- County Board, Planning Commission to hold September hearings
- Culmination of three-year community planning process
- Key objectives: increasing supply, accessibility, sustainability
- Important location strategies: preservation, proximity to good transportation, study of new building forms
The Arlington County Board today set September public hearings for the proposed Affordable Housing Master Plan and Implementation Framework. The hearings, before the Planning Commission and the County Board, will be the culmination of a three-year community planning effort.
“Ensuring that Arlington has housing affordable to folks at all incomes in all stages of life is one of the most important challenges facing our community. Whether we are seeking to attract businesses, helping Arlingtonians age in place, or ensuring that residents who rent have the opportunity to grow roots, the preservation and creation of affordable housing is a necessary component of our long-term sustainability and vibrancy,” said Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes. “The Master Plan, which the Board will ultimately adopt, and the Implementation Framework, a guide to actions the Board could take to achieve the Plan’s objectives, represent years of hard, thoughtful work by residents and County staff.”
County faces growing affordability challenges
“Based on an analysis of current and future housing needs, the County will face growing housing affordability challenges in the years to come, particularly among lower-income households,” the study finds. “There is insufficient affordable housing to meet the demand of renters – particularly families – with incomes below 60 percent of area median income. In addition, many middle-income households have difficulty purchasing a home in Arlington.”
The study finds that the County’s current rental stock sufficiently serves both families, and single-person households, who have incomes above 80 percent of AMI.
The County has seen a dramatic decrease in its affordable housing stock even as it has created more committed affordable units than most surrounding jurisdictions, according to the findings in the Master Plan. In 2000, 26 percent of the County’s housing stock was affordable to households earning below 60 percent of AMI. Between 2000 and 2013, average home sale prices increased by 140.3% while the average rent increased by 90.9%. Over the same period, the County lost 13,500 affordable housing units, primarily to rent increases. Today, just nine percent of Arlington’s housing stock is affordable to low-income renters, defined as household earning less than 60 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI), or $64,480.
The Board voted 4 to 1 to approve advertising public hearings on the Master Plan and the Implementation Framework before the Planning Commission on September 8 and before the County Board on September 19. To read the staff report on this item, visit the County Website. Scroll down to Item #43 on the Agenda for the June 13, 2015 Regular County Board Meeting.
Policy and tools
The Affordable Housing Master Plan includes principles, goals, objectives and policies that clearly define the County’s affordable housing policy, enabling the County to respond to current and future housing needs of residents of all levels of income. If adopted by the Board, the Master Plan will be an element of the County’s Comprehensive Plan.
The Implementation Framework identifies the existing and potential tools the County can use to achieve the Master Plan’s goals. Those tools include financial assistance to support the construction, acquisition and rehabilitation of affordable housing, regulations and incentives that leverage private development activities to increase the supply of affordable housing, and programs designed to help low-income and at-risk populations find and maintain safe and affordable housing.
If the Board accepts the framework following the September public hearing, staff will do further work to develop the tools, and there will be a public process before any tools are adopted by the Board.
Setting an objective of 17.7% of housing stock being affordable by 2040
By 2040 17.7 percent of Arlington’s households are projected to be low-income renters– at or below 60 percent of AMI. The plan sets an objective of 17.7 percent of the County’s housing stock, or 22,800 units, being affordable to those households by 2040. If growth forecasts are realized this would mean that 15,800 more units would need to be affordable; either due to lower market rents or to County investments designed to create committed affordable units that are contractually obligated to remain affordable for decades. Also by 2040, according to the Master Plan, 2,700 ownership units affordable to households between 80 percent and 120 percent AMI ($128,400) will need to be created to fulfill the forecasted need.
Recommendations in the plan were based on research, a thorough needs analysis, in-depth forecasting, surveys, working group meetings and community workshops. The draft plan proposes three goals that focus on housing supply, access and sustainability. The Implementation Framework proposes modifications to existing tools and potential new tools in the areas of financing, land use and services.
Effort began in 2012
The County Board initiated the Affordable Housing Study in 2012 to evaluate existing policies; assess current programs and resources; and identify needs and gaps in provisions for affordable housing.
The County Manager appointed an 18-member Affordable Housing Study Working Group to shape the community’s affordable housing vision. Together with County staff, the group drafted the Affordable Housing Master Plan, to be included as an element of the County’s Comprehensive Plan.
View the Draft Implementation Framework.
To learn more, visit the County website.