Helping Our Neighbors in Need
For most Arlingtonians, our economy works well. Still, we face challenges that can be addressed as a compassionate community that is committed to service. We can do more to address hunger, the needs of our seniors, our disabled and helping the 8.8 percent of our Arlington neighbors who live below the poverty line. We must commit to expanding opportunity for everyone in Arlington.
Commit to Ending Child Hunger in Arlington
The Arlington Food Assistance Center serves 2,200 families per week. 35 percent of those individuals receiving meals are children. We must acknowledge that preventing child hunger is worth our investment. Our County Board has prioritized fighting hunger, but it is time to champion the elimination of child hunger, just as we successfully ended veteran homelessness in 2016. Arlington can accomplish this goal by updating the Arlington community hunger analysis done in 2012 and 2013 to identify problem areas. We must relentlessly pursue solutions to reduce child hunger and, eventually, food insecurity.
Help our Seniors to Age in Place and Live Affordably
Our seniors are among the fastest growing demographic in Arlington, along with millennials. We must commit to helping seniors age in place through initiatives such as accessory dwellings. I supported the Accessory Dwelling ordinance that came before the County Board in 2017 as a smart, balanced way to move forward on aging in place. Based on the text of the ordinance, which came before the Housing Commission, approval of accessory dwellings will and should move forward with reasonable restrictions. Arlington has to be an accessible place for seniors to live, so we must be mindful of how increases in housing costs impact this community. We also must expand services to help homes become accessible through home modifications and transportation so that seniors do not face isolation.
Expand Opportunity for Our Neighbors Below the Poverty Line
Arlington is the 5th wealthiest county in America with a median household income of $110,000. However, Arlington is also an expensive place to live with an equally high poverty line. A family of four is living in poverty with a household income below $46,000 per year. By this metric, 8.8-percent of Arlingtonians, at least 15,000 individuals, struggle with poverty.
We cannot fix poverty alone—the federal government and the Commonwealth of Virginia have roles to play, as well as the extraordinary network of nonprofits in Arlington and a spirit of service that has been and continues to be so strong in this community. Each of these parts are part of the broader solution. However, the County Board must continue to play a role and build on years of progress. I believe that we must step up and consider poverty reduction as a metric key to our community’s success. By doing so, we will strengthen our economy for everyone and build community that is compassionate for all.
I am committed to expanding opportunity for everyone and my career reflects this commitment. I began my career teaching in a low-income community in Houston where civil rights leader, Congresswoman Barbara Jordan grew up. I have worked on hunger issues with Feeding America and issues impacting seniors with Rebuilding Together. I will prioritize economic opportunity using a data driven approach that consistently revisits Arlington’s success on hunger and poverty reductions, just as we keep track of commercial vacancy rates. I am incredibly passionate about this issue and look forward to speaking with you about how we can end hunger and poverty in Arlington.