I believe that housing policy is among the most important things that the Arlington County Board does. Where we live, and whether we -- as young professionals, working families, new Americans, or downsizing retirees -- can afford to come to, stay, and grow in our neighborhoods has a profound influence on our local economy, as well as integration and diversity.
I’m proud of our record on housing. During my time on the County Board:
- We added over a thousand new Committed Affordable homes for our lower-income neighbors, bringing Arlington’s inventory to an all time high of over eight thousand such homes.
- We have stepped up to crisis, working to prevent affordable garden apartments from being torn down and replaced with luxury units, both by funding non-profits in buying and preserving these apartmentsandby taking steps to slow this rapid by-right redevelopment.
- We’ve started to tackle the supply issues that underlie our lack of modestly-sized ownership housing, reforming our Zoning Ordinance to allow more “accessory dwellings,” like English basements, and to preserve the County’s stock of duplexes into the next generation.
But just like the Red Queen’s country in Alice in Wonderland, here in Arlington, “it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that.” We’ve made great strides, but we’re still a long way from our goal, adopted in the 2015 Affordable Housing Master Plan, that 17.7% of our rental housing stock will be affordable by the year 2040: Currently, only 8.8% of rental units are affordable to neighbors making 60% or less of the area median income. And it’s hard for middle-class residents of all ages and backgrounds to buy into broad geographic swathes of the County: Since 2005, the inventory of 3-bedroom (and smaller) homes is decreasing in Arlington, replaced with larger and more expensive homes throughout our single-family neighborhoods.
How can we address this challenge? I am committed to:
- Following through on, and pursue new funding sources - including new state dollars, greater philanthropic and private investment, and maintaining and, where possible, growing, local commitments to the Affordable Housing Investment Fund - to support the creation of Committed Affordable Units to prevent displacement of low-income residents as rents increase.
- Pursuing new zoning reforms to increase the supply of middle-class ownership housing - home types like duplexes, fourplexes and small cottages - for seniors, young people and changing families, in neighborhoods throughout the County.
- Amping up regional leadership and collaboration to advocate for and reduce barriers to significantly increasing the supply of housing throughout Northern Virginia and Metro DC, through leadership in arenas like the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and the Virginia Municipal League.