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Citizens Respond to Affordable Housing Master Plan

At the Arlington Connection, Vernon Miles reported on Tuesday, June 16, 2015, there were "mixed responses" to the Arlington County Board's decision to advertise a public hearing for the recently completed Affordable Housing Master Plan (AHMP). The subtitle of Miles' article said, "County Board moves forward on Affordable Housing Master Plan despite citizen objections."

In his lengthy article, Miles reported:

"Of new ownership created between 2015 and 2040, the Affordable Housing Master Plan proposes that 17.7 percent of housing be made affordable to households living below 60 percent of area median income.

"The plan identifies funding sources in the Affordable Housing Investment Fund, federal and state housing programs, and bond financing. The plan imposes no immediate financial commitments by the county, but the staff report on the plan does. The Affordable Housing Investment Fund, AHIF, is a revolving loan fund composed primarily of loan repayments from projects across the county (45 percent of the AHIF budget), developer contributions (15 percent of the AHIF budget) and general revenue financing from the county (23 percent of the AHIF budget). Between FY2010 and 2014, AHIF averaged $8 million in public funding. In the FY2015 budget, that swelled to to $13 million.

"However, some in the public commented that the plan’s financing remained vague regarding financing outside of AHIF.

“Except for the Tax Increment Financing, which removes revenue from county-school revenue-sharing funds, there are no ongoing added/new revenue streams that will sustain the increases in annual operating costs/subsidies needed to cover increases for county-supplied housing grants and growth in school enrollment,” said Suzanne Sundburg. “The unspoken but obvious conclusion is that significant additional and ongoing taxpayer support will be needed.”

"Supporters of the plan on the County Board argued that the plan’s framework presents a list of options, not demands.

“We haven’t signed a blank check that says ‘go forward and do all these things,’” said County Board Chair Mary Hynes.

"However, the introduction to the document specifies that “the county’s ability to meet the goals of the Affordable Housing Master Plan will depend on the future allocation of resources to programs identified.”

"Implementation of the project was a key concern for many of the five commissions that spoke at the meeting."

Miles also included the following chart from the AHMO (on page 13 of the AHMP), which forecasts household growth through 2040:

Since only an excerpt from the report appears above, read the entire article here. We growled about the County Board's decision to advertise the September meeting on Saturday -- here.

ARLnow.com also reported this morning on the Arlington County Board's decision to advertise a public hearing on the AHMP in September. Their reporting included the following:

"Some critics, however, contend that the county’s new plan is unrealistically expensive and will require considerable additional housing density and school capacity.

"In a presentation to the Arlington County Civic Federation this month, local activist Suzanne Sundburg presented some back of the envelope estimates about the costs.

"Assuming that 632 CAFs would have to be created every year for the next 25 years, Sundburg estimated that it would require $54 million per year in loans from the county’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund, at a cost of $85,000 AHIF funding per unit. That figure doesn’t include rent subsidies that the county provides to some residents living in CAFs.

"Alternatively, if the county were to decide to create CAFs by seeking developer contributions from residential redevelopments, the county would potentially need to allow the creation of more than 200,000 market rate units, based on the ratio of site plan units approved to CAFs created from those approvals in 2014 (1,505 to 111), according to Sundburg.

"Another indirect cost: an increase in school enrollment. Based on several sources, Sundburg estimated that each committed affordable housing unit generates an average of 0.8 students in Arlington Public Schools. That compares to a “student generation factor” of 0.08 for elevator apartments and 0.42 for single family homes in general.

"(Arlington doesn’t break out a student generation factor for CAFs. Russell Schroeder, a project manager for the affordable housing study, said the county does not know the figure yet but is working to calculate it and the financial impact of the master plan’s goals on the school system, following a request from the County Board.)

"During the County Board meeting on Saturday, several members said more information was needed from the school system about how affordable housing would affect student turnover and space limitations.

"But for many of the questions on schooling, the answer was 'it’s complicated.'"

Arlington County poohbahs tout the fact that Arlington residents are among the most highly educated in the nation, but when residents ask for clear and understandable explanations, those same poohbahs tell us 'it's complicated.' Which is it Are the residents well-educated, or are the grand poohbahs unable to explain how their organizations operate? Or worse, they really do think citizens are stupid?

In a short item on Monday, Junee 15, 2015, the Arlington Sun Gazette reported the "Arlington County Board members have voted to take up the proposed Affordable Housing Master Plan after first going on a summer hiatus."

As we growled before there are serious fiscal implications for the taxpayers of Arlington County related to the Affordable Housing Master Plan and it's so-called Implementation Framework. Consequently, we urge Growls readers to review not only the two policy documents -- 1) Affordable Housing Master Plan and 2) Implementation Framework -- but also the R&E committee's report -- available at the Arlington County Civic Federation's website. Then contact members of the Arlington County Board. You can reach them by clicking-on the link below, or call them:

  • Call the County Board office at (703) 228-3130

And tell them ACTA sent you.


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