D.C.’s shadow rental market, comprising of housing units rented out by owners, is the main source of lodging for low and middle-income families, a new D.C. Policy Center report said.
D.C.’s rental market has about 82,000 housing units, which makes it about 26 percent of the district’s total housing stock, according to the official estimates.
About 46 percent of housing units, which are not apartments, also come under shadow rental market, including about 22,000 single family homes and 55,000 units in cooperative buildings.
Analysis of units that can house a family of four or more showed that the single-family housing stock is the biggest source of affordable housing units.
The study found that families earning between 50 and 80 percent of Area Median Income (AMI) can afford about 18,400 family units, out of which the owners are not living in 7,725. Majority of these units unoccupied by owners – 5,217 – are single-family homes.
In comparison, low-income families can pick from only 1,245 units out of more than 118,000 D.C.’s rental apartments, with most of them found in Far South neighborhoods of Ward 8.
The study also found that many low and middle-income families, who are more prone to displacement in D.C., are able to find housing in shadow market rentals. The report states that many neighborhoods around Deanwood and Ford Dupont in Ward 7 are providing rental housing to low-income families who are able to cover the living costs from government vouchers and subsidies.
If well-off singles and couples compete for these housing units with low-income families, the study points out, the owners can also leave their units, as was the case in newly gentrified neighborhoods of Mount Pleasant, Petworth and Brookland.