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What’s Next: Expanding homeownership stock

What’s Next with Nicole is a biweekly opinion column. The views expressed are solely the author’s.

Homeownership is one of the fundamental pillars of building wealth in the American economy.

In Arlington about 60% of our housing stock is renter occupied and new housing stock is almost all in rental housing development, with almost no new development of ownership housing stock.

The Missing Middle housing initiative has the opportunity to provide expanded home ownership stock. The current Missing Middle draft lacks intentionality around homeownership and even pushes back against the concept. My hope is that this changes in future drafts.

Arlington has the highest median home sale price in the D.C. metro region from 2020:

  1. Arlington: $670,000
  2. D.C.: $630,000
  3. Alexandria: $600,000
  4. Fairfax: $575,000
  5. Montgomery County: $483,000
  6. Prince George’s County: $345,000

When the topic of homeownership was requested during multiple public meetings, it was largely shutdown as illegal based on “discrimination by tenure.” This is a term I have been unable to find in any fair housing laws and contrary to the fact that Arlington County is currently discussing dedicated home ownership exclusive units on Columbia Pike right now.

Homeownership is important for millennials, people aged 25-40, who are in their prime home-buying years and dominate the U.S. workforce. Millennials hold just 4.6% of U.S. wealth and have 56 million in the workforce, whereas Boomers are 10 times wealthier and hold 53% of U.S. wealth and have 41 million in the workforce.

When Boomers were in the current age-range for millennials, they held 21% of U.S. wealth or four times what millennials hold today. Since homeownership is a key to wealth building, this gap in purchasing opportunities is fundamental for the economic outlook of future generations.

We know that Missing Middle-type housing, when available for purchase, is lower-cost than single-family homes, while this rental type is not necessarily more affordable. For example, in 2021 average assessed value of homes were:

  1. Single-family detached: $1,000,300
  2. Attached townhouse: $846,800
  3. Condo townhouse: $686,800
  4. Multi-unit condos: $447,700
  5. Cooperatives: $158,400

Additionally, if we are planning to reduce ownership housing stock in single-family houses, we should have a plan to replace it with ownership housing. We have plans to produce thousands of additional rental units throughout the county and no plan for additional ownership opportunities, and the Missing Middle Housing initiative should be exactly where we seek to do so.

Nicole Merlene is an Arlington native and former candidate for Virginia State Senate. She has served as a leader in the community on the boards of the Arlington County Civic Federation and North Rosslyn Civic Association, as an Arlington Economic Development commissioner, in neighborhood transportation planning groups, and as a civic liaison to the Rosslyn Business Improvement District.

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It is the decision of the United States Department of Defense (DoD) Washington Headquarters Services (WHS) to implement the Proposed Action: the 2024 Pentagon Reservation Master Plan Update (Pentagon Master Plan) as the framework to guide future decisions regarding land use and infrastructure at the Pentagon site and Mark Center. The Pentagon Master Plan aims to provide an update to the existing conditions at the Pentagon and Mark Center and presents projects and revisions to land use categorizations that will address the specific needs to reduce the Pentagon’s environmental impacts and advance sustainability, security, and resilience. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review has been completed through preparation of a Final Environmental Assessment (EA) to evaluate environmental impacts arising from implementation of the projects. WHS has concluded that no significant impacts to the human or natural environment will result from implementation of any projects, and recognized negative effects will be reduced by adherence to standard best management practices, applicable permit and consultation conditions, and standard operating procedures. This decision is further documented in the Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) signed on March 20, 2024.

This notice announces the availability of the FONSI to implement the 2024 Pentagon Reservation Master Plan Update.

For further information and to request a copy of the Final EA or FONSI, please contact Brian King, Environmental and Sustainability Program Manager, WHS/Facilities Services Directorate/Standards and Compliance Division/Environmental and Sustainability Branch; (703-614-3658 or [email protected]). Please include “Pentagon Master Plan Final EA and FONSI” in the subject line.

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The 3rd Annual Arlington Fair Housing Conference will feature Thomas Silverstein, renowned Fair Housing expert and Associate Director of the Fair Housing & Community Development Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

Come hear the latest news about fair housing enforcement, policy, and programs within Arlington County, Virginia, and across the country! Our expert panelists and guest speakers include fair housing advocates, elected officials, and government officials tasked with advancing housing equity at the local, state, and federal level.

Arlington has made substantial strides in advancing housing equity and improving fair housing policy with the adoption of the Regional Fair Housing Plan in 2023. Come learn what’s next to fight housing discrimination, incorporate equity for marginalized populations in our housing policies and programs, and increase awareness of fair housing rights under state and federal law.

We’ll have updates from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing federal rule, a panel discussion of fair housing progress at the General Assembly and across Virginia, and a panel of local experts discussing the progress Arlington has made and what remains to be done.
Please RSVP in advance to ensure you receive your free lunch at the conference. Free and open to the public.

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