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Thursday, March 14, 2019

Panel urges greater investment in affordable housing

Fairmont Gardens in Annandale.
The shrinking amount of affordable housing in Fairfax County is driving middle and lower-income people out of the area. To address that challenge, the Board of Supervisors convened an Affordable Housing Resources Panel to determine the number of affordable housing units needed and determine how to reach that goal.

The panel’s recommendations, presented to the BoS Budget Committee March 12, call for a minimum of 5,000 new homes affordable to households earning up to 60 percent of the area median income over the next 15 years.

The panel also proposes the following:
  • Allocate the equivalent of a penny on the real estate tax rate in the next budget cycle (FY 2021) to be used for capital purposes to support the creation of new homes that are affordable. That would come to $24.2 million. 
  • The current half penny on the tax rate already dedicated to affordable housing in the county’s existing budget ($12.2 million) should be retained and should be used for preserving existing affordable units. 
  • Commit to no net loss of existing market-rate affordable units in Fairfax County.
  • Develop a package of innovative land use policies to further facilitate the development of affordable housing beyond the goal of 5,000 units.
  • Identify opportunities to co-locate affordable housing with bond-funded county capital facilities.
  • Consider a countywide proffer policy on commercial contributions that are used for affordable housing production.
  • Partner with houses of worship to identify opportunities for housing development on land owned by faith communities.
  • Establish at least three new positions within the Department of Housing and Community Development to coordinate and administer affordable housing initiatives, partnerships, and programs.
The report by the panel identifies three critical pressures leading to fewer “market affordable” rental homes: the redevelopment of older apartment complexes; the renovation and or repositioning of previously affordable properties, and, most significantly, incomes are not able to keep pace with increases in rent.

“In order to ensure a healthy economy, reduce traffic congestion, and maintain an excellent quality of life, it’s important for residents to be able to live near where they work in housing that is affordable,” says Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon Bulova.

The Affordable Housing Resources Panel’s recommendations will not be included in this year’s budget for FY 2020. The new board, to be convened next January, will have the opportunity to address affordable housing issues in the FY 2021 budget.

The panel was created by the BoS in July 2018. Its members include representatives from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.


  1. We have enough section 8 in Mason, put these somewhere else.

  2. Fairfax County might need more, but not in Mason or Mt. Vernon. They need to do a better job of distributing it around the county, close to transportation and jobs (hello Tysons!) I strongly support affordable housing, but Fairfax County does a horrible job of distributing it evenly.

    1. I agree 100% with Tnkwalla. Well said. Distribution around the county. Mason is over full.

    2. Actually Mason needs to get rid of some of these units and drop these in Maclean right next door to some of the county's general counsel staff. Let them get a taste of their foolish determinations. I suggest a 20 story section 8 tower to do the job.

    3. Does anyone actually know if this is true? Or is it just proximity bias. I know there’s a shit ton of affordable housing in Springfield.

  3. Considering the fact that Mason is the smallest of the districts ,has the most apartments per square mile and, in all probability, more apartment units than any other district, I'd say that we currently have a large pool of "de facto" affordable housing. And, of course, Penny wants to build more. I wish that she would consider and act on the conditions in which these tenants live.