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In whose backyards has D.C. built new housing?
District of Columbia    
Publication Date
Brookings Institution
This study analyzes where housing permits were issued in Washington, D.C., between 2008 and 2015. The author found that 80 percent of new residences were built in only 8 of the city's 40 neighborhoods, and no units were built in one-third of the neighborhoods. In addition, buildings with more than 50 units accounted for 70 percent of the new housing.

In particular, the author sought to determine which neighborhoods had the greatest increase in housing supply and which neighborhoods should have experienced an increase. Contrary to basic economic theory, the study found that new, dense housing was not built in neighborhoods with the highest land values.

The report posits that zoning regulations are a major reason for this unexpected finding. Almost all of the high-value neighborhoods were zoned for low-density single-family housing. Further, residents of those areas voiced opposition to more permissive zoning at public hearings for the city's comprehensive plan update.

Since most of the housing construction did not occur in high-value neighborhoods, those neighborhoods did not provide their "fair share" of housing, according to the author. The undersupply of luxury housing in affluent neighborhoods forced demand to spread to nearby moderate-income areas, which were then susceptible to gentrification and increased rents.