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Board Approves $4 Million for Affordable Housing Purchase

by ARLnow.com May 16, 2011 at 2:32 pm 4,299 59 Comments

The Arlington County Board on Saturday approved a $4 million loan that will help a local non-profit purchase a 134-unit affordable apartment complex.

The Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH) plans to use the loan to help purchase the Marbella Apartments (1301 N. Queen Street) in the Radnor/Ft. Myer Heights neighborhood.  APAH is in the process of securing about $10 million from the Virginia Housing Development Authority to complete the $13 million purchase.

The Marbella Apartments include 120 existing committed affordable units, but the restrictions that keep the units affordable are set to expire in 2018. With its purchase, APAH will keep the units affordable for at least another 60 years, and will convert the complex’s 14 market rate units to committed affordable units.

The complex was built on 3.5 acres of land in 1947. It was renovated by its current owner, the Silverwood Companies, between 1998 and 1999. APAH will not undertake any further remodeling for a minimum of 10 years, but may choose to build additional apartments on the property down the road.

“Current zoning allows for 78 additional affordable units, creating a future land banking opportunity,” APAH said in an information sheet about its planned purchase.

See more information on Arlington County’s web site.

  • Thes

    Sounds like great news…

    • Kemon Aacho


  • ClizzleDizzle

    AH is market distorting, unfair and a waste of tax payers money. Yuk.

    • Josh S

      Market distorting? Well, first – so what? Why should we care? Second, what about the tax deduction for mortgage interest? Isn’t that also market distorting? Would you care to give it up? Third? Where, exactly, does an actual “free” market exist?
      Unfair? To whom? In what way? What would “fair” look like, in your version of reality? Is it unfair to those who have the financial resources to allow them to pay market rate? So, we care more about “fairness” to the wealthy than we do about the well-being of those less fortunate?
      A waste of money? What about those tax payers who will reside in the affordable units? What if you experienced some bad luck and all of a sudden needed affordable housing? Would it be a waste then?

      Also, yuck is spelled with a c.

      • mickey644

        Josh is right. Let’s put some more non taxpayers in the wagon for the rest of us to pull along. Over 50% pay NO taxes already, let’s add to that. I remember when my taxes were almost 60% of what I made with medicare, the 10% surcharge, etc. So I got smart and quit work. Now Josh and his friends get to buy my beer and subsidize my house, pay for my utilities and welfare and food stamps! I have a MUCH better life now that I can make more babies and grandbabies and my children can do the same. I want Josh and his friends to join the union too so they can make MORE money to pay more taxes to pay for my families beer and food and chips and TV’s and such.

        • dynaroo

          It’s so awesome being homeless and poor! So many people are doing it these days, just to avoid the hazards of having a home, good food, nice stuff, etc!

          Oh, in other ridiculous absurd claims – one can join a union without a job, and you paid 60% of your income in taxes.

    • Guest McGuest

      Nice of Mr. Potter to check in.

  • Whitney Wilson

    Are the current tenants in the “market rate units” going to get thrown out when they are converted to “affordable units?” I

    • Whitney Wilson

      This should teach me to read the links:

      “APAH will commit the 14 market units as income restricted units at the 80 percent of Area Mean Income (AMI) level without displacing current residents. As attrition occurs and households qualify, APAH will deepen the subsidy on these units to the 60 percent of AMI level. The units will remain affordable for 60 years.”

      I’m glad that current residents will not be involuntarily displaced.

      • PhilL

        Unlike what is going to happen at Howard Manor.

        • Whitney Wilson

          That’s what made me think of it.

  • PhilL

    I wonder what those units will look like when they are 120 years old.

    • NPGMBR

      I was kinda wondering the same thing. If the units remain affordable, I’m GUESSING that repairs to an aging building will increase over time. If thats the case where will APAH get the funds to address maintenance? Will they ask tax payers for assistance or will they be forced to sell the building?

    • MadRose

      You’re 120 years old

  • ArlLiver4

    It’s unfair to those who rent and pay “market” price.

    • dynaroo

      I suppose you think it’s unfair when people get free food at food banks and stuff like that.

      • Jim

        it doesn’t distort the market when you give away free food… but it definitely, negatively distorts the market when people don’t pay ‘market’ price for housing. take an econ course.

        • dynaroo

          Depends on what you mean by “negative.”

    • AllenB

      By that reasoning, any aid to the poorer among us is unfair. I pay for my health care through my employer, so Medicaid is unfair. I make a decent living, so food stamps and other public assistance is unfair.

      See where that gets you?

      • dynaroo

        It’s so unfair that other people are poor.

        This is kinda like when the Wall Street Journal called people who pay no taxes–because they’re poor–“lucky ducks.”

  • John

    Buildings should house a mix of affordable and market rate apartments. Isolating people according socio-economic status/ income levels does not exactly create diverse, healthy neighborhoods. At least this will help keep the gerrymandered Yorktown HS boundary relevant.

    • dynaroo

      That’s true. Many new housing projects are required to include affordables in the mix. Unfortunately, we’re dealing with alot of existing housing stock that doesn’t have that potential.

      • South Arlington Ready

        Arlington Mill isn’t existing and it is now being built as 100% affordable. Where’s the health in that?

        • dynaroo

          Arlington Mill is a different animal. It’s a county project, not a private one aimed at market rent-payers.

          • PhilL

            Not really. They are leasing their land to a developer who will finance, build, and manage the affordable units.

            The county is building the community center, not the rental units.

          • dynaroo

            My point is that the county is initiating the development, for a public purpose, on public land. It’s entirely different from requiring a few affordable units in a private development.

          • South Arlington Ready

            The point is a mixed income is more desirable and more “healthy” than one solely at affordable rates. Ownership shouldn’t matter, we’re talking about the occupants.

      • Josh S

        I’d hardly say “many.” In fact, in Arlington, it’s “very few.” Complaining about affordable housing in Arlington is a bit like the princess and the pea. It’s a drop in the bucket and hardly noticeable.

  • charlie

    that is a good price —- 100k/unit. what are the Views at Clarendon subsidizied at in comparison?

    • Bob

      Ask the neighbors who launched four rounds of lawsuits against Views, inflating the costs through legal defense fees as well as development delays. The lawsuits nearly destroyed the project by simply delaying it until it became too costly. Very canny strategy on the part of a well-heeled set of households.

      • John

        The Views is a poorly designed project. They should have demolished the sanctuary (which is not that historic due to alterations) and built and designed the project from scratch. The church steeple as dwarfed by the building behind it looks terrible.

      • KalashniKEV

        Hey, it’s better to spend a little now than be forced to live and raise a family next to a housing project. And why would poor people even want to live there anyway? Can they afford to be wasting money on abbey style ales?

  • MC

    There are several subsidies going on here. First, the County is lending money at the same time it has to borrow money to pay for other things. More importantly, it is foregoing decades of future tax revenue by preventing the land to be valued at market rates, and they are therefore not collecting the fair share of tax revenues that should be associated with these properties, making the rates of other property holders artificially inflated.

    Encouraging people to live in areas they can not afford to because they do not have the education or employment skills to earn enough to pay market housing rates results in unemployment or under-employment, creating even more fiscal pressures — Jay Forrester at MIT showed this over 40 years ago.

    • Marge

      Let us not forget the owner of the property, who will soon benefit from the sale that is underwritten with money (our money) courtesy of the board’s decision.

      Oh yeah, the owner also is one of the top contributor’s to a board member’s current campaign.

      • G

        I’m pretty sure most, if not all of the affordable housing money comes from developers, not our taxes.

    • South Arlington Ready

      I never thought the Arlington County board would be vulnerable to seeing a Republican on it but the way the current board operates would make the most true blue Democrat vote red.

      • dem

        I’m far from a hard-core liberal, but it would take ALOT more to make me even consider a Republican.

      • TuesdaysChild

        Well first there needs to be a good republican candidate for people to vote for. My guess is that anyone good would not have the patience to be in a permanent minority on the County Board.

    • Josh S

      I’m questioning whether a 40 year old economics study is still relevant. Assuming it ever was.

  • nota gain

    why subsidize housing for those who can not afford to live in this area. Arlington lets them pay less or no taxes on their incomes which are probably doles from the county. Arlington is getting to be like that place across the Potomac in many ways. Does one have to live in Arlington to get one of these affordable places or can anyone in the area get them? There was an article in the Sunday’s Post regarding a dc resident who has been looking for affordable housing for years. Maybe he will see this information. There is allot of affordable housing in the county that is not helping the county and making others pay more than they should.

    • V Dizzle

      Do you think people that can afford 60% or 80% of market in my neighborhood are not paying taxes? It’s still far above what someone below the poverty line can afford. These units are well maintained but far from luxurious. These are working families that generally walk to the bus/metro, or own an old beat up car. These are not abusers of welfare.

      Also, is there an Arlington income tax? That’s new to me.

  • Hunkles

    The poor should move to DC or PWC

    • dynaroo

      Lets just build them shantytowns. We’d be better off like Johannesburg.

    • Here’s the ignorant statement of the day. Winner!

  • South Arlington Ready

    Market Distortion occurs when forces aside from market forces intercede and affect pricing. In simple terms…when I was a kid growing up, my parents would have loved to live closed to Washington and it’s culture and nightlife. They couldn’t. Instead they chose to live where THEY COULD afford to while raising three kids…without taxpayer subsidies. And by the way…yes, I am Democrat and have the card to prove it.

    • South Arlington Ready

      *closer*, *its* Damn typos.

      • South Arlington Ready

        Alexandria is looking more and more appealing.

        • dynaroo

          Yeah, Alexandria has no affordable housing. Right.

          • South Arlington Ready

            Never said that…but I will say that even in the “affordable” sections of Alexandria, and I am not talking about the “Village” in N. Old Town, rather West Alexandria, have more curb appeal than what we currently have on Columbia Pike and Four Mile Run. It’s an embarrassment to the county and to the people who take pride in their properties.

            I don’t expect improvements to happen over night, but I think Arlington is better than some of the blight we currently entertain.

    • dynaroo

      Yeah, right, they didn’t get a mortgage deduction or the many indirect subsidies of suburban development.

      • I would guess they CHOSE to own instead of rent. You see, while a mortgage may get you a deduction it also puts you on the hook to pay for maintenance. That’s something no renter has to pay for. I’m sick and tired of the renters moaning and groaning about the mortgage deduction. CHOOSE to buy if you think it is so great. Ha…I thought so. Why risk the economic downturn in your equity or have to pony up $20K for a new roof? Stop you moaning. There are benefs to both.

        • dynaroo

          The mortgage deduction doesn’t put you on the hook for anything. A mortgage does. The deduction is free money. And owing and investing in land “puts you on the hook” to maintain it anyway.

        • Josh S

          Yes, but would so many people CHOOSE to buy if they didn’t have the mortgage deduction? I’d say pretty clearly NO. So it’s clearly a market distortion.
          Again, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
          Also, what rental property owner decides to magnanimously pay for all maintenance him/herself? Without passing on the costs to the renter? I guess if you own one rental home and maybe you plan on moving into again at some point. But certainly for apartment buildings and other investor owners, they’re crazy if they’re not passing on these costs to the renter. Also, the security deposit is withheld if you do damage to the place while living there – maintenance.

  • Read my comment, it says a mortgage puts you on the hook.

    “..while a mortgage may get you a deduction it also puts you on the hook for maintenance.”

    You see, if you don’t maintain the property the bank can indeed take it from you to protect their investment in you.

    We are saying the same thing, you are just trying to hard to make a point.

    • dynaroo

      Sorry, read it wrong. Not trying too hard, just trying to figure out the relevance.

  • KalashniKEV

    “APAH will not undertake any further remodeling for a minimum of 10 years”

    Why not declare it some kind of historic sight like Colonial Village? Then it can remain an eyesore… FOREVER!!!

  • R0bespierre

    So where is the demographic proof which supports the need for a tax supported government to subsidize this kind of market tinkering for “socio-economic mixture?”

    Are poorer people more cool/hip? Is this going to bring us a better art crowd? WTF is the point, above and beyond allowing the bored and/or guilt-addled people involved with non profits to feel good about themselves?

    That’s the problem with fiscal democrats…they have some vague emotional basis for everything they believe, and then try to manufacture facts (rationalizations) afterward in order to support those beliefs.

  • Newcon

    Nothing more dangerous than a liberal county board with tax dollars to burn. They won’t fix the terrible roads and infrastructure in Arlington but they will certainly burn money on “affordable housing” to assuage their guilt. Its laugable the way the liberals that run the board play with social engineering, dropping homeless shelters amongst the half million dollar condos and “affordable housing” like The Views near some of the most valuable commercial real estate in virginia. Are they trying to wreck Arlington?


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