AHS has submitted the following comments to the Arlington County Manager in response to a request for input on the FY2018 County Budget.
Affordable housing is an essential element of any community and should continue to be a high priority in Arlington’s budget. Seniors, the disabled, lower wage workers that serve our community, and increasingly even middle-income households, are increasingly at risk of being forced out of Arlington due to rising rents, home values and redevelopment activity that threatens the diversity of our housing stock and our community. Continued County investments in affordable housing development, rental assistance, and related services and programs are needed simply to keep these pressures from further reducing our existing supply of affordable and moderate-priced housing in the County.
The County adopted an Affordable Housing Master Plan in 2015 that lays out three important goals. In creating the FY 2018 budget, AHS encourages the County Manager to include funding for the full range of areas where ongoing and increased investment in affordable housing is needed to meet these goals. Highlights of these areas are provided below.
Goal 1: Arlington County shall have an adequate supply of housing available to meet community needs. This requires investment of County resources in the production and preservation of affordable rental housing through the Affordable Housing Investment Fund. In addition to financial investments, County planning staff should also prioritize updates to County policies and plans that can help encourage the production of more moderately priced ownership housing in the market (e.g. “The Missing Middle”).
Goal 2: Arlington County shall ensure that all segments of the community have access to housing. This requires continued investments in rental assistance, permanent supportive housing, accessibility improvements for the disabled, and other key social safety net supports and services for the most vulnerable residents of Arlington.
Goal 3: Arlington County shall ensure that its housing efforts contribute to a sustainable community. This requires that the County make smart investments in its code compliance practices to improve the safety of homes and apartments in our community. It will also require County investments in education, awareness and other assistance that improves the ability of landlords and owners to provide safe, secure, efficient and sustainable housing.
If reductions are needed, we encourage the Manager to find reductions in places that do not exacerbate the already great pressures on Arlington’s most vulnerable residents.