Statement on the Affordable Housing Master Plan
Friday, September 18, 2015
This Saturday, the Arlington County Board will vote on an Affordable Housing Master Plan. After close study, and extensive conversation with many neighbors, I join the Civic Federation, the Chamber of Commerce, The Commission on Aging, the Economic Development Commission, Mi Voz Cuenta, Doorways for Women and Families and A-SPAN in asking the Board to vote yes.
The rapidly-rising costs of rental and ownership housing mean that the status quo in Arlington is increasingly hostile to middle- and working-class Arlingtonians. Families, seniors and young professionals are all squeezed by these costs: Nearly one in four Arlingtonians surveyed last year said they are "very likely" to be forced out of the community by housing costs in the next five years. Affordability is also a top concern for Arlington's economic health: Our capacity to attract business and employers also depends on the continued economic and generational diversity of our residents.
Arlington must act. For our long-term sustainability, for our seniors, for our firefighters and teachers, and for our young families, I believe this plan represents a step forward for the County.
The Affordable Housing Master Plan is not perfect. As the Arlington Parks Coalition has emphasized, for example, the language of the Plan ought to be amended to signal greater commitment to protection of natural resource areas from development (affordable or otherwise) before the County Board approves it.
But the Master Plan is also better for the involvement of our neighbors in recent months. The plan now emphasizes geographic distribution, including a recently-added map of targets throughout the County. Along with the accompanying land use tools and ideas in the Implementation Framework, this emphasis means that we are better positioned to achieve diversity -- a value central to so many Arlingtonians -- throughout the County and in our schools.
And under this plan, our programs will serve current Arlingtonians first. The language of the Master Plan echoes a value I hear from many of our neighbors: “As a local government, the County has a responsibility first to provide for the needs of its existing residents.”
Our community conversation about affordability will not end with tomorrow’s vote, and I look forward to continuing to learn from and partner with our neighbors in all corners of the County as we seek to balance our values of inclusion, integration and good stewardship of resources.