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Housing Authority Referendum to Appear on Ballot

The Aurora Highlands polling station during a 2010 electionAdvocates have spent nearly six months attempting to gather enough signatures to secure a spot on the Arlington ballot for a measure supporting a government-run low income housing authority. County election officials now confirm that the group submitted the required 2,845 signatures needed to place a referendum on the November 5 ballot.

The referendum will ask Arlington voters to authorize the operation of a low income housing authority, similar to those in more than 25 cities and counties around the state including Alexandria and Fairfax County. The Arlington Green Party (AGP) spearheaded the signature gathering efforts.

“Arlington’s current housing assistance program has failed to stop the loss of affordable housing, and a housing authority would raise funds more easily, lower administrative costs, and provide more affordable rental units,” said AGP chairman Steve Davis. “Arlington should follow Fairfax’s County’s outstanding example with a housing authority that provides more affordable housing to more people at less cost.”

Arlington had the most expensive rental housing in 2010, except for Alexandria, according to Davis. He said more than 14,000 families in Arlington needed affordable housing that year.

Advocates for a housing authority claim the agency would help the county secure federal housing funds. They also contend it would reduce the county’s costs by consolidating all housing functions under one umbrella agency.

The signatures will be presented to the County Board, which is expected to take up the measure at its July meeting, confirmed Arlington County General Registrar Linda Lindberg. According to a state statute, the Board is required to pass the measure on to Circuit Court Chief Judge William Newman, who has the ultimate authority to put it on the ballot.

Lindberg notes that this is the third time such a measure has been put on the ballot and it has been defeated each time. Most recently, voters rejected the measure in 2008 by a 2-1 margin.

So far this is the only referendum scheduled to appear on the November 5 general election ballot. The deadline for other referenda to make it onto the ballot is August 16.

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