Helping those at risk of eviction was also one of our highest priorities in 2020 and 2021. I made
it a priority to help make sure everyone could stay in their homes during the pandemic and this
remains a key priority for me. I heard from many Arlingtonians worried about their rent in 2021
when I served as Chair. Our Department of Human Services, community, and safety net
nonprofits have all worked relentlessly to help thousands of Arlingtonians make it through
2020, 2021, and 2022 without losing their homes. As we move toward living with COVID in our
community, 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.
Affordable housing is the most pressing issue we face as a community as we evolve
economically. Affordable housing is distinct from what I call housing affordability. Here’s what
that means: “affordable housing” is the housing we provide for those earning under 60% to
80% of area median income. Roughly, depending on the size of one’s household, that is in the
range of $75-$85k per year or less for a household of 3 people. Larger and smaller households
would have more and less income than that range, but housing that is affordable for those
earning about that amount and less is what I consider “affordable housing.”
My top priority for the next four years is what I define as “affordable housing” above. Arlington
continues to lose what we call “market rate affordable” units to renovation and
redevelopment. We have been working hard to replace these apartments that are affordable
on the private market with what we call “committed affordable units.” Such units are ones that
the County and affordable housing nonprofits partner on or units dedicated as affordable on-
site units as part of the requirements of Arlington County’s ordinances. Keeping up with the
loss of market rates units is very difficult and expensive. We have our Affordable Housing
Investment Fund and our Housing Grants programs, both of which I support investing more in.
For more on those programs, go here
Housing-Investment-Fund and here
If we don’t invest in affordable housing, we risk displacing current residents that teach and care
for our children, care for older adults in our community, cook and serve food for our
community, build the buildings we live and work in, and clean our schools and workspaces.
Affordable housing is key for our hearts—it is the right thing to do. It is critical for our economic
growth as we need an economy that enables us to be resilient should any sector falter.
The Barcroft Apartments
Overall, on housing, the most important thing I did over the past four years and the most
important step for those most in need and our residents of color was the decision to preserve
over 1300 apartments at the Barcroft Apartments. The County put $150 million into a loan
agreement that will keep units affordable for those earning 60% of Area Median Income and
below. We did so with the plan of rebuilding units and allowing for some mixed use
development so that we will also have greater investment in these apartments.
The Homeless and Affordable Housing for Those Most in Need and Housing Staff
Part of affordable housing is investing in homeless prevention in Arlington, we also must
commit to 10% of our affordable housing units being affordable to those earning 30% and
below of the median income. This commitment is not easy and it is important that such units be
dispersed across our community and not concentrated in any one affordable housing
development. This priority is one I support as critical to our efforts to be a just community
where all are valued, even and especially those most in need.
I also will push for additional staff for our Housing Division. I also believe we need to push for a
Community Land Trust which would help make shared equity homeownership possible for
households where the sole income earner may be a teacher, firefighter, or police officer. Such
an entity will take additional staff time and resources.
I support tiered changes to our zoning policies to increase the supply of housing that is available
for homeownership for young families and seniors who wish to downsize. Over the last 15-20
years the price of homes with three bedrooms or more has skyrocketed. If we do nothing, the
status quo will not work for our children or grandchildren—they will not be able to afford to
live in Arlington.
We cannot afford to subsidize homeownership through our budget. Our corridors also are not
the solution: they do not produce enough three bedrooms. Instead, we should make ownership
more possible by allowing for duplexes on our smallest lots and triplexes on larger lots. I do not
support eightplexes, since I believe the cost is not worth the benefit. I have concerns about
sixplexes, but think that use standards might be the way forward on them.
Definitions and Details on Missing Middle
Missing middle is a phrase that is ambiguous. What I mean when I say “missing middle housing”
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. It also could be interpreted as
referring to income. As in “missing middle” income.
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, at least in part, linked to the inclusive future we should aspire
to. 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. That does not mean it is anyone in particular’s fault. None
of us had control over that decision more than 50 years ago. However, I do think we have a
responsibility to try to improve our policies going forward. I believe we should adopt policies
and plan for a more equitable future.