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Morning Poll: Use County Land for Affordable Housing?

by ARLnow.com — March 23, 2012 at 10:04 am 2,473 97 Comments

“‘Public land for public good’ is a battle cry making its way up the Arlington agenda,” writes Charlie Clark in his Our Man in Arlington column for the Falls Church News-Press.

The idea, Clark reports, is that existing county-owned land should be used to create affordable housing, reducing the cost of affordable developments by eliminating the need to purchase land from private landholders. Advocates say both unused and already-developed county-owned parcels could be utilized for affordable housing. For instance, an affordable apartment building could be built atop a surface parking lot or a fire station.

Do you support the idea of using county-owned land for affordable housing?

  • JamesE

    *grabs popcorn*

  • nunya

    i’d love to live on top of a fire station. yum!

  • Arlington, Northside

    I would be opposed to this. Housing is a good for the individual, not a public good. Should they decide to do this, it should ONLY be on top of an exisiting building or be factored into the construction of a building with a more public use.

    • pat

      I would argue that housing is very much a public good — as they say, housing is where a job goes to sleep at night.

      • liz

        Correction: Affordable housing is where those that don’t have jobs go to sleep at night.

        • bemused bystander

          Wrong. Affordable housing is for the people who work very hard — maybe harder than you do? — cooking and serving food, cleaning offices, doing landscaping, working construction, taking care of small children and seniors, and otherwise providing services that people don’t want to pay too much for.

  • ArlRes

    Laissez-faire

  • Quoth the Raven

    Depends on what they’re building on top of. If the build on a park, then no. If they build on top of an abandoned county building, then maybe. If it’s on top of an ancient burial ground, than yes.

  • SoArl

    Since the board has made affordable housing a priority, then I would much prefer they build it on county owned land instead of crowding out private investment and development.

    • Frank

      This also eliminates the costs of acquiring the property used for affordable housing, which makes that, uhh, more affordable for the county (which, in turn allows for more affordable housing). Totally agree.

    • Arltoday

      Why is it a priority? There are o many other pertinent things the County should focus on,

      • Josh S

        Advocate for them. Organize people. Talk to officials. Maybe buy some advertising.

  • Swag

    I said yes, but only if the fire station apartments get poles instead of elevators. That could be awesome in multiple ways.

    • Balderdash Champion

      especially if the girls from the clarendon golds gym lived there

      • Arlington, Northside

        I am too old to have a chance with those girls if my wife dumps me, but I agree.

        • JamesE

          you could be 80 as long as you have a fat wallet.

          • KalashniKEV

            +1
            Just give them a baby so they can hang out all day and party with the other young mommies, then grad school after that, then divorce- but by then it’s about time. This is when the Cougar phase begins.

          • Arlington, Northside

            You see my problem.

          • Richard Cranium

            Right. You can be old, you can be poor – you just can’t be both.

  • WeiQiang

    Maybe affordable housing above the Long Bridge Park Aquatic Center.

    Better yet, on top of ACPS schools.

  • liz

    Take a drive into Oldtown, Alexandria along Route 1. That is what affordable housing looks like. Those people are outside on the stoop all day long.

    • WeiQiang

      Confused … what’s your point? Are “those people” breaking the law or something?

      Have you seen ArlCo parks or the National Mall? Those people just lie around for hours. Sometimes they toss a plastic disc or something … COMPLETELY unproductive.

      • liz

        sipping 40s out of brown paper bags. it does wonders for property values.

        • WeiQiang

          Sounds inconvenient for you.

        • esmith69

          It sounds like you just don’t like brown people…

          • liz

            That couldn’t be further from the truth. To look at me- you’d see that.

          • KalashniKEV

            That’s actually a really racist thing to say.

        • 40

          Those paper bags should be replaced by refreezable koozies to keep me colder longer.

      • KalashniKEV

        Yes… but they’re not living off of their neighbors backs. And these people feel no shame!

        • WeiQiang

          … and you know this because … ??

      • zzzSleeper

        +1

    • South Awwwlington

      We’re talking the west side of Route 1, behind the tire stores, etc?

      As for public land for public good, the argument makes more sense the stymieing development on private land and chances are the public lands would not be concentrated together.

    • nom de guerre

      I believe Alexandria has public housing which is owned by the government. Arlington has chosen to promote affordable housing which is privately owned and subsidized through payments and various types of incentives. It seems that this proposal will put the County into the realm of public housing.

      • bemused bystander

        Not necessarily. The County owns the Arlington Mill property but the affordable housing is being developed by a non-profit under an agreement with the county.

    • Autoexec.bat

      Same story right in front of Braddock Road Metro. Huge public housing slum with multi-generational government dependence on display 24/7.

      • liz

        more crime flooding into the area too.

        it’s time to be real. we’d like to think it would be filled by the teachers, fireman and police, etc—we ALL know it never works that way.

        • chipotle_addict

          The income numbers required for “assistance” are absurdly low. I don’t think anyone could legitimately live on those incomes. However, you throw in some “under the table” income due to prostitution, drug dealing, or anything else that goes unreported, and I suppose you could slid under the income limit and still make it by day to day.

        • Ed

          Liz, you understand there’s all sorts of affordable housing here in Arlington already, right? The fact that you have to go outside of the County to find places to complain about — maybe that means the County knows how to do it the right way?

          • liz

            Yes. There is a building in my neighborhood that we fought tooth in nail. I am well aware of affordable housing. I will continue to fight any that encroaches on my neighborhood.

          • John Snyder

            Oh. You’re one of them. That explains it.

        • car-free diet

          Liz, before making such a bold and broad claim you must present some objective evidence supporting your claim.

          Arlington and Alexandria in the past have not followed the same path in assisting low income/wealth individuals with their housing. Alexandria followed the path of building large complexes of communities of public housing that congregated the low income/wealth individuals together. This magnified the difficulties for the individuals in these communities in assimilating into the larger society. For one thing, for children growing up in these communities it limited their access to working and middle income individuals on whom they could model their behavior.

          As others have noted on this post, Arlington has taken the more successful path of spreading affordable housing throughout much of the county, in most cases as only part of a larger development that include private sector owners/renters, that in many cases assured a diverse community of individuals that care for the health and safety of their community and neighbors, and positive role-models for the children growing up in these communities.

          The obvious success of the approach taken by Arlington is reflected in the steps being taken by Alexandria to adopt this approach. You may have noticed that the City of Alexandria has permitted the demolition of a significant proportion of the Route 1 public housing to be replaced with both market rate townhouses and condos along with affordable housing. It is my understanding that this part of an effort in Alexandria not to reduce its commitment to affordable housing, but a commitment to make the funds it spends on affordable housing more effective for both the larger community and the direct beneficiaries.

          • SoArl

            But they are not spreading it across the county. Right now, they are concentrating it on the west end of Columbia Pike.

          • Josh S

            I wonder if you ever bother to question anything you believe.

            Your statements are patently untrue.

          • SoArl

            No they’re not. Look it up. After Arlington Mill and the replacement for the gas station further down the pike are finished, Columbia Heights West will have 30% of all committed affordable housing in Arlington. What’s will the hostility?

          • liz

            “For one thing, for children growing up in these communities it limited their access to working and middle income individuals on whom they could model their behavior.”

            If mom and dad are deadbeats or addicts–those kids don’t stand a chance anyway. Being around kids of affluence and not being able to have a few dollars to get a pinkberry isn’t going to help their situation or change what is going on at home.

            By all means fix their home schools–but don’t kid yourself that dropping their families in the center of affluence solves their problems.

          • esmith69

            So then you’re advocating that we just give up on all the poor kids? Seriously??

          • Liz

            Way to miss the point completely. I never said or implied that we should give up on poor kids. I don’t think Arlington’s affordable housing agenda even begins to address the root of their problems. It is a big horse and pony show. Great agenda for an election cycle, btw.

          • dk

            Liz, I don’t think anyone is missing your point, because you haven’t made a point here. What you have said is that providing housing for the children of deadbeats or addicts won’t help them, strongly implying that you think we shouldn’t do this, but rather should do something else. But you have offered no alternatives. So what’s your point?

          • liz

            Better yet, Car Free, they can come live with you.

            At least I am not a hypocrite and own up to the “NIMBY’. I paid a lot for that back yard.

            As the other poster pointed out—these communities are mostly along C.Pike.

    • Josh S

      Uh, you might want to climb out of your own head occasionally.

      This is also what affordable housing looks like: http://www.kenyonsquare.com/
      http://www.dccondoboutique.com/city-vista.php
      http://www.dccondoboutique.com/verona-parc.php
      http://www.highlandparkdc.com/

      Now granted, none of those developments are 100% affordable. Most include about 30% affordable units along with the market rate units. But all were built on District-owned land. It’s a model which could be replicated in Arlington.

      • South Awwwlington

        This would also requiring the board to lift the development provision that allows developers to buy their way out of providing the units within each building.

        So long as we shacking them all up together, you’re not getting buildings like that.

        • Josh S

          I don’t fully understand your post but, yes, it would require not allowing developers to buy their way out of providing amenities. Although it might be possible to say if you can’t provide affordable units in this location, you must provide them in another location.

          I didn’t read the newspaper article that this all stems from but I don’t think it was their intention that Arlington actually construct and operate the affordable housing. Rather, by providing free or cheap land, it would help developers to get their math to work so that they could still make a profit even with some affordable units as part of the project.

  • KalashniKEV

    If they are co-located in a county building, perhaps they could perform custodial services on the building and save us all some money.

    • WeiQiang

      WorkFare!

      • Arlington, Northside

        Worked in the ’90s!

  • E

    BUILD UP! That is the solution. Enough of these tiny 4 level buildings. Make them big. That will help.

  • southarlington

    Question why does the county feel the need to have everyone live in Arlington if you can not afford to live here then move somewhere else..why is Arlington going down this road…how does this help bring in taxes for the county ?

    • Me ke

      Amen

      • liz

        let’s make sure they all have 3+ kids too so we can overcrowd our schools even more!!!!

        • KalashniKEV

          <3
          I want to have kids with you.

    • nom de guerre

      But only having people who can afford to live here is a threat to the County Board’s vision for a vibrant, diverse, inclusive, sustainable (insert other buzzwords here) community.

      • liz

        Fkin BS! Been to Greenwich Village, Chelsea, Soho, etc.?Hardly cheap enclaves filled with affordable housing. Time to oust these d-bags off the Board.

      • car-free diet

        Car-Free

        • nom de guerre

          walkable. When I was growing up in Arlington, at least prior to obtaining a driver’s license, the entire County was walkable and accessible by bicycle.

    • Josh S

      Not sure that bringing taxes in for the county is the only goal allowed for local government.

  • E

    Arlington is pretty liberal, not elitist. Granted many rich fools live here, but they want equality. That is why.

    • liz

      they are delusional. waaahhhhhhhhhhhhhh I want to live near Central park. The affordable housing is not available there. people pay good $ to live away from crime. Let’s not bring it to their doorsteps.

      • Ballstonian

        This is something that I’m always confused by. If lower income people should be provided assistance to be able to live were I pay a high price to live, should I then be provided assistance so that I can be allowed to live in an even nicer area that I can’t afford?

        • Liberal Elitist

          So true!

          Not all otherwise-liberals want to be surrounded by low-income people. Keep them as far away from me as possible. They can live in Hoodbridge or Mannasty and drive in to do their jobs–then leave.

          If their children can get degrees, good jobs, and become quiet, temperate adults, then *they* can live in the better ‘hoods of Arl.

        • southarlington

          I think you should and that goes for me too. I want assitance to live here even if I can afford to live here. I want to live in a safe area and I pay a lot in county taxes to live that way …I also pay a lot to have my kids go to a good school that should not be overcrowded because the county is to lazy to enforce the rules !!!!! Yes diversity is good but not at the expense of everyone else….

          • Squirginia Vare

            I think that a lot of times people talk about “diversity” to feel good about themselves, and its almost as if it is ok to have certain groups “present” in an area, as long as they stay in their own little enclave and don’t make a fuss. In order to benefit from diversity, one actually has to interact with the “diverse” people, which doesn’t always happen. Saying Arlington has a vibrant “X Community” doesn’t mean much if that community and its neighbors (and Arlington as a whole) don’t interact much.

          • John K.

            +100

          • South Awwwlington

            that’s how you win awards…and that’s all that drives this Board. Ego stroking, megalomaniacs.

      • southarlington

        That goes for me too I want to live on the coast in CA ……..but again I know what I can and can not afford and do not ask for help to live there…..

    • Hmm…

      Yes but Arlnow is full of lazy libertarians..

    • KalashniKEV

      They don’t want equality- they want to ease their guilt over the feeling that their success in life is beyond what they have earned.

      That is why they want to keep a poor person or two in the neighborhood, pat them on the head, feed them scraps, and have them say, “Thank you” often. It makes them feel good about themselves.

  • arlington4

    Polls where you must make a binary choice between two potential extremes are not helpful. Suppose I wanted my response to be, “Yes, but only within significant limits”?

  • SD

    The public housing/assistance model is broken, and without implemented changes that offer incentives and carry threats of eviction to the residents, it will never work. I lived next to a section 8 rental for years, and each of the 3 “families” that rented it were scamming the system to the best of their abilities. This included hiding unauthorized tenants, drug use and trafficing, loitering, noise, trash, you name it.

    And the landlords are no better. They are guaranteed income so they look the other way despite knowing about violations.

    Sadly, there is a society well versed in milking this system and as pointed out in other posts, spend most of there time sitting on the stoop and wasting their lives away. It’s a frustrating environment to be in when you and your family work hard every day so you can pay your bills legitimately, to come home to this surly group of people.

    Frankly, there’s no reason Arlington should even be pursuing affordable housing. It’s prime real estate and the market should drive the price. Save the assistance for developments on a metro line on the outskirts of the metro area.

  • JohnB

    687 views and 62 comments. Seems like (with a few exceptions) a very loud minority with simplistic views.

    • Josh S

      I think that’s actually probably a high ratio of comments to views.

      Which doesn’t mean that ARLnow’s comment boards aren’t filled with minority viewpoints expressed simplistically…….

      • KalashniKEV

        If we were more sophisticated, we wouldn’t care about our health, safety, property values, and what is morally just.

      • liz

        Too many people are afraid to say what we all think. It doesn’t make you a bad person to not want affordable housing units next to you and your kids. Not at all. Yet—god forbid you say that out loud….ooohhhh…baaaadddd.

  • zzzSleeper

    I meant my +1 to go to the person who talked about the folks on the National Mall lying around. lol

    Too bad some of you don’t want Arlington to welcome people of all financial brackets. Obviously you don’t know anyone who lives in affordable housing. It seems clear by some of these negative comments that you only want to see and be around people who are just like you. I find that bizarre.

    • liz

      We only want to LIVE by people in the same socioeconomic brackets, correct.

      I lived in a group house with a bunch of other people in my twenties. Once I started making bank– I moved. I did not have anyone subsidizing my home in Georgetown or Clarendon or Oldtown back when I was making 19K/year. Nope.

      • bemused bystander

        Socioeconomic bracket is just one of my criteria. I’d also prefer to live among people with less self-absorbed, narrow, arrogant views.

        • esmith69

          +100

        • Liz

          Give me a break. Narrow and self-absorbed because I paid a million dollars for good schools and SAFE community? Check the crime blotters near the affordable housing plots.

          If you want Eco-diversity move to columbia heights or mt. Pleasant and have your kids avoid stepping on used condoms and used needles (yes our former neighborhood). Get real —you are a richie that has never experienced socio economic diversity, lived off your parents’ dime and feel guilty. If you pulled yourself up by your bootstraps you would have an entirely different view, you bleeding heart.

          I don’t know why Arlington strives to be a slum. The Board is a bunch of slugs that have done nothing for the children of Arlington, but provide more trailers, bigger class sizes and less “green” space.

          • Josh S

            Lady, please crawl back under your rock. No one is impressed by your bootstraps, the price of your home, etc. These things may impress you, but other people just don’t care. When you couple the mindless tooting with some truly despicable attitudes about people not as well off as you – basically you ruin any shred of dignity or credibility you might otherwise have.

          • John Snyder

            Liz, you demonstrate one of the least recognized but most valuable benefits of affordable housing–it repels certain people.

        • dk

          Exactly.

  • Ashton Heights

    Two questions:
    (1) Affordable housing is supposed to be for the teachers, policemen, firemen, EMTs, etc. who work in Arlington but cannot afford to live here. How have we or do we make sure the teachers, policemen, firemen, EMTs, etc get the affordable housing?
    (2) If the goal is to provide affordable housing foir as many people as possible, why don’t we buy affordable housing in PW County and bus people to and from? We can buy a lot more afforable housing there.

    • Josh S

      No, affordable housing is not supposed to be for those people. It is supposed to be for people who make less than a certain percentage of the area median income, adjusted for household size. That’s it. Ideally, you’d have working class people who can’t otherwise afford to live in the community because of very high real estate prices. You don’t want to benefit the trust fund kid attending Georgetown law school, but unfortunately, there are those perfectly willing to game the system and that’s what you get. But there seems to be little way to guarantee that any particular profession gets the units. The county, I believe, gets around that to some extent by offering down payment assistance to county employees.
      Bus people to and from where? I guess it’s not meant to be taken seriously, though.

  • NIMBette

    There is already plenty of affordable housing – in Fairfax and Prince William counties. With all the properties that are in foreclosure, there is no need to dedicate valuable land towards this misguided goal. Other than some feel-good ‘diversity’ goal, what do we really gain?

  • Ballston Bob

    There is plenty of affordable housing in Arlington, but it’s not located less than 100 yards from a Metro station, or surrounded by bars and trendy shops. If you want to live in a cool place, you’ll have to pay a premium for it.

    • Liz

      As it should be…

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