Cost of Housing, Mega-Regions, Energy Use To Define the Next Half-Century

May 30, 2007

Robert Lang, Steven Fuller, Jim Vance, Harriet Tregoning, Michael Rogers

By the year 2057, the average home in metropolitan Washington is likely to cost more than $14 million, the area will be part of a mega-region stretching from Baltimore to Richmond, and energy use will help determine the region’s prosperity, panelists at a forum on the future of the National Capital Region said today.
 
The region’s top elected officials and business leaders participated in the panel discussion with experts on regional growth and development sponsored by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG).  COG was founded fifty years ago by regional leaders who believed that Washington, D.C. and its suburbs should work together to their mutual benefit.

 If current trends continue for the next five decades, a shortage of affordable housing in the region will worsen the impact of traffic congestion, said Stephen Fuller, director of the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University’s School of Public Policy. The average price of a home, at $14 million, would be almost 12 times the projected average household income in 2057, he predicted. Currently, homes cost 3.5 times the average regional household income. The area also could see a shortage of workers, especially those needed for its advanced, technology-based economy.

Robert Lang, director of the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech, said the growth of the region into one that links Baltimore, Washington, D.C. and Richmond will drive decisions on the need to invest in transportation and economic development.

With the expected growth of mega-regions here and across the country, panelist, Harriet Tregoning, director of the Office of Planning for the District of Columbia, said energy-related issues will create big winners and losers for those regions.  She said metropolitan Washington will need to protect its natural resource systems and capture growth in walkable urban centers.

“To continue prospering, the region must hold onto its core principle of intergovernmental cooperation,” said panelist, Michael Rogers, executive vice president, Corporate Services for MedStar Health Corporation.

Following the forum, Leonard Downie, Jr., executive editor of The Washington Post, delivered the luncheon keynote address. 

The forum, “Charting the Future of the National Capital Region,” which examined the region’s past and asked leaders to consider how the area is likely to develop in the future, was part of the celebration of COG’s 50th anniversary.

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