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Friday, July 7, 2017

Community meeting will address affordable housing

Rosedale Manor, an affordable housing community in Bailey's Crossroads doesn't have any vacancies. 
There’s widespread agreement that the lack of affordable housing is a huge problem in Northern Virginia; yet there aren’t many viable solutions.

The public is invited to present their views on this issue at a community meeting, titled “Why Housing Matters,” at the Mason Government Center, 6507 Columbia Pike, Annandale, on July 13, 7-9 p.m. There will be refreshments.

Community members are also encouraged to take an online survey on housing affordability.

Feedback from the community will help shape a strategic plan being developed by the Fairfax County Office of Housing. County officials want to know whether the public thinks housing affordability is an important issue and what the county can do to invest in affordable housing.

Over the last decade, Fairfax County has experienced unprecedented increases in the cost of for-sale housing and a significant decrease in the availability of affordable rental housing, the Office of Housing states.

The average apartment in Fairfax County cost $1,764 a month in 2015, which means a household needs an annual income of at least $70,560 to afford the typical rent.

About 45 percent of all jobs in the county pay less than $50,000 per year, however. Average salaries for many jobs in the private sector pay well below that. The average salary for a security guard is $31,850, for example, while the average salary in retail sales is just $29,552.

Many public sector employees are also priced out of the Fairfax County housing market. The starting salary for a teacher is $47,046, while the starting salary for a police officer is $50,264.

The goal of the strategic plan on affordable housing is to:
  • quantify the housing needed to sensibly accommodate future growth and support the county’s economic sustainability 
  • develop specific, measurable, and actionable strategies for meeting countywide housing goals
  • and identify the programs, policies, and funding sources that will be required to address housing needs in five, 10, and 15 years.
According to the Office of Housing, research consistently shows that having access to stable and affordable housing in safe neighborhoods is associated with more consistent school attendance, better academic performance, better physical and mental health, less stress for parents, and increased likelihood of upward economic mobility.

27 comments:

  1. It's past time for the rest of the County to step up and have affordable housing. Mason District has more than its share. Low income families need to live closer to where they work to reduce their commute costs and increase their time with their families. Among other benefits it would also reduce traffic congestion.

    Get smart Fairfax. Spread affordable housing throughout the county.

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  2. How about allowing homeowners to add a full kitchen and bathroom to their basement or in-law suite? Or allow the building of a small accessory dwelling on the property? Fairfax County's zoning laws prohibit modifications to one's own property that could add a great deal of affordable housing options at no cost to the county!

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    1. Are you joking? Then my neighbors, who already have 10 - 15 people living in their home, will just pack in even more. And there are countless homes like this across Mason District.

      NO MORE to all of the "affordable housing" that is in Mason District already and unaccounted for in these silly reports done by the county, because they do not account for illegal boarding homes.

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    2. In theory what you say is great. The problem is that there are so many in the county cramming 10-20 people in home. And there is ABSOLUTELY ZERO recourse for neighbors. Tons of vehicles on the street, people coming and going. You report it to the County. And nothing is done. So you get stuck with these multi-family homes or individuals running flop houses. And it goes on and on. Some of these homes are absolutely famous. There are several in Parklawn and the Bailey's area. The county does zero and allows it to continue.

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  3. Easy solution... get a roommate.

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  4. 1:21 pm- "at no cost to the county"... you've got to be joking. We pretty much had what you described during the mini-depression of 2007-2010 (ish). Boarding houses were everywhere. 3-4+ families living in single family homes. What do you think the impact was on the schools, roads, sewers, etc? Everything has a cost.

    Regarding the online survey - I found it to be very "preachy" and not so much geared towards gathering feedback but more to convincing the survey taker why affordable housing is important. That's not how a survey should be conducted, so if this is the same group conducting this meeting, I unfortunately now have reservations about how this is going to be done because of that survey, which is sad because affordable housing is such an important topic and the county needs to get its strategy right.

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    1. Jeffrey, like you I found the survey was certainly tilted in one direction or if you disagreed with what appears to be a predetermined outcome, your responses came across as callous, bigoted, sexist, elitist, etc. - especially when they ask about your income level etc. The survey also treats the inventory of affordable housing as the root cause rather than a symptom of much broader issues.

      For example, in the survey there is the scenario of the teacher who can't afford to live on her own. What the survey doesn't do is give more options for additional solutions to her predicament. So, you're forced to say whether you agree - or not - that the teacher should be able to afford her own home. What you aren't able to do is to say that the continued failures by the Fairfax County BoS has made it so that the Fairfax County School Board must fund additional classrooms and other programs for the influx of children of parents who are not paying their county taxes. If the school board wasn't forced to do that, perhaps it could give teachers adequate salaries or raises so the teachers could afford a home on their own without the county's extra help. One would have to question if that's not the whole intent, to keep creating a larger county government over which the BoS can exercise their power (which is certainly distinct from leadership).

      The BoS' unwillingness to enforce current ordinances and their failure to fund, appropriately resource, integrate, and fully enable the police, code compliance, and tax collectors to act in a single cohesive fashion has created this mess. Now, they want to put "affordable housing" on the backs of the legitimate taxpayers - in addition to having to do the County's job of code compliance. You can certainly get an idea of where the BoS is headed by the content of the questions in the survey regarding county ownership and management of affordable housing.

      The other scenario was about the elderly lady who was afraid that she would no longer be able to live in her home. Again, the survey gives the impression that the only real solution is for the "benevolent" county BoS to step in and give the lady a subsidy so she could afford her home. Perhaps another solution would be for the BoS to redo the tax code through which homeowners would only have to pay taxes on the purchase price of their homes rather than continued annual increases based on ever increasing assessed values. The BoS would never accept that because it would hurt their abilities to continue to generate increasing revenue.

      As Anonymous of 10:03 am of 7/10/17 says, the current Fairfax County leadership is stuck in last century. They like to portray themselves as "progressives" but their approach to many of these issues is so predictable, trite, and less than innovative.

      It's so easy to put this on the backs of the taxpayers instead of working hard to come up with more acceptable, sustainable, suitable, and feasible solutions that aren't "county owned." If the current BoS is allowed to continue to tax and spend (or worse require businesses to subsidize their employees' housing as asked in the survey), the middle class and business exodus out of DC in the 70s and 80s will pale in comparison to what will happen in Fairfax. It's sad that our leadership can't learn from those mistakes.

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    2. Jeffrey, thanks for your response. I was the one that posted at 1:21 PM. I agree that boarding houses are a huge problem in Fairfax County. They've negatively impacted me and my neighborhood. Sadly, these will exist regardless of whether Fairfax residents are allowed to build an additional kitchen or in-law suite in or on their property or not. Many cities (e.g., DC, Boston, Portland) allow this.

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    3. Not only is County stuck in the last century so is the leadership, time for them to go. They don't understand the dynamics of urbanism and how to manage, sustain and advance economic growth. My suggestion is to lock up the County Chair, Supervisors and Attorneys in an apartment in Culmore or one of those boarding houses mentioned. Let them live the nightmare that they have caused Mason neighborhoods to endure.

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  5. Tell them to go somewhere else!

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  6. The county needs to look at this from the rental side, of that $1764 how much of it goes to paying county taxes, insurance, water/sewer, facilities, grounds upkeep, and in house supers.
    I had a little 1500 sq ft house and taxes were $5k/yr in Annandale. The taxes had crept up to 50% of my original mortgage. I've since moved west but still work in the area.

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  7. Share the love in McLean, Burke, Tysons, Great Falls, invite your Domestic Help to live within walking distance of your home...no need for transit access and eco friendly, too.

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  8. We don't need this conversation. Fairfax County can maintain its section 8 and other subsidized units, and there are more than enough affordable market-rate single family rentals, apartments, and condos in Mason District. The provision that developers must include a percentage of affordable units in newly built multi-family housing is a good one as well.

    Hold this series of meetings elsewhere. The mere act of holding this meeting here signals to me that the county is looking to Mason District to dump even more affordable housing here.

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  9. Provide direct housing grants to working families, seniors and disabled individuals

    This question makes one suspicious, is there a reason to not separate these three groups or to have disabled individuals and seniors separated from working families. What is even meant by "working families"

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  10. I really wish the county would consider whether their lack of enforcement has contributed to the problem. If the county continues to allow multiple families to occupy apartments, the apartment complexes will have no reason to lower rents. They will continue to know that they can get away with higher rents, since the county is looking the other way and allowing multiple families to pull together their money to pay.

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  11. Sounds like another attempt to resurrect the Residential Studio Unit (RSU) proposal from the 2013-2014 time frame. Maybe Ms Bulova and Ms Gross had hoped most had forgotten about that terrible idea. So, Anonymous of the 1:21 pm comment on 7/7/21 your idea isn't new. It's that a good number of residents saw it as the terribly flawed idea it was. Thank goodness it never saw the light of day then and hopefully it won't come up during this "meeting."

    As with a lot of things in Fairfax County, Mason District in particular, this would lead to another group of ordinances that the County could not, or more like will not, enforce - like current zoning, parking, and tax laws and ordinances already on the books on which the county's lack of action and will to enforce is sadly more than apparent. Do we really need to start counting cars in Mason District with Maryland plates that have continually escaped any tax enforcement despite residents' pleas as a sign of our government's inability to take action? And, if you do complain, you get jerked around between the Department of Code Compliance, the police, and others until you just quit complaining. It's ridiculous.

    The failure in its ability to enforce laws is one of the first signs of a failing government. In the case of Fairfax County, the current BoS Chair and Mason District Supervisor continue to lead the way - and it appears somewhat consciously I might add - of placing the enforcement of codes etc on the backs of their constituents rather than the County - if they get enforced at all. To me, it's just a sign that the current government in Fairfax is failing.

    Further, it is their inability to recognize their failed policies (if they formulate a policy at all) across a broad front (from code enforcement, to smart growth and redevelopment, to building what amounts to a Sanctuary county) that has created this situation in the first place. Whenever quite a few of her more forward-thinking constituents have tried to ask for more effective and more broad-based measures to prevent issues like this, they have been basically told that Ms Gross knows best. What's worse, a lot of residents have simply given up since it appears at times she just does whatever she, rather than her constituents, wants. How many times does she have to be proven wrong?

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    1. City-style governments (Arlington, Alexandria, DC, etc) surrounding us seem to have fewer issues enforcing zoning, parking, and other laws. In my experience, they don't rely on a complaint-based system of responding to issues - they are extremely proactive.

      Meanwhile, here is what our illustrious parking enforcement officers were up to as of a couple of years ago:

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/fairfax-car-repair-shops-say-parking-enforcement-targets-their-customers/2015/10/11/e960753a-63cf-11e5-9757-e49273f05f65_story.html?utm_term=.95911015af22

      Fairfax County is stuck in the last century, and they claim that due to state laws, there is nothing they can do about it.

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  12. We have a neighbor that must have 10 or so people living in a house. I imagine they rent or the owner rents out every bit of space. There are a lot of cars in the driveway, on the street, and spill on to the neighboring street. The cars all are Maryland plates. The house is reported - nothing happens. Can the cars be reported? Arlington does a great job of ticketing and enforcement. I have been disappointed in Fairfax since moving here.

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    1. Report every single one of them. Anonymously.

      http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dta/taxevaders/AddRecord.aspx

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  13. is tearing down Culmore part of this plan? if so, i'm down!

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  14. How about building some affordable housing in McLean? A lot of schools in Mason District have 50%+ free lunch students. That would say that we have more than enough affordable housing. Spread the affordable housing around.

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  15. There's more than enough affordable housing here! And I'm an immigrant that came here 30 years ago. How is it I can afford a house and the new people who just came here cannot!!!!

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    1. Do you know NOTHING about economics??

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  16. Get rid of Culmore and then come to us with your hands out. Mason is maxed out w Section 8 housing, no more disaster social engineering for Mason. Build housing for the middle class and upward mobile professionals not for more immigrants looking for handouts! We have had enough JUST SAY NO.

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  17. With the Amazon data center coming and inova research lab replacing former Exxon HQ, its going to push supply and demand up. My recommendation is educate the refugees and illegals that you are probably better off in Canada and those old folks baby boomer go retire in Oregon.

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    1. Amazon and INOVA are not moving into Mason. Businesses continue to shutter its doors while boarding houses are exponentially driving home values down in it older neighborhoods.

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  18. Get rid of Culmore!

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