VA Affordable Housing Master Plan Approved

The plan aims to prepare Arlington for the next generation of sustainable, affordable housing.

Arlington, Va.— The Arlington County Board has adopted the county’s first Affordable Housing Master Plan, a culmination of a three-year community effort that will prepare Arlington for the next generation of sustainable, affordable housing.

The County Board vote was 5-0 to adopt the Master Plan.

“This affordable housing plan continues our long tradition of providing housing so that individuals of all ages, races and incomes can come together to make a great community we can all call home,” said Mary Hynes, Arlington County’s board chair. “Hundreds of community members have contributed deeply to creating this updated policy blueprint. Their ideas, incorporated in the Affordable Housing Master Plan and implemented over time, will guide future County Board decisions and investments that sustain our diversity, our great neighborhoods, our outstanding schools and our local economy.”

The three-year process involved a great deal of community input and discussion. The County Board and staff held countless meetings and received more than 1,000 letters and emails on the issue. More than 50 people from the community spoke in favor of the plan, including teenagers, individuals with disabilities, teachers, business people, senior citizens, families and pastors.

The plan is organized around three goals that address the County’s growing affordability challenges: to increase supply, ensure access and to contribute to environmental, economic and community sustainability. Policies within the latter goal ensure safe and decent housing, coordinate land use and transportation, and incorporate environmental best practices.

As for supply, the Board noted that Arlington’s success at attracting residents, visitors, investors and businesses has brought many benefits to the community but it has become increasingly difficult for the County to retain a sufficient supply of housing affordable to households with low- and moderate-incomes.

Between 2000 and 2013, the number of units affordable to low-income individuals and families in Arlington decreased from approximately 23,000 to 10,000. The County’s current inventory of 7,000 Committed Affordable Units (CAFs)—units that are contractually obligated to remain affordable for decades—has only partially alleviated the loss of market-rate affordable units.

According to growth projections, by 2040, 17.7 percent of Arlington’s households are projected to be low-income renters—at or below 60 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI). The plan’s rental supply goal targets 22,800 affordable units by 2040—a return to the number of affordable units that were available in 2000.

The plan’s ownership supply goal is to make 28.4 percent of the County’s added ownership housing stock affordable for households at or below 120 percent AMI. In terms of units, the plan’s goal is to supply 2,700 affordable ownership units by 2040.