that more than 20% is needed for a down payment – more than what is actually required.204 Improving access to educational programs on purchasing and maintaining a home can help close the racial homeownership gap and promote housing stability. Studies show that renters are five times more likely to move than homeowners, which can have negative effects on an individual’s health and financial stability, and hinder employers’ ability to retain workers.205

    The private sector can partner with the public and nonprofit sectors to provide education and counseling programs to employees who are currently homeowners as well as those interested in buying a home. Supporting homeownership education programs is a great low-cost first step for employers to invest in employee housing. Some employers have started to bring in finance professionals, real estate brokerage representatives, and other speakers to lead workshops on financial wellness, the steps to buying a home, mortgage refinancing, and other relevant topics. The value add for employers is clear: if employees buy a house, they are more likely to stay in the area, and thus more likely to stay at the company.206

    Expected Impacts

    • Community: When individuals are more informed about the homeownership journey, they have an opportunity to more adequately prepare for and maintain homeownership207

    • Private
      Employees who buy a home are likely to stay in the area.

      Employees who receive support for buying and maintaining a home are more likely to feel connected to the company

    Efforts in Progress

    • Regional Bright Spot: The Howard University Employee Credit Union offers a variety of mortgage resources – including a 24-hour hotline, educational programs for first-time homebuyers, and support with refinancing, closing costs, and loan programs.

    • National Bright Spot: Aflac
      partnered with the local Columbus, GA chapter of NeighborWorks to provide an Employer Assisted Housing Program that includes home buying education workshops, as well as down payment and closing cost assistance

    Implementation Considerations

    • Education programs should be provided to both current and aspiring homeowners. For aspiring homeowners, topics could include down payments, mortgage application process, HOA expectations, and more. For current homeowners, topics could focus on refinancing, unexpected maintenance, available tax incentives, etc.

    • Employers should consider partnering with organizations and individuals who work with populations that reflect their employee base

    • Homebuying education offered by employers can also help employees navigate housing benefits, and is a relatively low-level investment in terms of cost and time for employers

    Recommendation 4 Housing Quality Support efforts to improve the quality of affordable housing, including the safety and sustainability of housing units as well as the availability and accessibility of surrounding neighborhood resources

    To support long-term housing stability, it is essential that housing units are both affordable and safe. Poor-quality housing is associated with a variety of negative health outcomes, including injury, chronic disease, and poor mental health208 which can decrease worker productivity and increase healthcare costs for employers.209

    The link between poverty and substandard housing is well-documented, and Black and Hispanic populations are disproportionately more likely to live in poverty. Housing hazards, such as fires, are more likely to occur and cause injury in low-income neighborhoods.210 Housing quality issues pose a threat across the Capital Region. As of 2020, there were over 38,000 unresolved housing code violations reported in Washington, D.C..211 In Richmond, over 3,300 dedicated affordable housing units are over 50 years old and require significant investments to maintain safety,212 and in Baltimore, there are over 16,000 vacant properties, which contributes to numerous community health and safety issues.213 Many low-income homeowners cannot afford to make necessary repairs, and many renters watch their maintenance requests go unaddressed, which can lead to preventable health and safety issues.

    Businesses can help to address housing quality by supporting targeted investments and advocating for policies that protect tenants facing housing issues. Unsafe and unhealthy housing can cause stress for employees214 and increase the chances of housing displacement, which threatens the productivity and retention of workers.215

    Expected Impacts

    • Community: Targeted investments can provide low-income households with more access to financing for necessary improvements to their homes to increase housing safety.

      have stronger protections in housing quality issues, landlords will likely be further incentivized to make needed repairs

    • Private
      Better-quality housing can improve the health of the workforce, which increases worker productivity and decreases health costs for employers195

    Efforts in Progress

    • Regional
      Bright Spots:
      in Richmond provides home repairs to low-income individuals to improve housing safety and sustainability and help people stay in their homes

      The Baltimore
      Department of Housing and Community Development provides forgivable or deferred loans to finance home improvements and repairs

      Blight Baltimore
      aims to address the issue of blight by creating a mobile application that identifies, reports, and analyzes blight data to support development of blighted properties.

    Implementation Considerations

    • Many home improvement programs are federally funded, leaving significant gaps at the state and local level. A regional investment pool can be transformative by supporting the improvement of the region’s housing stock

    • Grants and low-cost loans can be provided to individual homeowners, as well as nonprofits and rental housing providers, as many individual homeowners do not have sufficient funds to make necessary improvements

    • Code enforcement can have unintended consequences of displacing people, so stricter enforcement efforts should be paired with financial assistance for displaced renters

  • Decrease homelessness
    Solution 3 Decrease homelessness Reduce the Number Of Unhoused Individuals In the Capital Region

    The homelessness crisis in the Capital Region poses a major threat to community health, safety, and wellbeing and carries significant costs.216 While homelessness has been a challenge for our region for many years, the crisis has worsened in the face of rising home prices and the pandemic’s impact on the economy, particularly job stability.217 There are severe racial disparities in the homeless population: across the U.S., Black individuals make up 13% of the population, but 40% of the homeless population, which further exacerbates racial gaps in health and wealth.218

    According to a report by the Partnership to End Homelessness, the Greater Washington Community Foundation, and the D.C. Interagency Council on

    Homelessness, there is a critical need for flexible risk capital for investment, broad-based advocacy, and cross-sector coordination to address homelessness. This challenge cannot be addressed by the public and social sectors alone – businesses also have a role to play in alleviating this crisis and can support in the following ways:

    • Supporting public and nonprofit efforts that provide immediate permanent housing and wrapround services (mental health support, job placement and training, etc.) for individuals and families experiencing homelessness

    • Supporting interim housing solutions to provide immediate shelter and stability to unhoused individuals and families


    Recommendation 1 Permanent Supportive Housing Support public and nonprofit efforts that provide immediate permanent housing and wrapround services (mental health support, job placement and training, etc.) for individuals and families experiencing homelessness

    Experiencing homelessness can have a severe impact on mental and physical health. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates that at least 45% of the homeless population have a mental illness, and at least 25% are severely mentally ill.219 Widespread homelessness can impact the availability of healthcare resources, as emergency department utilization is three times more likely for homeless patients than the U.S. norm.220 Furthermore, patients experiencing homelessness are likely to stay in the hospital for an average of 4.1 days longer, with an additional cost of $2,414 per day.221 According to the most recent Point-in-Time countY, there are over 8,300 homeless individuals in the D.C. metro area, the highest number in any Capital Region jurisdiction.222

    One of the most impactful strategies to alleviate the region’s homelessness crisis is to expand the supply of affordable housing to help prevent homelessness in the first place. However, it is important to acknowledge that for individuals who are currently unhoused, the path to stable housing can be difficult and requires longer-term support. Dedicated, permanent housing with wraparound social services support on-site can help people move toward independent housing stability. Businesses can support existing homeless-focused public and nonprofit services by providing funding to bridge existing gaps, or investing in job training and placement services for individuals experiencing homelessness.

    Expected Impacts

    • Community: Participants of Housing-First programsZ are more likely to maintain stable housing and employment than those who do not receive hWashington D.C., 681 individualsousing-first interventions223.

      Investing and supporting housing stability for young people improves school performance and decreases the chance that they will experience homelessness later in life, strengthening long-term employment outcomes216

    • Private
      The use of shelters as long-term housing is expensive and puts a strain on public and community resources. Providing individuals experiencing homelessness with housing can save taxpayers nearly $20,000 per person.223 This could ultimately make the region more attractive to businesses and workers

    Efforts in Progress

    • Regional Bright Spot: Pathways
      to Housing

      combines housing with a client-centered approach that includes supportive treatment services in mental and physical health, substance abuse, education, and employment

    • National Bright Spot: The City of Seattle
      saved $3.2M in one year after implementing Housing First policies

    Implementation Considerations

    • Housing should be paired with wraparound social services, which are shown to increase the likelihood that recipients maintain permanent housing,223 and those services should be easily accessible and inclusive for individuals experiencing homelessness. Many individuals may not seek out resources due to stigma and/or lack of awareness of services available

    • HUD identifies Housing First as the most effective approach to ending chronic homelessness; it is a long-term solution and may be complemented by short-term solutions like transitional housing, which only provides housing for a short amount of time, but acts as a helpful stopgap

    Recommendation 2 Interim Housing Support public and nonprofit efforts that provide immediate permanent housing and wrapround services (mental health support, job placement and training, etc.) for individuals and families experiencing homelessness

    People across the region lose their housing every day due to eviction, unsafe conditions, domestic violence, and other issues. On any given night, in Baltimore 2,193 people stay in emergency shelters, transitional housing, or on the streets,224 while in Washington D.C., 681 individuals experiencing homelessness are unsheltered.225There are thousands of people across the region who do not have reliable shelter, which negatively impacts public health and community safety, inflicting high social and economic costs across the region.226 Providing emergency shelter for these situations is critical while actively pursuing the long-term goal of providing access to permanent housing.

    Expected Impacts

    • Community: Emergency shelter can provide immediate safety and security after losing housing from eviction, domestic violence, or other emergencies, and can help to eliminate some of the health and safety risks of living unsheltered

    • Private Sector: Providing shelter to individuals experiencing homelessness can help to improve community health, safety, and overall well-being, which can improve quality of life for all residents and make the region more attractive and competitive226

    Efforts in Progress

    • Regional Bright Spot: The Homeless
      Connection Line
      in Richmond assists households within 3 days of losing housing to help access emergency resources and connect to homeless assistance

    Implementation Considerations

    • While emergency shelter is not a long-term solution, it addresses the immediate needs of the community and is an important first step to alleviating the homelessness crisis

    • Many individuals experiencing homeless turn down emergency shelter due to safety risks, stringent rules and regulations, crowded conditions, and other issues. Providing inclusive and comfortable options can reduce crowding and account for different needs, such as substance abuse treatment

Case Study: JBG SMITH Impact Pool

Launched in 2018 by JBG SMITH and the Federal City Council, the Washington Housing Initiative (WHI) is a transformational, market-driven approach to preserve and create affordable workforce housing throughout the DC metro region. Through its two primary vehicles – the Washington Housing Conservancy and the Impact Pool – WHI seeks to ensure that essential workers like teachers, nurses, first responders, and their families have access to high-quality housing in amenity-rich neighborhoods near great schools, public transportation, and job opportunities.

The Washington Housing Conservancy (WHC) is an independent 501(c)3 whose mission is to preserve affordable housing, avoid displacement, and promote economic mobility, particularly for moderate- to low-income residents of color.

The Impact Pool is a private investment vehicle that provides the financing that enables the preservation of affordable multifamily housing in the DC metro region for local workers who are the lifeblood of their communities. The Impact Pool adheres to the following key principles:

  • Focus on high-impact locations
  • Commit to long-term affordability
  • Invest at scale with speed, certainty, & flexibility
  • Sustain and strengthen inclusive communities
  • Build a replicable model that can be used by other communities

In 2020, the Impact Pool completed its first round of fundraising, with almost $115 million in investor commitments secured, primarily from financial institutions, foundations, and local businesses. To date, the Impact Pool has deployed over $66 million and preserved 1,750 units. Several regional corporations invest in the Impact Pool, including Partnership organizations: Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase & Co and Wells Fargo. The Impact Pool is managed by JBG SMITH Impact Manager, a subsidiary of JBG SMITH Properties.

Case Study: Live Near Your Work Baltimore

Live Near Your Work is a partnership between the City of Baltimore and over 100 local employers that provides funds to employees to use toward a down payment or closing costs for homes in designated Baltimore neighborhoods.

Depending on the employer, incentives range from $2,000 to $18,500 and are funded partially by employers and partially by the city government. The goal of the program is to help employees secure stable housing near their work and live in Baltimore long-term.

Some employers also provide homebuying courses and 1:1 pre-purchase counseling to further assist with the process. Several Greater Washington Partnership partner organizations participate in the program, including The Annie E. Casey Foundation, Exelon, Harbor Bank of Maryland, Johns Hopkins University, and Under Armour.

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