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County Board Candidates Address Affordable Housing

(Updated at 4:00 p.m.) The five Democratic candidates running in a special election for the open County Board seat have weighed in on affordable housing in Arlington. The candidates submitted their essays to the Alliance for Housing Solutions, which asked all to answer the same three questions.

In short, the questions asked what the county’s priority should be for affordable housing, how the county can meet its goal of increasing affordable housing and what actions should be taken to preserve or increase affordable housing.

Libby Garvey is one of the candidates citing the issue as a top priority. She says the county should be concerned about the loss of two-thirds of its affordable housing since 2000, and increasing the supply is crucial to Arlington.

“If we are to preserve Arlington as a diverse and vibrant community we need to have people from all income levels living and working here,” Garvey said. “This is an increasingly large and difficult challenge in a community like Arlington.”

Most of the candidates didn’t believe Arlington had met its goals for affordable housing. Melissa Bondi says missing the goal shows the need for a change in strategy.

“The best response is not to change the target – rather, it is to increase the variety of existing, expanded and new tools that will be needed to meet the needs of Arlington residents across the full housing continuum,” Bondi said.

Peter Fallon suggested that developers should do more in terms of supporting affordable housing in Arlington.

“For profit developers have not accepted the business case for constructing affordable housing,” Fallon said.

Fallon is among the candidates who supports incentivizing production of affordable housing so it is more attractive to developers. Kim Klinger also supports looking into financial incentives. Additionally, she believes the county should investigate more programs for using existing properties, as opposed to only building new ones.

“Our commitment to affordable housing may also include the use of tools that address housing rehabilitation programs, multi-family improvement programs, great house concepts, and adaptive reuse,” Klingler said.

In regards to preserving or increasing affordable housing, Terron Sims says Arlington County has existing tools that can be used to increase the affordable housing supply.

“It is ultimately a policy question that involves tax subsidies, expenditure of tax revenue and, possibly, zoning changes,” Sims said.

The full readout of candidate answers is available on the Alliance for Housing Solutions website.

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