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Spending on So-Called Affordable Housing

If Arlington County taxpaywers want to see where some of your local tax dollars are going, turn to page 35 of the County’s Fiscal Year 2008 Adopted Budget. Thanks to direction from the County Board several years ago, the Manager and his Department of Management & Finance staff now consolidate expenditures and revenues for three “multi-departmental programs  -- housing, senior adults and youth -- on a single page.

For the moment, let’s focus just on the 21 housing programs, which span four separate departments. One way of looking at the housing programs is according to the department that administers the program:

  1. Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development (CPHD). Programs include homeownership services, housing services, neighborhood strategy areas, code enforcement, housing planning, housing division, housing development (AHC, etc.), and AHC rehabilitation program.
  2. County Manager’s Office. Fair housing program.
  3. Department of Human Services (DHS). Section 8 housing, housing grants, supportive housing,  transitional housing grants, assisted living residence, homeless shelter, mental health residential services, and intellectual and developmental disability residential services.
  4. Non-Departmental. Homeowner grants (administered by DHS) and the so-called affordable housing investment fund.
Most of the housing programs require something called “net tax support” (NTS) although it should properly be called “net local taxpayer support” since many of the programs get revenues, primarily from the federal or state government. Let’s take a look at several of the larger programs:
  • Section 8 housing. This federal housing program is budgeted to cost $16.0 million, but no NTS.
  • Housing Services. Staffs the housing information center, handles tenant-landlord relations, and tenant relocations with expenditures budgeted at $487,000, revenues of $38,000, and requires NTS of $449,000.
  • Housing Grants. These provide housing subsidies for the needy, and budgeted with $4.3 million of NTS.
  • Real Estate Tax Relief. Provides an exemption or partial exemption of real estate taxes for homeowners age 65 and older or certain disabled persons. Expected budgeted expenditures, all NLT, are $4.5 million.
  • Homeless shelter program. Expenditures $2.5 million, expected revenues $89,000, and NTS of $2.4 million.

Overall, the 21 programs cost taxpayers $40.8 million, expect to receive $16.0 million in revenues, mostly from federal taxpayers, and will cost Arlington taxpayers $$24.8 million in NTS. However, all of it is not used for affordable housing, strictly speaking. Take a few moments, and look at the adopted budget to see just how much all of the 21 programs are costing you.

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