Helping those at risk of eviction was also one of our highest priorities in 2020. Each of us heard from many Arlingtonians worried about their rent last year. Our Department of Human Services, community, and safety net nonprofits have all worked relentlessly to help thousands of Arlingtonians make it through 2020 without losing their homes. Over the next 6 months helping those most in need of shelter must continue to be at the heart of how we measure ourselves as a County and as a community.
The Missing Middle
Along with our economy and our schools, missing middle housing types must be part of our recovery. I want to be clear about what I mean when I say “missing middle housing”. Missing Middle is a type of housing—duplexes, townhomes, and low-rise/garden style apartments—that can help make the costs of homeownership in Arlington more affordable for the many people who live here and want to stay, but currently cannot afford a home.
Missing middle housing types are necessary because the status quo on housing is not sustainable. Arlington is a very desirable place to live—the cost of buying a home here has continued to increase over the last 10-15 years relative to wages because demand has been greater than supply. That means that without changes in our housing supply the 60% of Arlington residents who currently rent cannot realistically save up to buy a place. We risk becoming as unaffordable as San Francisco if we do not plan for replacement of existing moderately priced housing and grow in a thoughtful, managed way.
Missing middle housing is inextricably linked to the inclusive, equitable recovery we need. The median income for white households in Arlington is $134K per year, more than double that of Black households, which is $58K. Think about that. More than double. That’s not right and it’s not happenstance: I believe Arlington’s decision to prohibit row houses for more than 25 years contributed to that inequity. We must adopt policies and plan for a different, more equitable future.