In northern Virginia, the housing and affordability crisis, the pandemic, and the gradual arrival of Amazon intersect, creating a sense of urgency around protecting residents from displacement.
The neighborhood of Arlandria-Chirilagua has been engaging in a planning process to address this intersection and are now presenting their recommendations for how Alexandria can ensure that affordable housing remains available.
On Monday night, neighborhood planners presented their recommendations at two consecutive meetings, one in English and one in Spanish, in recognition of the neighborhood's large Hispanic and Latino population. Preserving this level of diversity is one of the planning goals established, along with ensuring residents are not displaced, have access to more open space, and have more walkable neighborhoods.
Here are some of the recommendations that focused specifically on housing affordability:
Explore Opportunities for the City to Buy Down Rents
The majority of the rental housing supply in the Arlandria-Chirilagua neighborhood is naturally affordable in the 60-80% of area median income (AMI) range. However, the median household income in the neighborhood is $53,000, putting the majority of households in the 40% AMI range and creating a housing mismatch similar to that seen in DC. The planners recommend that the city be proactive in finding ways to deepen the affordability of the existing housing stock, perhaps by subsidizing or "buying down" rents at properties that are already naturally affordable.
Use Redevelopments of Public Land to Co-Locate Affordable Housing
In a strategy that may seem familiar to DC residents, another recommendation is that Alexandria use development of city-owned land as an opportunity to build affordable housing, co-located with other public services where applicable. A relatively recent example is The Station at Potomac Yard, where affordable apartments sit above a fire station. A separate recommendation encourages Alexandria to provide gap financing in developments that include affordable housing.
Exchange Affordable Housing for Additional Density
In instances where developers want to build above the allowable height or density, 10% of the additional portion of that development would be required as affordable housing, half for households earning up to 40% of AMI (roughly $50,000 for a family of four) and half for households earning up to 50% of AMI (roughly $63,000 for a family of four). Under the current Small Area Plan, developments within the zoning envelope are subject to requirements to contribute to an affordable housing fund or provide affordable units on-site; for developments that exceed height and density maximums, the portion that remains within the zoning allowance is subject to those more lax requirements.
Consider Tweaking Parking Minimums
To incentivize and make affordable housing production more feasible, the planners recommend the city create more flexibility around parking minimums so that developers can repurpose funds that would typically go to building parking spaces.
Other recommendations include provisions like using right of first refusal to ensure affordable housing gets needed repairs, bolstering tenant services and training tenants to advocate for themselves, and exploring other mechanisms like community land trusts. There are also some variables that the recommendations do not address; for example, over half of the neighborhood's rental units are one-bedrooms, leading to overcrowding. There are no provisions as of now to incentivize or in any way codify the need for family-sized rental units.
The recommendations will be presented to the city's Planning Commission in April in anticipation of an initial public hearing in late spring. There will also be a series of meetings held around other areas of planning focus like open space, transportation, land use, and infrastructure through September.
This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/alexandria-planners-recommend-affordability-measures-for-arlandria/18069.
Most Popular... This Week • Last 30 Days • Ever
The development will be located a few blocks south of the Takoma Metro station.... read »
DC's Office of Planning recently looked at DC's migration patterns in 2022. Today, Ur... read »
The new development along South Capitol Street includes a new amenity for UrbanTurf: ... read »
A new plan is on the boards for a group of five townhouses in the middle of DC's Chin... read »
The 30,000 square-foot home has been privately offered for sale since 2018.... read »
UrbanTurf has compiled virtual looks at large new developments around the DC region.... read »
Why condo fees are high in some buildings and low in others can be a difficult questi... read »
Dupont Circle’s Swann House, a former 15-bedroom bed and breakfast, will be listed ... read »
The two-building project will include approximately 825 residential units, 151 lodgin... read »
There are two new proposals to redevelop the center at 14th and U Streets NW that are... read »
With this weekend's DC houseboat tour a day away, UrbanTurf thought it only fitting t... read »
President Obama travels to Denver this morning to sign the stimulus bill that has bee... read »
In this week's installment of Ask An Agent, a reader wonders if there is a rule for h... read »
As The Wharf prepares to begin construction, DC's houseboat community heads to its ne... read »
In this week's installment of Ask An Agent, a reader asks a fairly common question th... read »
DC Real Estate Guides
Short guides to navigating the DC-area real estate market
We've collected all our helpful guides for buying, selling and renting in and around Washington, DC in one place. Visit guides.urbanturf.com or start browsing below!
Intro guides for first-time home buyers
Awesome and unusual real estate from across the DC Metro