Arlington County Struggles To Meet Affordable Housing Goals

As the region’s population swells and demand for housing grows, Arlington County considers zoning reform to boost its affordable housing stock.

1 minute read

June 23, 2022, 6:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Officials in Arlington County, Virginia “are finding it increasingly difficult to maintain their affordable housing goals as many low- and middle-income workers are being forced to move further out, becoming innocent bystanders of the county’s — and the region’s — success.” According to an article by Ethan Goffman in Greater Greater Washington,

In recent years, low-income housing from the free market has all but disappeared. As Arlington’s 2015 Affordable Housing Master Plan (AHMP) explains, “From 2000 to 2013, Arlington County lost 13,500 affordable housing units, primarily to rent increases.” Meanwhile, “the median home sale price in Arlington increased by 140.3%, while the average rent increased by 90.9%.”

As Goffman writes, “Regionally, the situation can only be expected to get worse, as jobs pour into the region faster than housing can keep up.” To address the crisis, the county has committed “to reach 17.7% of housing affordable to 60% or below AMI by 2040,” but their budget falls short of the $37.4 to $49.5 million needed to build or acquire the 8,650 units needed to meet that goal.

The article points out that the region is quickly becoming unaffordable to middle-income residents and suggests zoning reform as one solution for increasing the supply of affordable housing. The county is undertaking a study to understand the potential impact of legalizing missing middle housing.

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