We are writing on behalf of the Alliance for Housing Solutionsboard of directors to support the County’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund loan to the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing to assist with the purchase of 68 at-risk affordable apartments in the Westover neighborhood.
The Westover neighborhood is currently a vibrant, mixed-income community due to the existence of 700+ units of affordable garden-style apartments originally built in the area in the 1940s-1950s. This mixed-income community is at risk due to the recent demolitions of privately-owned market-affordable apartments to be replaced by luxury townhomes.
In the past two years, 62 apartments were demolished and several more buildings have been identified for future demolition.The affordable apartments inthe Westover neighborhood are one component of the County’s Affordable Housing Master Plan goal to create and preserve 22,800 affordable dwelling units in the County by 2040. In that plan, Westover accounted for 700 of these 22,800 units, down from the 753 that existed as of 2015. This area is one of the few small pockets of affordability remaining in North Arlington, and therefore should be a high priority for the County’s housing preservation efforts.
Without immediate action, hundreds of additional units in Westover are likely to be lost permanently and replaced with high-end by-right townhome development. AHS strongly supports APAH’s purchase of 68 at-risk units in 8 buildings in the Westover area. This would add significantlyto the over 220 units already owned by APAH and AHC in the neighborhood.
Ideally, we would see even more affordable units purchased and preserved by nonprofit owners in the area. With the amount of AHIF resources currently available, however, we believe that the plan for APAH to purchase these properties is the right step to take at this point in time.
We also urge the County to move forward expeditiously on its other ongoing efforts to develop plans and strategies to preserve market-affordable apartments throughout the County through the use of additional tools beyond the use of AHIF loans.
Arlington should use its creativity and commitment to pull together a set of tools–such as regulatory changes, zoning reform, and tax incentives–that can be used immediately to preserve more market-affordable apartments everywhere in the County.