Affordable Housing is Dwindling in Arlington

by Lark Turner

Affordable Housing is Dwindling in Arlington: Figure 1

Arlington is running out of affordable housing, according to the recently-released results of a three-year study.

The study, which was first reported on by ARLNow, found that the county’s housing market is no longer creating affordable homes and will require government investment to keep low- and very low-income residents housed.

The report looked at affordable housing in the county generally. Housing is typically considered affordable if a family puts no more than 30 percent of their income toward housing. The study more specifically looked at market-rate affordable housing, which is housing owned by for-profit landlords offered at rates affordable to people making 60 percent of the county’s area median income. This measure basically answers the question: Can a person making a modest wage look for a rental apartment and find one that’s affordable without going through government channels?

In Arlington, the answer to that question may soon be no. Market-rate affordable housing has declined “precipitously” since 2000, the report found, and may run out entirely in the next five years. Home prices have gone up in the county as well, the report noted: Between 2000 and 2013, prices went up by 140 percent on average and rent rose 91 percent. At the same time, 13,500 affordable housing units in Arlington were lost, mostly to rising rent.

The study will form the basis of a master plan to provide more affordable housing based on the county’s housing goals. A draft of the master plan suggests that one way of increasing affordable housing, by allowing developers to apply for bonus density on their projects, will continue and may even be made larger in the coming years to help finance affordable housing. The program lets developers build larger buildings in exchange for contributing affordable housing to their projects.

“Bonus Density has proven to be an effective tool for producing affordable housing in the County,” the draft notes. It advises that the county “consider raising or removing the limits on bonus density above 25 percent (or 0.25 FAR)” and take other steps to evaluate, streamline and take best advantage of the bonus density program.

See other articles related to: arlington, affordable housing, affordability

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/affordable_housing_is_dwindling_in_arlington/9619

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