Nov 7, 2023 - Real Estate

Where new homes were built in D.C. over the last 20 years

 A view of the Union Market area, with a new mural on a building and people crossing the street.

Union Market is one of the few neighborhoods booming with new housing. Photo: Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Roughly 40% of the new homes that popped up in D.C. between 2000 and 2020 were built on just 5% of the land, a recent Brookings study reveals.

Why it matters: The data shows just how heavily development is concentrated in a few neighborhoods — and how large swaths of the city have built little new housing.

State of play: D.C.'s population boomed by roughly 20% in those two decades.

  • Nearly 30% of the new housing in that time was built in five neighborhoods, including Union Market, south of Shaw, West End, and between lower 14th and 15th streets, according to analyzed census data.
  • The next five fastest-growing neighborhoods produced the rest of the 10% of housing. All neighborhoods were north of the National Mall and south of Florida Avenue — with the exception of Navy Yard.
A map of D.C.'s fasting growing neighborhoods
Source: Brookings Metro. Analysis of 2000 decennial census, 2020 American Community Survey from Jenny Schuetz.

Zoom out: The upside of the trend is that the development grew many neighborhoods.

  • Yes, but: Around the same time period, D.C. had the greatest "intensity of gentrification" in the country, according to a study from 2019.

What they're saying: Upper Northwest, far reaches of Northeast and east of the Anacostia River built relatively little over those two decades, explains study co-author Jenny Schuetz.

  • "We've got some very wealthy, mostly white neighborhoods that build absolutely little to no housing," Schuetz tells Axios, noting Cleveland Park as an example.
  • "Families with kids are really being kept out of the most desirable neighborhoods."

Between the lines: Places like Arlington have had big fights over eliminating single-family-only zoning, but a similar debate hasn't taken off in D.C.

What to watch: Development around Farragut West, Federal Center Southwest, and Buzzard Point are areas where new housing could be concentrated next.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Washington D.C..


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Washington D.C. stories

No stories could be found

Washington D.C.postcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Washington D.C..


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more