There’s already a housing crisis in the D.C. area. Will Amazon make it worse?

Housing in the D.C. area could get pricier with Amazon’s arrival — but increases would probably happen without the “Amazon effect,” economists say. / Photo by Tyrone Turner / WAMU

 

By Ally Schweitzer | WAMU

With Amazon officially coming to the Washington region, anxiety is mounting about one issue above all: What’s going to happen to local housing prices?

The concern is justified: The cost of living here is already a major strain on middle- and low-income residents. D.C. proper is the fourth most expensive city in North America alongside San Francisco, according to an analysis by The Economist. Nearly half of local renters and a quarter of homeowners pay more than a third of their income on housing, and 23 percent of renters are considered “severely cost burdened,” according to the Urban Institute.

Meanwhile, in Amazon’s current hometown of Seattle, the tech company created what one reporter called a “tsunami of growth,” doubling housing prices in six years and worsening homelessness in the process. So can we expect to see similar effects play out in the Washington region? Experts say it’s possible, but hardly guaranteed.

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