Thursday, December 16, 2010

Ward One's population is shrinking??

That's what the Census estimates from the American Community Survey say. I find that hard to believe.


Greater Greater Washington writers and commenters attribute it to lower family sizes in Ward 1 as new single residents or couples come in, replacing families, while William Jordan attributes it to "Pay to play land speculation," displacement by gentrifiers and a Census estimate revision from a few years ago. 


In 2006, a Census estimate came out saying the city's population had dropped, to which the city disagreed, citing new construction and increased tax filings in the city. The Census looked again and revised the estimate up, meaning the city gained population for the first time since 1950. Jordan says this re-estimate was too high, and thus this new estimate is correct.


Here's my take: there certainly has been displacement, and that's something we need to look at, but there's also been tons of new construction. Look at 14th Street, where many new condo and apartment buildings replaced abandoned buildings and empty lots. I can't think of any examples where they replaced occupied apartment buildings.


And all over the neighborhood, abandoned houses have been renovated into multiple housing units. Sure, most of the newcomers don't have families, but some do or are couples. To me, hundreds of new people moving into new condos and apartments would be more than the number of families who move out of houses and are replaced by one or two people.


Mike DeBonis also tweeted that Ward 1 voter registration is up 25% over the past 7 years.


Of course, this is just an estimate, and may be wrong. The ACS is based on samples of data rather than actual counts, and it's also an average over five years. We'll see when the 2010 Census numbers come out.


Update: Jordan did not attribute who is doing the displacing.


Photo by Mr. T in DC

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

In an area where there is tight regulation of landlords how are people displaced by new development. By DC law rent can only be raised slightly above inflation. So, new development and rising rents shouldn't be adversely existing renters as they are locked in to lower rents than people who move into the neighborhood. For owners who have lived here for a long time they do have an incentive to move if after new development as their property value is likely to have risen. However, to call this displacement is to give the word a positive connotation and alter the meaning of the word.

I suspect that discussions of displacement are centered around discomfort with the changing character of the name, i.e. whitey's movin' in.

Anonymous said...

let me correct typos in the above post...

In an area where there is tight regulation of landlords, how are people displaced by new development? By DC law rent can only be raised slightly above inflation. So, new development and rising rents shouldn't be adversely affecting existing renters as they are locked in to lower rents than people who move into the neighborhood. For owners who have lived here for a long time they do have an incentive to move if after new development their property value has risen. However, to call this displacement is to give the word a positive connotation and alter the meaning of the word.

I suspect that discussions of displacement are rooted in discomfort with the changing character of the neighborhood, i.e. whitey's movin' in.

Anon2 said...

" By DC law rent can only be raised slightly above inflation."

That's false. If a landlord rents out fewer than four properties in the district, then he or she is exempt from rent control laws and can raise the rent as high as he or she wants. I've lived in DC for 6 years and I've only ever lived in units exempt from rent control for this reason.

Anonymous said...

In 1999 through about 2002 there was a huge effort to go after so called "slum lords" in the Ward. Many lived in substandard conditions. The way the crackdown was done displaced lots of people.

By around 2004 - 2007, there was a mass efforts at condo conversion and run away real estate speculation. And lots of stories about how developers displaced large numbers of people legally and illegally.

By 2007/8/9 the bubble began popping then popped. Leaving a good number of projects frozen and under sold. Empty condo project began to convert back to rental. There are projects that were full of folk now empty.

In terms of voter registration. There are likely more adults and movement of populations that were not full citizens being replaced by those who could register.

William

Anonymous said...

Using ACS to try to estimate population like this is a bad idea. It isn't designed to do that.

ACS is designed to take a snapshot of the population so that we can figure out population-wide statistics like housing characteristics, demographic information, etc. It's all run off the same estimates that the census was making that in 2006 were argued against by DC.

I think when the 2010 census data comes out we will see that this estimate and population estimates as a whole will have been way off. We saw the same thing happen in 2000. The reason is that pivoting off the same data for a decade is a worthless endeavor - after 10 years the census is VERY outdated.