Affordable Housing

Ensuring Affordable Housing for all Arlingtonians

Matt is dedicated to ensuring that Arlington remains a diverse and thriving community. His commitment to affordable housing led him to serve on the Housing Commission, where he is Vice Chair, the Community Housing Finance Corp Board, the Citizens’ Advisory Commission on Housing, the Tenant-Landlord Commission, the Roundtable to End Homelessness, and the Affordable Housing Study Working Group (2014-2016).

The affordable housing challenges Arlington faces are, in part, a byproduct of it being such a great place to live. However, it is vital that the people who constitute the fabric of our community are not left behind as Arlington grows. Teachers, police officers, nurses, restaurant workers, construction workers, and firemen must be able to find affordable housing in Arlington. Middle-class families, millennials, and seniors seeking to age-in-place must be able to afford rent. And, it is essential that our neighbors in need have access to affordable and decent housing. Since 2000, affordable housing in Arlington has declined by two thirds, and many middle-class Arlingtonians have been priced out of their homes and neighborhoods due to increasing costs.

Despite this, the County Board’s commitment to ensuring affordable housing remains strong, and progress has been made. In 2015, the County Board adopted the Affordable Housing Master Plan to address Arlington’s housing challenges. Housing affordability remains essential to achieving the Arlington County Vision. Ensuring a diverse community of people from all backgrounds and income levels benefits Arlington by helping to attract young families, maintain neighborhood character, and reinforce efficient land use. Additionally, housing affordability enhances Arlington’s market competitiveness by providing employers with a pool of efficient workers and a stable costumer base, and by allowing consumers to spend less of their income on housing. In 2016, Arlington achieved an important step in the fight against poverty by reaching functional zero Veteran’s homelessness.

Tools to Achieve Affordable Housing

The General Land Use Plan, updated in February 2020, is an element of Arlington County’s Comprehensive Plan that outlines the County Board’s housing policy. Since the early 2000s, the County Board has established 7 Special Affordable Housing Protection Districts (SAHPDs) throughout the Rosslyn-Ballston Metro Corridor. SAHPDs promote the retention of affordable housing in areas undergoing redevelopment by ensuring that existing low- and moderate-income apartment units remain or are replaced where development density is higher than zoning permits.

Other promising tools include:

  • Funding the Affordable Housing Investment Fund, a revolving loan fund that generates more than $2 in additional funding for each dollar the Board invests
  • Finding market-driven approaches to increase the availability of market affordable units (MARKs) in Arlington
  • Ensuring that Housing Conservation Districts, policies that prevent loss of MARKs by offering financial and zoning incentives to property owners who guarantee to provide affordable units to residents earning up to 80% of Area Median Income (AMI), are implemented fairly
  • Increasing zoning flexibility to facilitate Arlingtonians sharing homes with renters, caretakers, or adult family members
  • Considering community land trusts to ensure retention of and addition to affordable housing
  • Promoting the construction of affordable duplex developments and exploring conversion of office space into affordable units