- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 2, 2003

Home construction rose in the District last year, buoyed by D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams’ campaign to attract new residents to the city.

The Fannie Mae Foundation said in a report this week that 40,257 housing units were authorized for construction in 2002, the highest in 20 years, and new home building rose for the sixth year in a row. There are more than 30,000 housing units either recently completed, under construction or planned in the District.

Mr. Williams wants to attract 100,000 new residents by improving and adding housing in city neighborhoods. In 2002, the District authorized 400 permits for 1,300 units. Permits for about 400 housing units were authorized downtown, and the neighborhoods near Howard University and Logan Circle each had 200 units approved.

Despite the increase in housing stock, Fannie Mae warned that the District is home to a disproportionate number of low-income families.

While the District makes up 13 percent of the region’s population, it houses about 25 percent of the region’s poor families. And about 70 percent of District residents with incomes under $35,000 per year pay more than what is recommended for housing. The average home price in the District in 2002 was $348,000, 57 percent higher than in 1999.

Unaffordable housing

Housing advocates say the reason many Americans don’t have health insurance is because they are forced to spend too much of their income on housing.

The Census Bureau said last week that 40 million Americans went without health insurance in 2002. The National Housing Conference responded to those figures by blaming the rising cost of housing across the county, which has forced many families to choose between proper health care and places to live.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development recommends that families spend no more than 30 percent of their income on housing. But that’s not possible for many families, according to the NHC.

The Center for Housing Policy, which serves as the research arm for the NHC, said there has been a 67 percent rise this year in the number of families spending more than half their income on rent or a mortgage.

The NHC said the issue of affordable housing should be given as much priority as health insurance in Congress. And, the group said policies designed to address shortages in health care, food and transportation should include a strategy for making housing less costly.

In other news…

• Franklin Templeton Companies LLC leased 27,994 square feet at 1133 Connecticut Ave. NW. Grubb and Ellis helped broker the lease. Terms were not disclosed.

• Vision Settlements, a mortgage title company, leased 4,423 square feet of office space at 7900 and 7920 Norfolk Ave. in Bethesda. Manekin LLC represented Vision Settlements while Douglas Development represented the landlord, Jemal Phillips LLC.

• Christopher Consultants Inc., a land-engineering firm, leased 6,058 square feet of office space at 7172 Columbia Gateway Drive, Suite 100, in Columbia.

Property Lines runs Fridays. Tim Lemke can be reached at tlemke@washingtontimes.com or 202/636/4836.

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