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Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com — November 27, 2012 at 9:10 am 2,487 126 Comments

Arlington Gets Largest Share of Transit Growth — Over the past 11 years, the rate of growth of those who use public transit in Arlington has been higher than any other D.C. area jurisdiction. Chris Hamilton, chief of Arlington Commuter Services, attributes that growth to the county’s transit outreach efforts. [Mobility Lab]

Homebuyer Assistance Available — The Arlington County Board recently approved $500,000 to help qualified first time homebuyers purchase a new home in the county. The funds are available for down payment and closing cost assistance for about 10-15 low- to moderate-income households. Applications will be accepted started Dec. 3. [Arlington County]

Talk: ‘Books that Shaped America’ — Tomorrow, Nov. 28, Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street) will host a talk about “88 remarkable books” that “shaped America.” Mark Dimunation, head of the Rare Book and Special Collections Division at the Library of Congress, will talk about how he and a group of historians, scientists and literary experts helped to select the books — from Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense” to Dr. Seuss’ “The Cat in the Hat.” [Arlington Public Library]

  • CW

    500k/10 familes = 50K each…for down payment and closing costs? Yeesh, only in Arlington is that low-to-moderate income.

  • Heather

    Avg closing cost would be about 3% + down payment of 3.5% plus MIP funding fee on a modest $400,000 home would NOT be $50,000. Hope this $ gets spread around efficiently.

    • Josh S

      It may be that the program requires folks to put more than 3.5% down. Isn’t that rather low? Even if the bank let me put down only 3.5%, I’d be pretty unsure that I’d actually do that – seems financially risky / foolish.

      • John Fontain

        From the Moderate Income Purchase Assistance (MIPAP) website:

        “Minimum down payment: 1% of the purchase price”

        • Ben

          This is exactly how we got into the mess in the first place. Giving people with little to no income the ability to purchase properties well outside of their price range.

          Under no circumstances should a family making less than 60k~80k purchase a 400k home.

    • drax

      The maximum purchase price is $362,790.

  • The 53 percent

    Remind me why the Arlington taxpayers must give no-interest loans to “moderate income” people so they can live in a community that they otherwise can’t afford? Couldn’t we just tell them to work hard, compete for a better job, and take responsbility for themselves? This is why our country is going down the tubes. So many people improve their lives by handouts rather than by hard work.

    • drax

      So you got no help from your parents or any government program to buy a home?

      Home-buying is a perfect example of why your logic is flawed. If you can’t get a little help to buy, you are stuck paying rent forever. That keeps you from investing your hard work into something lasting. Our country is going down the tubes because people like you refuse to give even a little help, so people can’t help themselves and end up needing alot more help later.

      • Captain_Obvious

        I got help from a bank, because I worked hard to save money and have good credit to get a good loan from the bank. I get that people need help, but what about helping your own family first ?

        • Josh S

          ?
          Who’s stopping you from helping your own family first?

          • drax

            Helping your own family? Wait a minute…

            “Couldn’t we just tell them to work hard, compete for a better job, and take responsbility for themselves? This is why our country is going down the tubes. So many people improve their lives by handouts rather than by hard work.”

          • Captain_Obvious

            the county.

          • Josh S

            How, Capt?

          • Captain_Obvious

            by taxing us to let people live here who can’t afford to otherwise. Got it ?

          • Josh S

            I got that that is what you are asserting. However, what I don’t got is how you can prove that you have not been able to provide for your family based on the marginal cost to you of this program.

          • Captain_Obvious

            Why do you get to declare that its a marginal cost ? Having 2 kids, mortgage payment, etc., I’ll take that marginal cost back in my pocket any day, especially since I can already afford to live here. I get rental assistance, but not this. If they can’t afford to buy the home in the first place, what makes you think they’ll be able to keep up with the payments ?

          • Josh S

            No, Capt, not marginal, as in less than important, but marginal as in incremental. If the program was eliminated, the taxes you pay to Arlington on an annual basis would change by perhaps $1. So, *on the margin*, the program does not realistically prevent you from taking care of your own family first. However, on the margin, it makes a *huge* difference to the families that benefit.

        • drax

          Good for you.

          • Captain_Obvious

            it is good for me, bad for your argument.

          • drax

            Bad for my argument? No. You don’t even know what my argument is.

          • Captain_Obvious

            Do you? Your argument seems to be the opposite of other comments. Do you actually have an opinion on this ?

          • drax

            See my comment above from 9:45 am.

          • Captain_Obvious

            ok…53% is right, you’re not. How can I refuse to help someone when it keeps coming out of my paycheck ?

          • drax

            No, you still don’t understand my argument, or really his either.

          • Captain_Obvious

            yes I do, they’re not rocket science. I happen to agree with 53% and disagree with you, doesn’t mean I don’t understand.

          • drax

            Since your comment makes no sense, no, you don’t. And I’m done trying to help you read.

          • Captain_Obvious

            oh.my.god. neither yours nor 53%’s opinions are that difficult to understand. 53 thinks people should work harder instead of relying on handouts and you think everyone gets help buying a home and people should give a little more so our country doesn’t go down the tubes…that’s exactly what you said, I understand perfectly.

      • Crystal Lite

        I haven’t bought a home yet because, while I have enough for a 20% down payment, said payment would virtually drain me of all of my savings and I’m not comfortable with that. Home prices wouldn’t have risen as astronomically here if people had actually done the right thing and put some equity into their purchase. So, I for one, will not be relying on my parents or a government program to buy a home.

        Not to mention that I won’t buy in Arlington because I can’t get the space I want for a price a can afford. But I’m glad to see that we have programs for people to buy here who can’t afford to own here either (*sarcasm*).

      • Greg

        This is just plain wrong. Paying rent is better than buying a house and then defaulting. Homeownership comes with many responsibilities that people fail to take into account: 1% in property taxes, thousands or tens of thousands per year in upkeep, and increased monthly expenses such as sewer/water, trash, etc.

        If you can’t afford the down payment, you can’t afford the house. If you’re unable to save the money for the down payment, you’re probably unable to repay 2 loans.

        The government was partly responsible for the subprime mortgage mess and it’s because of Reagan’s and Clinton’s and Bush’s policies that promoted homeownership without regard to prudent underwriting standards.

        So frustrating.

        • drax

          http://mediamatters.org/research/2011/10/11/still-wrong-crowley-revives-myth-that-community/182896

          Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission: “The CRA Was Not A Significant Factor In Subprime Lending Or The Crisis.”

          Federal Reserve: “We Find Little Evidence That Either the CRA Or The GSE [Government-Sponsored Enterprise] goals played a significant role in the subprime crisis.”

          Just FYI.

          • Greg

            I’ve read the Fed’s paper and I’ve seen first hand how the Fed operates. They decide on an answer, and then they use whichever data best tells that story.

            The Fed by their own admission say that CRA and GSE targets resulted in significant increases in lending in the demographics that suffered the worst losses. Their conclusion that “they find little evidence that CRA or GSE goals played a part” is based on the assertion that it would have happened anyway. That is the most absurd thing I’ve ever heard.

        • Josh S

          Yeah, you’d have to work a little to point to specific Reagan, Clinton (or probably even Bush) policies that promoted the relaxation of underwriting standards to the degree that they actually were. Unless you’re talking about the repeal of Glass-Steagall?

    • Josh S

      So your position in society is entirely your own doing? Simply your hard work?

      A “better job?” Geez, you could be a bit more patronizing if you tried a little harder…..

      • Captain_Obvious

        But what about his first question ??

        • nom de guerre

          It’s complicated.

          • Captain_Obvious

            sigh, it is. I hope someone can break it down for me in non-complicated terms.

      • The 53 percent

        I think the theory that peoples’ position in society exhibits a correlation with their level of effort and hard work is a generally valid one.

        • Josh S

          I wholeheartedly disagree. It’s the whole born on third base and thinks he hit a triple business – inheretence, family connections, starting wealthy and staying wealthy, etc. Yes, a poor person CAN work hard and establish wealth, but it’s simply not a level playing field to start with. Any sort of casual research into actual income bracket mobility shows it to be true, especially over the last thirty plus years in our era of oligarchy.
          This program would represent a very modest level of recognition by society that this is the case and we will try in a formal way to help those who need a boost.
          Grumbling by the well-to-do about taxes is completely disingenuous. Please show me a single wealthy person who has ever been brought to ruin by taxation. Begrudging this kind of program is just Scroogish.

          • Captain_Obvious

            its not scroogish when you see that households in this program are making over 6 figures.

        • dk (not DK)

          Spoken like someone who has never spent 40 hours a week picking strawberries, cleaning toilets, waiting tables, working commercial fishing or logging, installing roofs, or operating heavy machinery.

          • The 53 percent

            Actually, the time I spent working as a gas station attendant in high school convinced me to go to college and get a degree. I don’t believe that a lot of lower income people are only in that category because they are victims. Let’s generally encourage hard work and discourage handouts. Especially if those handouts are funded by mandatory taxes on others.

          • drax

            Did you pay your entire way through college, The 53 Percent? With no loans or gifts from parents or the government?

          • dk (not DK)

            Right, then you know from first hand experience that working hard doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with one’s position in society. No one said anything about being a victim. What we *are* talking about is blaming people for being poor. What we are talking about is looking at someone who is less well-off and saying, “well you must not be working hard enough.” That’s B.S. Many of the hardest jobs pay relatively little. In fact, one could even say that the most difficult, back-breaking, exhausting jobs in our society are the *least* well paid. It takes a special kind of hubris to look at the working poor and say that they just aren’t working hard enough.

          • drax

            Thanks for your answer on another thread, 53 Percent. Sure glad you were able to benefit from a student loan.

        • drax

          I think it’s insane.

          The only factor in your success is how hard you work? There are no others? That’s ridiculous.

          And if you make 100 times more than someone, it means you work 100 times harder? Nope. Impossible.

          • NoVapologist

            I can’t speak for the 53 percent, but I paid my own way through college – without loans or gifts. My wife and I also bought our own home (without family or government assistance) by saving a set amount each month for a few years. Believing that the only way to become successful is through “inheritance or family connections” is a defeatist fallacy that goes a long way in explaining why many people never try very hard to move up the income ladder. After all – if you believe the game is rigged, why would you bother to even try?

          • drax

            I don’t think anyone here has said they believe the only way to success is inheritance or family connections. Of course not.

            What I am saying is that some success is earned and some isn’t. Some people work hard and make it big. Some work hard and still fail. Some people work very little and make it big.

            The simplistic “if you want to be rich all you have to do is work hard” is simplistic and naive. That’s all. To use the latest meme – it’s more complicated than that.

            That’s not a defense of this home program, btw.

          • Josh S

            You’re twisting the argument. No one says that the ONLY way to become wealthy is through inheritance, etc. No one is disputing that hard work is an admirable thing. I’m not even challenging the notion that some wealthy people did get wealthy solely by elbow grease.
            However, none of this changes the fact that for many people living in poverty, the deck is stacked against them in very significant ways as compared to those who are born into more comfortable surroundings. There is a good reason why the phrase “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer” was invented. It’s not just sour grapes or jealousy. It’s reality. So, as dk above notes, it’s absurd to reject social improvement programs as nothing but handouts and for Romney to talk about 47% of Americans who just take take take. And this leaves aside any arguments about how society as a whole benefits from efforts to improve everyone’s lot.

          • Captain_Obvious

            you mean like this simplistic and naive statement: “If you can’t get a little help to buy, you are stuck paying rent forever. That keeps you from investing your hard work into something lasting”

          • drax

            When I said “you” obviously I meant those who are at risk of being stuck, not everyone. Glad to help you understand.

        • Donald Trump

          Damn straight 53%!

      • Greg

        It’s not entirely your own doing, but that doesn’t mean we should give things away to level the playing field (that’s socialism).

        I grew up in a lower income family (not Arlington low, $20-30k low). I studied and did well in school, and got scholarships and loans. I repaid them. I bought a house with my own money and without government assistance.

        I just don’t understand why I should now subsidize people who are more well off than I was so they can buy a house within 5 miles of DC. If you can’t afford to live here, move further away. Jeez.

        • dk (not DK)

          the problem is that it is demonstrably more difficult to make these kinds of advances in life now than it was 20 or 30 or 50 years ago. We have (whether by design or accident) constructed a system that all but guarantees social immobility. And then we blame people for not doing more to better themselves.

          It’s fine to tell people that they can’t afford to live in Arlington, so move further away. But one problem with this view is that closer in is where the jobs are. Hard to better yourself if you can’t afford to live where the jobs are and can’t get to the jobs if you live far away.

          • Captain_Obvious

            but people who can’t afford to live where the jobs are, still find a way to get to these jobs.

          • drax

            Some do, but that is also becoming more difficult and expensive.

            To find affordable housing, people move way out in the suburbs. Then they have to own a car, and buy gas, and drive 50-100 miles a day.

          • dk (not DK)

            Captain, many people do, of course. Those are the people who can afford their housing costs as well as a car (and gas and upkeep) and also do not have issues/concerns that compromise their ability to spend time commuting long distances each day. For example, someone with young children in need of childcare would need to either (a) find a childcare provider near their far-away home that will agree to provide care from, say, 7 am to 6:30 pm each day or (b) find pricier childcare closer to the job and commute with the child in order to limit the number of hours childcare was needed. (This option, of course, could also compromise the use of other money-saving alternatives, like carpooling, public transit, etc.) For people at the lowest income levels, these problems can be insurmountable. It doesn’t matter if the rent out there is affordable if you can’t afford a car and public transit is unavailable or unsuitable for your needs.

            I’m not saying that subsidized housing is the answer. All I’m really asking for is that people try to have a little compassion. Sometimes it’s really not so simple as: move!

          • Captain_Obvious

            right drax, you just proved my point no matter how difficult it is for someone to do it, they are doing it on a daily basis. I’ve worked with people who commute from WV every day…

          • Captain_Obvious

            dk, compassion is different than constantly giving handouts.

          • drax

            And you could live in a tent, CW. People are doing that too. Doesn’t mean it’s a good thing, or that we should be happy with it as a nation. Or that it bodes well for our future.

            More people are going to want cheap housing, and they’ll have to move even further out. There’s a limit to how many hours a day they can give to commuting. It can’t continue forever.

          • drax

            *Directed to Capt. Obvious, not CW, obviously.

          • dk (not DK)

            Captain, compassion may be different from constantly giving handouts, but perhaps if people had a little more compassion (or a little more imagination) they would realize that the answer to the problem of lack of affordable housing is unlikely to be “move!”

          • Captain_Obvious

            d-rax, I could care less how far people commute to their jobs…to each their own.

            @dk, actually, telling people to move is more compassionate, maybe they won’t live beyond their means in an area they can barely afford to live in.

          • Quoth the Raven

            Why must people buy? If you can’t afford to own a home in a particular place, what’s wrong with renting? I know people like to own their homes, but renting is just fine and often makes more sense financially.

          • Josh S

            But you should care. There are negative externalities to people commuting a long way. While we should never forbid it, we can create programs that help people to not have to do it.

          • dk (not DK)

            Captain, my point is that for many people moving is NOT the answer, because the jobs are here, and the if they move they have no viable means of getting here. In other words, by moving, they might reduce their costs of living (not counting commuting) but if they have no employment (or employment paying much less), they haven’t bettered their circumstances.

            We have one of the lowest rates of unemployment in the nation. Telling people to move where there are fewer available jobs so that their housing costs will be lower probably doesn’t strike too many as “problem solving.”

        • Josh S

          Greg -

          Two things come to mind. First, that’s not socialism. It’s a far cry from socialism. Also, “give things away?” Can you tally all the things that have been “given away” to you by the government? It would be a fairly long list, wouldn’t it?

          Second, inflation. I don’t know how old you are or where you grew up, but it is possible that $20K doesn’t go nearly as far as it used to. “More well off” is a relative term.

          • Greg

            I can’t think of a single thing given to me by the government. The closest I ever got was the 1st time homebuyer tax credit, but I made too much to qualify. I can tell you with absolute certainty the local government sure as hell didn’t give me anything.

            That $20-30k adjusted for inflation isn’t much higher now. I won’t give my age but I was born when Reagan was president.

          • drax

            Um, mortgage deduction, Greg?

  • Ballstonian

    What is the rationale for helping people who can’t afford to live in Arlington to live in Arlington? Is it just to be nice, or is there some sort of benefit for the rest of us (including those of us who are currently renting because they can’t afford to buy in Arlington but who aren’t low income)?

    • ebenezer

      It’s so we don’t have to pay teachers, firemen, police and other people on whose services we depend a wage tat would allow them to purchase a home here. It helps us all to continue being cheap.

      • Ballstonian

        Is there a requirement that the applicants/recipients be teachers, firemen, police, etc? Or is it simply low-moderate income?

        • Ballstonian

          Given that there is no requirement to work in the county, and the pre-buying course is offered in Spanish, i would guess the answer is no.

          • Josh S

            Offered in English and Spanish.
            I believe there are separate programs available specifically for Arlington employees.
            Having people live closer to where they work is desirable from a social standpoint as it reduces demands on the transportation network, possibly reduces pollution from driving cars, improves economic activity in the community, increases the level of communal involvement, etc.

        • Son of a Teacher

          Is there a difference? I prefer to make it easier for our local teachers, fireman, police, etc… to live close to where they work but I am not opposed to helping all low-moderate income families do the same.

          • Ballstonian

            I think the diference is that if there’s a work-for-the-county requirement, then there may be some actual benefits to the rest of us (retaining teachers, etc). but if there’s no such requirement, which there isnt (in fact, you don’t even have to work in Arlington), then any benefit to the rest of us is lessened if not eliminated. If you want to help the less fortunate, that is fine (and noble). but don’t try and sell it as “you’re actually helping yourself.”

          • Ballstonian

            Without a work for/in Arlington requirement, the idea that people will be living closer to work, and all of the “benefits” that entails, is simply a “best case” scenario. its just as likely that people who currently live/work in DC will move to Arlington and then commute to their jobs in DC, which will actually worsen transportation, etc.

          • Son of a Teacher

            Agreed. I thought there used to be a work-for-the-county requirement, or maybe there is under another program. Who can we thank for not having this requirement in this program?? (I know the answer, and I didn’t vote for any of them) Don’t forget about all the “drive til you qualify” households out 66 commuting to DC. Many more of them vs our 47% neighbors.

  • John Fontain

    From the Moderate Income Purchase Assistance (MIPAP) website:

    “Minimum down payment: 1% of the purchase price”

    and

    “Shared Appreciation Model: The shared appreciation model allows eligible low and moderate income first-time homebuyers to qualify for a subordinated loan of up to 25% of the purchase price. There is no interest or monthly loan repayments associated with this program. When a homeowner chooses to sell or refinance the property, the owner must repay the principal of the original subordinate loan, plus a proportionate share (up to 25%) of the difference between the original purchase price and the new sales price less the value of any seller’s concessions.”

    So get this, by putting down just 1% of the purchase price, a homebuyer participating in this program:

    -gets a 25% down payment paid by taxpayers;
    -only has to make payments of principle and interest on 75% of the purchase price for their entire period of ownership (which could be indefinite); and
    -this is the real kicker, gets to keep 75% of the profits if the house is ever sold despite the fact that they only put down 1% of the purchase price!!!

    • drax

      I think you’re reading it wrong.

      • Captain_Obvious

        explain…

        • CW

          It’s complicated…

          (joking, joking!)

      • Greg

        I read it the same way as OP. How do you read it?

        • drax

          “-gets a 25% down payment paid by taxpayers”

          No, a loan for that amount that must be repaid to the taxpayers.

          “-only has to make payments of principle and interest on 75% of the purchase price for their entire period of ownership (which could be indefinite); and”

          Yes, except no ownership is ever “indefinite.”

          “-this is the real kicker, gets to keep 75% of the profits if the house is ever sold despite the fact that they only put down 1% of the purchase price!!!”

          AFTER paying back the 25% loan, and a proportionate share of the profits, back to the taxpayers. It’s a balloon payment.

          • John Fontain

            “a loan for that amount that must be repaid to the taxpayers”

            Only if the participant sells the house or refinances their loan. Otherwise, the money is not repaid. And whether repaid or not, my statement is still true: the participant is getting a 25% downpayment paid by taxpayers.

            “Yes, except no ownership is ever “indefinite.”

            Thanks for agreeing. And indefinite means undetermined, not forever.

            “AFTER paying back the 25% loan, and a proportionate share of the profits, back to the taxpayers. It’s a balloon payment.”

            Your sentence doesn’t refute my point, which is that the participant gets the lions share of the profits in return for taking on almost none of the risk. This doesn’t make any sense.

          • drax

            “Only if the participant sells the house or refinances their loan. Otherwise, the money is not repaid.”

            But that’s not unusual. It’s just a loan due when the asset is sold instead of a mortgage. Not that big a deal. Most homes are sold within seven years of purchase or something like that. The county can probably sell the loan if it wants the cash fast.

            “Your sentence doesn’t refute my point, which is that the participant gets the lions share of the profits in return for taking on almost none of the risk. This doesn’t make any sense.”

            The buyer paid for 75% of the house, so he gets 75% of the profit.

          • John Fontain

            “But that’s not unusual.”

            Sorry, but a “loan” without a stated repayment term is not usual.

            “The buyer paid for 75% of the house, so he gets 75% of the profit.”

            Suppose a participant “buys” a $350,000 house with this program and puts down the 1% minimum ($3,500). The County puts down 25% ($87,500).

            Ten years later, the participant sells the house for $450,000 (an annual appreciation of just over 2%). During the period of ownership prior to resale, the participant will have paid approximately $57,000 in principle based on a 30-yr fixed @ 4%. So in total, the participant will have paid for $60,500 of the house ($57,000 plus the $3,500 down payment) and Arlington County will have paid $87,500 (more if you include the opportunity cost of a 0% loan).

            For her $60,500 investment (only 17% of the total cost of the house), the participant gets a $75,000 profit.
            For Arlington County’s $87,500 zero coupon investment, the County gets a $25,000 profit.

            And the numbers look even more favorable for the participants the shorter the duration of their ownership.

          • Josh S

            Yes. You have accurately described the program.
            And?

          • drax

            It’s not unusual. It’s just a standard loan, rather than a mortgage. Some mortgages have partial payoffs followed by a lump sum balloon payment at the end, which is similar.

            As for your example, at the sale, the county invested 25% and gets 25% of the profits. The county gets $25,000 AND the $87,500 paid back. Why should the county care what the seller gets? It’s not an investment program.

          • John Fontain

            josh s said: “You have accurately described the program. And?”

            I’m not sure which is worse, pretending to not understand or really not understanding.

    • Captain_Obvious

      what is considered low to moderate income by Arlington county ?

      • John Fontain

        For this program…

        Household Size – Maximum Household Income
        1 $60,240
        2 $68,800
        3 $77,440
        4 $86,000
        5 $92,880
        6 $99,760
        7 $106,640
        8 $113,520

        • Captain_Obvious

          that’s ridiculous, if your household is bringing in 6 figures, you should not be able to participate in this program. A 6-figure income should be able to afford a 350K home.

          • Josh S

            Walk a mile in the shoes of a person with an 7 or 8-member household and then get back to us. I suspect expenses are a wee bit higher than you might be thinking of.

          • Captain_Obvious

            ok, now you’re talking about a small percentage of households that have 7-8 members…

          • Yeppers

            A six figure income with 6 or 7 kids would certainly not be able to easily afford to live in Arlington without some assistance. And frankly, I highly doubt there are many applicants with that many kids. Most are likely with 0 – 3 kids. So you are likely looking at incomes between about $60k and $86k. That is not a lot. I live in a household with two adults no kids, each of whom earns more individually than the $113,520 max for this program, which would be a family with 7 kids. And BTW, I do not at all mind having a portion of my taxes go to help these individuals (just as I don’t mind supporting our school system even though we will never have kids). Its called civic responsibility. A good society is not based on “everyone for themselves” thinking. On the the other hand, perhaps they don’t teach civics in school anymore and that’s why so many have difficulty with the concept?

          • Captain_Obvious

            right, you just made my point. Most applicants are likely with 0-3 kids. We can’t guess their likely incomes, just go by the table. And why do they have to live in Arlington ? When I got my first job here, which was low-paying, I lived where I could afford, not where I wanted to.

          • Josh S

            I think you may be misunderstanding the table.
            The maximum income allowable for this program varies by how big your household is. If you only have 3 people in your household and you make more than $77K a year, you are not eligible.
            So the vast majority of people making six figures are not eligible for this program. Only those with household sizes of 7 or 8 and then only up to $106K or $113K, respectively.
            PS, these numbers are specific to Arlington, probably to the DC Metro area. A similar program in Tuscaloosa would have much lower numbers…..

          • Son of a Teacher

            But the income levels for smaller families are acceptible? We’re a family of 5 and definitely notice our paychecks not going as far as they did when we had 0, 1, 2 & then 3 kids. It’s obvious to me that kids aren’t cheap. If my aging mother-in-law moves in with us, then we’ll be a family of 6.

          • Captain_Obvious

            Does the county consider that the households with 7-8 people may also have supplemental income that goes undocumented ??

          • South Awwlington

            If you are the sole bread winner in 7-8 person family:

            Send your spouse to work.
            Wear a condom.

            Easy.

          • Son of a Teacher

            Most Catholics don’t wear condoms nor do they have abortions. Same goes for a lot of other people that are interested in this program.

            For the majority of people this program is aimed at, it is cheaper for a spouse to stay home and raise the kids vs putting them in day care and having them work. If they could find work that was the other way around they probably wouldn’t qualify for this program.

            When we were a family of 2 it was much easier to have undocumented supplemental income. Now, I don’t have the time.

            You should put that on a t-shirt and wear it around “South Awwlington”.

          • Captain_Obvious

            @son of a teacher: So if the income of your family of 2 qualified for this program, but your undocumented supplemental income put you over that threshold, would you accept the money from the program ?

          • dk (not DK)

            It may surprise you to learn that wearing a condom doesn’t help solve the problem of how to feed, clothe, and shelter the children you already have.

          • Son of a Teacher

            Heck yeah, as would most people. Why do people have undocumented income, at any documented income level? To cheat the system, no?

          • Josh S

            I don’t know, Capt, does the IRS consider that certain high income households may be using undocumented tax shelters or undocumented exemptions to reduce their tax burden?

          • Captain_Obvious

            @ son of a…of course you would, as would anyone. In doing so, you take away from someone who really needs the $. Now where’s the compassion ? Newsflash, if you do have undocumented income, that is cheating the system and the IRS would nail you, if caught.

            @ josh s…what does that have to do with anything in this comment section ?

          • drax

            Catholics still make choices.

            Can I have 20 kids and expect free stuff? How about 30 kids?

          • Son of a Teacher

            Fraud is fraud at any level, as Josh S points out, and affects us all to some degree. Doesn’t matter if it is individuals and families or major corporations skirting the tax laws. Maybe if everyone in Arlington declared their supplemental income maybe we could expand this program to more families – or eliminate it?

            Of course, everyone makes choices, and everyone is influenced in what choice to make. Sure, you can have 20, 30, or 0 kids and expect free stuff. Just don’t make more than $60k/yr for an Arlington County Board approved property. “Some properties are subject to federal requirements that keep the maximum income levels lower than the County levels listed below.” Wish we could all screw the feds requirements regarding marijuana too like our dope smoking CB does.

            And the maximum loan amount is $90K with a maximum purchase price of $360K?

            Thankfully I’m more interested in Adam’s “What can you buy with a $250K income?” thread, and luckily I bought 10 years ago.

            And I won’t get caught for any undocumented income…I don’t have any.

        • nom de guerre

          What’s more ridiculous-”Current employment or residency in Arlington is not required to qualify for MIPAP”
          Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

          • Captain_Obvious

            I saw that too; I assume it’s for people moving into Arlington.

          • Demographic Police

            It’s to move a certain demographic into Arlington…or to release guilt over success.`

  • Ted

    Received an ad in the mail from a bank yesterday offering fixed rate mortgages at 2.75%.

    • Greg

      That’s a 15 year. If these folks can’t afford a down payment, they likely can’t afford a 15 year mortgage. Monthly payments are 50% or so higher than a 30 year.

      • ted

        2.75% is 2.75%.

  • South Awwlington

    I noticed “Ask Adam” is on today.

    Let’s ask him the following:

    What are the true costs (if any) to a neighborhood when an Affordable Housing program moves in or expands.

    What is the logic behind pushing someone into a property (via local govt loans) which they can not afford and will default on later? We all get it if there is a work or live requirement to apply, but Arlington has no such rule. Such programs are not only aimed at County employees (whom no one would challenge).

    What are the benefits?
    What are the costs?

    • John Fontain

      Although only marginal, programs like this have the unintended effect of increasing house prices because the “free down payments” allow otherwise unqualified buyers to buy, thus increasing demand for the purchase of housing.

      So the end result is that these programs actually make it harder for all of the rest of the lower income people who weren’t selected for the program to afford a house.

      Here is the copy from the PSA:
      Arlington County: Making it harder for most lower income people to afford a house.
      The more you know.

      • CW

        I agree. I fall somewhat generally on the side of supporting low-income rental housing, but this purchase assistance is just too much. There are plenty of white-collar two-income households that can’t really afford a place. Like, pretty much everybody who rents. Not saying they got there 100% on their own so the govt shouldn’t help anybody out, but this just doesn’t make sense.

        A better long-term solution would be for the County to embrace policies which allow SUPPLY to come more in line with what the layout of the county looks like – i.e. more density. I mentioned on a thread a couple months ago that small-footprint rowhouse development would be ideal for many of the young buyers in the area, and I got some snarky response that the zoning wouldn’t allow it. Well, isn’t this a problem that can be fixed?

        Point being, the County should embrace a higher-level strategy rather than just a case-by-case handout program.

        • drax

          Yes – supply, and quality of housing (high-density is generally cheaper). That’s something the county is already doing.

      • Josh S

        Care to back up your assertion with any facts? Can you point to any jurisdiction in the nation with a similar program that has seen home prices go up because of the program?
        In our case, we see here that the program is limited to 10-15 families. There is no way that ten to fifteen home purchases will change home prices in Arlington. Especially since it’s not as if anyone is forcing the owners of those properties to sell. If they are on the market, they will be bought, whether it is by beneficiaries of the county’s program or someone else.

        • John Fontain

          “Can you point to any jurisdiction in the nation with a similar program that has seen home prices go up because of the program?”

          I’ll admit I haven’t done a study on this. My intuition tells me that more demand causes higher prices, all other factors being held constant. If you disagree, I’m happy to hear why.

          “There is no way that ten to fifteen home purchases will change home prices in Arlington.”

          I agree, that’s why I prefaced my post with “Although only marginal,…”.

          “If they are on the market, they will be bought, whether it is by beneficiaries of the county’s program or someone else.”

          Right, and if this program allows additional buyers to “afford” a given house, there will presumably be more competition for the house, and more demand leads to a higher sale price for the transaction. Then the “comp” for that transaction plays a significant role in the pricing and ultimate sales price of the next comparable home to come on the market, and so forth and so on.

          • drax

            John, I commend you for coming right out and saying it’s just intuition. Nothing wrong with that – you’d expect demand to drive prices up.

            However, we’re talking about 10 to 15 homes here, all with prices below $360k. Not a big price driver.

    • drax

      Adam is smart enough not to touch that question with a 10-foot pole either.

    • Josh S

      “What are the true costs (if any) to a neighborhood when an Affordable Housing program moves in or expands.”

      Gosh, that’s some interesting language you got there…..”There goes the neighborhood”???

      • South Awwlington

        gee golly Josh, if you would slow down and read the comments rather than making as many of them as possible, you would realize I posed the question to a qualified professional- in this market no less. He should be able to answer the question with some degree of certainty and with data to back it up…either way. I was an open-ended question seeking an honest response.

        • Josh S

          Yeah, perhaps I”m misreading the implications of your language choice, but it certainly sounds as if there might be some hidden biases coming into play. I haven’t ever heard of people talking about “costs to a neighborhood” when an “Affordable Housing program moves in.” An affordable housing program doesn’t “move in.” People do.

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