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As Amazon Rumors Intensify, Advocates Worry Arlington Won’t Press for Affordable Housing Help

As all signs continue to suggest that Crystal City will soon become home to at least half of Amazon’s new headquarters, affordable housing advocates are increasingly concerned that Arlington won’t force the tech giant to take action to mitigate the new office’s impact on housing prices in the county.

The company’s abrupt decision to split its “HQ2” between Crystal City and New York City, as detailed in a flurry of national news reports, means that Arlington could see only half of the 50,000 new jobs Amazon promised along with the new headquarters. Nevertheless, fears linger that the arrival of even a portion of those workers would further squeeze the county’s already tight housing market.

County and state officials have steadfastly refused to release any details about their pitch to Amazon, including details on potential economic incentives for the company, or any community benefits designed to account for how a sudden influx of thousands of workers might drive up housing prices and demand.

Amazon has also been mum on how it might set up shop in Crystal City, but speculation abounds that the company would move into the thousands of square feet of vacant office space controlled by JBG Smith, the area’s largest property owner. The real estate firm was intimately involved in assembling Crystal City’s HQ2 bid, and Arlington officials have salivated over the prospect that the company could reverse the county’s high office vacancy rate in one fell swoop.

But should Jeff Bezos and company move right in to that vacant space, experts worry that the county won’t have the ability to extract any cash for Arlington’s main tool for spurring the development of reasonably priced homes: the Affordable Housing Investment Fund, commonly known as the AHIF.

The program offers low-interest loans for new construction or redevelopment efforts to add more affordable housing in the county, and the county regularly requires developers behind high-density projects to contribute to the fund, in order to offset the impacts of that development on the rest of the county.

Yet Michelle Winters, the executive director of the Alliance for Housing Solutions, points out that Amazon could well avoid any such contribution, despite bringing thousands of highly paid workers to the area. After all, the company may simply prove to be a very, very large office tenant, and not plan any new construction in the county for years yet.

“These fees are a major component of how we pay for affordable housing in Arlington,” Winters told ARLnow. “But we just don’t know what kind of deal they’re potentially making with Amazon.”

Through a spokeswoman, Arlington Housing Director David Cristeal confirmed that the “county does not require AHIF contributions if a tenant moves into existing space without building anything new.”

“A developer or building lessee would not need to contribute to AHIF if they move into an existing building without requesting additional density and/or a site plan amendment,” Cristeal wrote. Site plan amendments, in general, are reserved for major construction projects.

County Board Chair Katie Cristol agrees with Cristeal’s assessment, noting that the “mechanisms for achieving contributions to the AHIF are tools available to us during the land-use process” only.

“The time at which we’d achieve something like that is as the building is built, not as a tenant moves in, which makes sense,” Cristol said.

What that means for the county’s potential deal with Amazon, Cristol can’t say. She says the county still has yet to work out the details of just how the tech giant would move in to Arlington, making it a bit too early to speculate on technical questions like potential AHIF contributions.

However, she did point out that the whole point of Arlington luring Amazon in the first place is to generate new tax revenue, which the county could then direct into the AHIF or other measures to preserve and create affordable housing.

“The reason to bring in new tenants to Arlington generally is they fund all those things,” Cristol said. “Whether it’s the AHIF, housing grants, public schools, transportation costs… It can be easy to lose sight of that.”

Of course, there are plenty of experts skeptical of just how much Amazon’s arrival will actually juice county revenues, especially if Arlington signs off on hefty tax breaks to lure the company here in the first place. For instance, the government accountability group Good Jobs First, an intense Amazon critic, estimates that localities can end up paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in subsidies for each job that a major new investor generates.

Kasia Tarczynska, a research analyst with Good Jobs First, notes that the county could always limit the tax breaks it offers the company and “use that money for affordable housing, public transit and workforce development.”

“In Boston, for example, as part of the incentive package, the city said it would invest $75 million in affordable housing, instead [of] giving that money to Amazon,” Tarczynska wrote in an email.

But that’s where the county’s secrecy around its offer to the company, which has been criticized by liberal and conservative activists alike, stymies further analysis.

Even still, Winters and Tarczynska both expect that the county could still work out a deal with Amazon that involves a contribution to the AHIF, or other affordable housing measures, even if it wouldn’t be strictly required by county ordinances.

“If I were Amazon, I would pay in more than what would ordinarily be required, because their own workers would benefit from more affordable housing in the community,” Winters said. “This is one of the biggest companies in the world… I’d imagine it could be considered the cost of doing business for them.”

Ben Beach, the legal director for the Partnership for Working Families, notes that plenty of other local officials have negotiated for such concessions as large companies have sought to move in to their communities. The question on his mind is whether Arlington officials will do the same.

“Local governments have a wide range of tools at their disposal; the question is simply political will,” Beach wrote in an email. “And in this case, we know there is substantial public money involved, so there’s really no excuse for anything less than a gold standard community benefits package.”

Photo via JBG Smith

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Morning Notes

Effort Returns $68K to Arlington Residents — Staff from the Virginia Dept. of the Treasury were on hand at county government headquarters in Courthouse earlier this month to encourage those coming to pay their local taxes at the deadline to see if they have any unclaimed cash or property being held by the state. In all, the officials were able to return about $68,000 to people who stopped by. [InsideNova]

Population Growth Outstripping New Housing — A potential major worry should Amazon bring its HQ2 to the D.C. area is what it will do to the cost of housing. The region has fallen significantly short of housing production since 2010, according to a new report: “While the inner region’s population increased 7 percent, the number of housing units increased only 3 percent.” [Urban Institute]

County Defends Using Bonds for Artificial Turf — Despite suggestions otherwise, Arlington County Board members said Saturday that the county only uses bonds to fund artificial turf project when the lifespan of the bond equals or is less than the expected lifespan of the turf. [InsideNova]

Signature Partners with Yale — “[Signature Theatre] announced Monday a pioneering partnership to bolster musical-theater writing talent at the college level — a fairly underdeveloped avenue for professional American theaters. With financial backing from longtime Signature supporters Ted and Mary Jo Shen… Signature will produce one graduating Yale senior’s musical-in-progress annually in a three-week workshop, beginning next summer.” [Washington Post]

Mea Culpa — Yesterday, ARLnow sent a promotional email for a townhouse community with the pithy subject line, “So many reasons to move to Chantilly, VA.” While we didn’t get any complaints, this subject line does not reflect our commitment to serving the Arlington community and sending it as-is was a mistake for which we apologize.

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Morning Notes

Major Crystal City Development Approved — “The Arlington County Board today approved a two-phase plan to redevelop a portion of Crystal Square, in the heart of Crystal City. The project will add 100,000 square feet of street-oriented retail businesses, including a new Alamo Drafthouse movie theater and a grocery store, to Crystal Drive, and upgrade an existing office building to ‘Class A’ office space.” [Arlington County]

Sunflower Restaurant Closed in Falls Church — Vegetarian restaurant Sunflower recently closed its location in Seven Corners. In its place, Bawadi Mediterranean restaurant has opened. Meanwhile, Sunflower has a location in Vienna that remains open. [Twitter]

HUD Grant to House Low-Income Arlingtonians — “The nearly $464,000 HUD Housing Choice Mainstream Voucher Grant is a specialized voucher program that will help non-elderly persons with disabilities who are transitioning out of institutional settings, at risk of institutionalization, homeless, or at risk of being homeless, rent housing in Arlington. The County’s Department of Human Services expects 40 Arlington residents to will be housed through the grant.” [Arlington County]

Another Arlington Money Diary — Another Arlington resident is the subject of a Refinery29 “money diary.” The latest profile subject is “an administrative assistant working in law who makes $57,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on candles for her daughter’s birthday cupcakes.” [Refinery29]

GW Unveils New Clubhouse at Barcroft Park — “[GW] Baseball’s first on-site clubhouse was unveiled at Tucker Field Saturday after more than a year of renovations. The Fassnacht Clubhouse and Training Facility is a 6,200-square-foot space that includes a locker room, coaches’ offices, a players lounge and an indoor turf training space. Each player received a customized locker, and the existing batting cages at the field were also enclosed, according to an athletics department release.” [GW Hatchet]

Fall Foliage Mostly MIA in Va. — “By the final third of October, fiery colors of fall are usually all over the place in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. Not this year. While we are still at least a week or two from typical peak fall foliage in the immediate D.C. area, this year’s delay in autumn color is unlike anything in recent memory.” [Washington Post]

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Morning Notes

More Housing Coming to Pentagon City — Developer LCOR is working on plans for a new apartment building in Pentagon City, to be built on a site that currently houses a blocky, low-slung building containing Verizon telecommunications infrastructure. Arlington has seen “a rising demand for luxury rentals,” including at a recently-completed LCOR building in Crystal City. [Washington Business Journal, Washington Business Journal]

Woman Charged With Bringing Gun to DCA — “The TSA said an Arlington, Virginia, woman was stopped at a checkpoint at Reagan National Airport on Tuesday with a loaded 9 mm handgun in her carry-on bag. There were 14 bullets in the handgun, including one in the chamber. She was cited by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority police.” [WTOP]

New Pastor for Local Church — “St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church will host ‘A Celebration of New Ministry’ to salute the arrival of the church’s new rector, Rev. Dorota Pruski, on Sunday, Oct. 28 at 4 p.m. at the church, 4000 Lorcom Lane.” [InsideNova]

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County Board Contenders Split on How Much Cash to Send to Affordable Housing Loan Fund

There isn’t much daylight between the two contenders for County Board this fall on affordable housing issues in Arlington, but the pair is offering different answers on one key matter: how much money the county should chip in to encourage affordable development.

Independent incumbent John Vihstadt and Democratic challenger Matt de Ferranti have both stressed the importance of preserving affordable homes in Arlington as part of their respective campaigns, and both did so once more in responses to a questionnaire from the advocates at the Alliance for Housing Solutions, released yesterday (Wednesday).

Both candidates also offered many of the same solutions for preserving affordable housing, like an increased reliance on housing conservation districts to protect older buildings. But their biggest divergence in answering the group’s questions came on whether the county should increase its annual contribution to its Affordable Housing Investment Fund.

Commonly known as AHIF, the fund is a loan program aimed at encouraging developers to build affordable housing by offering low-interest loans for new construction or redevelopments. Though the fund also draws in some federal funding, tax revenue and developer contributions, the bulk of the cash comes courtesy of a county contribution set in each budget cycle.

The Alliance for Housing Solutions asked each candidate whether the county should increase that annual contribution, particularly as rent prices continue to climb and the potential arrival of Amazon looms. For his part, de Ferranti offered a clear “yes” to that query, arguing that the county needs to strive to create substantially more “committed affordable” units per year, or homes with lower, more stable rent prices.

“We should use AHIF to work to reach our goals, and at the very least should work to get from [creating] 280 [units per year] to a much higher number of units,” de Ferranti wrote. “I fully realize that in this tight budget environment, increasing funding to those levels will be very difficult, but I do not think the levels we have at the moment are sufficient to say that we are truly making a real effort to fulfill our goals.”

Vihstadt would not be so definitive as to say he didn’t want to see an increase in the county’s AHIF contribution, noting that he’d like to reduce Arlington’s office vacancy rate and use the additional tax revenue to increase AHIF funding. But he also made no specific commitment to a funding boost, stressing instead that he wants to “move an increasing portion of AHIF funding from one-time to ongoing [in the county budget] to provide a more predictable and reliable funding stream for affordable housing.”

“This will have the helpful byproduct of allowing us to better plan for new projects,” Vihstadt wrote.

Michelle Winters, the executive director of the AHS, says her group won’t be evaluating the candidates’ answers to these questions, but does point out that “moving funds from one-time to ongoing does not equate to having more funds for AHIF in the budget.”

“It just theoretically helps insulate the ‘ongoing’ portion from potential budget cuts in the future,” Winters told ARLnow. “For example, in [fiscal year 2019], the total AHIF allocation dropped from $15 million to $14.3 million, but the ‘ongoing’ or base portion of that amount was increased from $4.9 million to $6.7 million.”

That difference aside, however, both candidates agreed that the Board should find new funding sources for the AHIF to ensure the program gets the money it needs to succeed.

Vihstadt referenced the possibility of “increased dedicated recordation tax monies and even special purpose bonds” to send more cash to AHIF, or somehow taking advantage of the new “Opportunity Zone” designation created by the Republican tax reform bill last year, which is designed to lure investment to disadvantaged areas through tax breaks.

De Ferranti also raised the possibility of setting aside “dedicated funding for AHIF through a specific revenue stream,” as the “community could more clearly understand the investment in affordable housing” if the county makes clear how it’s funding the AHIF. Like Vihstadt, he also proposed funding the AHIF with a bond as part of the county’s Capital Improvement Plan, which is normally set aside to guide funding for large construction projects around Arlington.

“This would require considerable public engagement to achieve, but it is worth considering,” he wrote.

Photo via Facebook

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Morning Notes

Arlington Losing Big Office Tenant — “BAE Systems Inc. is moving its headquarters to Falls Church as part of a consolidation of its Northern Virginia office space… The move will also further ding Arlington County’s office vacancy rate, which at the end of 2017 was 20.6 percent.” [Washington Business Journal]

Hazmat Situation at Kaiser Permanente — Arlington County firefighters responded to a hazardous materials incident at Kaiser Permanente in Falls Church yesterday. Five people were evaluated by medics and, of them, two were transported to the hospital. [WJLA, Twitter, Twitter]

Red Top Development Groundbreaking Nears — “The Shooshan Co. has teamed up with Trammell Crow Residential on the first phase of its planned Red Top Cab site redevelopment in Clarendon, with groundbreaking slated for early next year. The partners closed Sept. 29 on their acquisition from The Red Top Cab Co. founder Neal Nichols of several parcels along Irving and Hudson streets for a listed consideration amount of nearly $28.2 million, according to Arlington County’s Recorder of Deeds.” [Washington Business Journal]

RIP Lance Newman and Tim Wise — Two notable Arlingtonians have died: “Tim Wise, the longtime president of the Arlington County Taxpayers Association, died Friday in Fredericksburg after a 10-month battle with cancer and heart trouble… Lance Newman, one of four black students who in February 1959 began attending a previously all-white middle school in Arlington… had died after a short illness.” [InsideNova]

ACSO Launches Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign — “Breast cancer hits close to home for the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office, which has launched a campaign to raise awareness about early detection and preventative care. Over the last six years, two employees at the county’s sheriff’s office have been diagnosed with breast cancer.” [WUSA 9]

Forum Planned to Discuss Accessory Dwellings — “A forum looking at current regulations related to accessory-dwelling units in Arlington will be held on Monday, Oct. 15 at 7 p.m. at Central Library. Speakers will discuss how changes made to the county’s housing ordinances in 2017 impact the regulatory process, and will look at whether further changes are needed.” [InsideNova]

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Without a Surge in Construction, Planners Warn of a Massive ‘Housing Shortfall’ Across D.C. Region

Arlington and the rest of the D.C. region could face a massive “housing shortfall” in the coming years without a surge in new construction, according to a new analysis by regional planners.

A study presented to the board of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments last Wednesday (Sept. 12) suggests that the region needs to add 100,000 more homes than are currently projected to be built between now and 2045.

Otherwise, planners expect the surge in workers moving to the region will drive up housing prices to even higher levels, imperiling the region’s economy and further driving workers out into increasingly distant suburbs.

“The projected gap — or housing ‘ shortfall’ — will only worsen without intervention,” MWCOG researchers wrote. “The region should continue to create and/or preserve housing at a higher rate than has been achieved in the recent past to close the gap and provide adequate housing options to be able to sustain strong regional economic growth.”

The researchers based that warning on population estimates for the region suggesting D.C. and its suburbs will see its employment base of 3.28 million jobs balloon to 4.27 million by 2045 — a forecast that only takes regional trends into consideration and doesn’t specifically account for the arrival of a tech giant like Amazon in the region. By contrast, the planners expect the D.C. metro area to see its housing stock rise by roughly half that amount, going from 2.08 million homes to 2.66 million.

Accordingly, they project that the region will need to add 690,000 new homes, rather than the 575,000 currently projected, in order to have a desirable ratio of workers to homes.

To reach that figure, the analysts expect that the region will need a “sustained housing production of 25,600 units each year” through 2045. The group noted that the region added about 23,500 new homes in 2017, and has persistently upped its housing production each year as the area’s recovered from the Great Recession.

Even still, the researchers note that in the early 2000s, the region was averaging nearly 30,000 new homes built each year, making such a boost feasible.

“Although we are on the right trajectory, it is possible to produce even more,” the analysts wrote.

The researchers urge leaders in Arlington and other localities with access to “high capacity transit stations” to take up such a challenge, particularly by identifying ‘planning and zoning tools and policies to ensure preservation of existing housing and production of new affordably priced units.”

“It is important to note again that this goal of increasing housing production by slightly more than 100,000 units is to ensure a sufficient supply of housing for workers to fill current and anticipated jobs,” the researchers wrote. “Although it will mostly address need from an economic competitiveness and transportation infrastructure standpoint, it will have broad significance for the future of our region and its residents.”

File photo. Chart via Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments

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Report: Arlington Boasts One of the ‘Healthiest’ Housing Markets in the Country

Arlington has one of the “healthiest” housing markets in the country thanks to a stable supply of affordable homes, according to a new study.

The financial research firm SmartAsset ranked the county first in Virginia and 24th in the nation in a new evaluation of the country’s largest housing markets.

Arlington earned those high marks based on four factors the firm considered in weighing whether homeowners can easily sell their homes with a low risk of losing money: stability, affordability, fluidity and risk of loss. SmartAsset found the county performed best when it came to demand for homes, based on how long the average house stayed on the market — Arlington homes are available for an average of 41.9 days, well below the national average of 52.5 days.

The firm also found that home costs tend to take up about 20.1 percent of the average Arlington homeowner’s income, a touch below the national average of 22 percent, which also helped the county score well in these rankings. However, Arlington’s high income levels surely impacted that statistic.

SmartAsset also determined that just 10.9 percent of county homeowners have negative equity on their homes, increasing the risk of foreclosure, another statistic below the national average.

Arlingtonians stay in their homes for an average of 11.3 years, below both the state and national averages, lending some fluidity to the market as well.

The one factor where the county scored poorly compared to some of its peers is the percentage of homes decreasing in value — 22.2 percent of Arlington’s homes are dropping in value at the moment, compared to 13.8 percent nationally.

Overall, SmartAsset ranked Buffalo, New York; Fremont, California; and Colorado Springs, Colorado as the top three healthiest markets nationwide.

File photo

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Real Estate Tax Break Program for Seniors Set to Change Next Year

(Updated at 1 p.m.) Some changes are on the way for Arlington’s real estate tax relief program for seniors, though officials declined pursue the sort of sweeping overhaul favored by some in the community.

The County Board approved a series of tweaks to the program’s eligibility criteria Saturday (July 14), in a bid to better realize the county’s goal of helping older Arlingtonians stay in their homes even as values, and associated tax bills, creep upward.

Starting next year, the program will be open to homeowners age 65 or older and people with disabilities, with an annual income of up to $99,472 and household assets — excluding the home itself — up to $400,000, a slight increase from the old $340,000 limit. The county is also now letting people apply for an exemption from 75 percent of their tax bill, when the program previously only let homeowners try for an exemption from their full bill, half of it or a quarter of it.

“This is important not just for a compassionate community, but a community that works,” said Board Vice Chair Christian Dorsey.

To make up for some of this expansion in eligibility, the newly revised program stipulates that the top earners eligible to apply for tax relief — households making anywhere from $80,000 to $99,472 per year — can only apply for deferrals on their tax bills, not exemptions. Yet even that change frustrated some in the county, who would’ve preferred to see the Board move to a deferral-only system instead.

“I absolutely cannot understand why we want to help out the heirs in Spokane of people who are receiving an exemption,” Dave Schutz, a local activist and ARLnow comment section veteran, told the Board.

Caitlin Hutchison, an assistant director in the county’s Department of Human Services, said staff and a working group convened on the issue considered such a policy change, but ultimately decided against it. She noted that the city of Hampton moved to a deferral-only system, only to change course after many homeowners with reverse mortgages “almost immediately received notice that foreclosure proceedings would initiate” when tax bills came due.

“I have no interest in protecting inheritances,” said Board Chair Katie Cristol. “I am concerned that folks can stay in their home without a notification of eviction or having to leave the county.”

Hutchison also noted that the program broadly does not serve the wealthiest Arlingtonians — 76 percent of households who applied for the program last year had an annual income of $60,000 or less, and total assets of $100,000 or less. Since the tax relief changes were first proposed, the Board also added new limits on the eligibility of owners of properties valued at $1 million or more.

But Kathryn Scruggs, a longtime affordable housing advocate and member of the working group discussing the issue, argued that the program needs an even more substantial makeover to serve solely homeowners with “low incomes, low asset levels and lower than average home values.”

“There is no justification for increasing the asset limit, that just diverts resources from the people who need it most,” Scruggs said.

The revised program is indeed likely to cost the county an extra $154,000 in tax revenue each year. But Hutchison argued that the asset limit changes will help homeowners keep pace with rising home values, and stay in the county longer.

The tweaks will also help Arlington keep pace with its neighbors, Hutchison said, as both Alexandria and Loudoun County have higher asset limits for similar programs.

And as the county struggles to manage a surge in its student population, Dorsey argued that it can only be a good thing for Arlington to keep older residents in their homes for as long as possible.

“Typically when seniors leave their homes, they’re not replaced by seniors,” Dorsey said. “The more we concentrate our housing stock on families with children, the more it creates pressures in other areas.”

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Morning Notes

Metro Leaders Square Off with Union Over Strike Threat — The transit service is still negotiating with its largest union to avert a strike, though details remain murky. Virginia’s Republican lawmakers in Richmond are urging Gov. Ralph Northam to ask a federal court to intervene to prevent any work stoppage. [Washington Post]

County Board Approves Incentives for DoD Tenant — Arlington officials agreed to spend $8 million over the next decade to keep the Office of Naval Research in a Ballston office building. [InsideNova]

Landscapers Spruce Up Arlington National Cemetery — Roughly 400 landscapers from the National Association of Landscape Professionals for Renewal and Remembrance donated their time to work on the cemetery Monday. [WTOP]

“Evictions in Arlington” Forum Set for Tonight — The county and its Tenant Landlord Commission is hosting a panel discussion the issue at 6:30 p.m. at the Department of Human Services building (2100 Washington Blvd). The conversation will center on “resources and gaps, opportunities and challenges” in preventing evictions. [Arlington County]

Flickr pool photo via wolfkann

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Dorsey: Stop Trying to ‘Protect Neighborhoods’ from Density

County Board Vice Chair Christian Dorsey is urging people around Arlington to embrace density in their communities and abandon the idea of “protecting” certain neighborhoods from development.

Without that sort of shift in mentality, Dorsey expects the county will never meet its stated goals of bringing down housing costs and making Arlington more accessible for people of all income levels.

“We have to look inward and look at ourselves and some of the things that are holding us back,” Dorsey told the audience at last month’s annual Leckey Forum put on by Arlington’s Alliance for Housing Solutions. “We can’t kid ourselves into thinking we can have it both ways, to tout our progressive bonafides with housing and affordability while also accepting the framework that certain neighborhoods need to be protected. Ask ourselves: protected from what?”

Dorsey would concede that he doesn’t want to “change in any way the notion that neighborhoods are for people who want to grow their families and stay in Arlington for generations.”

But he did challenge people in wealthier neighborhoods to consider that fighting against more dense development often amounts to “preserving a level of unaffordability and segregation” that already exists across the county.

“Often, you hear, ‘We want to mitigate density, we want to concentrate density in certain areas, we want density to be something that we don’t deal with,” Dorsey said. “If that’s our framework and our paradigm, we are losing a key tool to deal with affordability.”

In the past, some critics have charged that the county is facilitating the overdevelopment of affordable housing in places like the western end of Columbia Pike while exempting large swaths of affluent North Arlington from more affordable development.

Dorsey sees the constant churn of redevelopment of small, single-family homes into ever larger homes on the same property as helping to contribute to this problem, arguing that “the whole idea that we have one dwelling per lot and we allow for the increase in footprint on said lots, that absolutely factors into our affordability challenge.”

“It restricts housing supply and increases the pricing of housing on those parcels,” Dorsey said.

Dorsey acknowledges that forcing this sort of shift in attitudes won’t be easy, however, and he lamented that “the pursuit of effective public policies to achieve these outcomes are often thwarted by political considerations.”

Yet he also has hope that “these considerations… are not immutable,” and he believes people in the county will prove to be receptive to his arguments, if they’re framed correctly.

“What I hear as often as, ‘We want to protect our neighborhoods and mitigate density,’ is that ‘I want my neighborhood to be a place where I can interact with people of diverse backgrounds, I want my kids to go to school where they interact with people from diverse communities and diverse life experiences,'” Dorsey said. “We need to hold people to that, and engage them on those levels and expose them to tools to actually make that a reality.”

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Report: Arlington Will Add 24,000 New Homes Through 2040

Crystal City is set to add 5,300 homes over the next 20 years, leading the way among all of Arlington’s Metro corridors, according to county projections.

In all, the county will likely see a total of 24,000 new homes built between 2020 and 2040, according to the “Arlington Profile 2018” released by the county this spring.

County staff believe Crystal City will have a total of 9,500 housing units by 2020, up from 7,924 in 2010, and see that number jump to 14,800 by 2040. Should that happen, Crystal City will be the Arlington community with the most housing available, and that level of growth will far outpace its fellow Metro-accessible neighborhoods of Ballston and Rosslyn.

The county projects that Ballston will have 9,200 homes in total two years from now, placing it just behind Crystal City. But by 2040, Ballston will have 11,600 units in all, or 3,200 fewer homes than Crystal City.

By 2020, researchers expect Rosslyn will have 8,700 homes, but they project the neighborhood will surge into second place by 2040, with 12,700 homes in total.

Pentagon City will add the third-most homes over the next two decades, county staffers estimate, jumping from a projected 6,600 units in 2020 to 8,300 homes in 2040.

Clarendon, the Metro-accessible neighborhood with the smallest amount of housing available, is only set to grow from a projected 3,700 homes in 2020 to 4,600 in 2040. Courthouse is also projected to add 900 homes over the same time period, growing from 8,300 units to 9,200.

The county projects Virginia Square will add the fewest homes of anywhere in Arlington, growing from 4,600 homes to 5,400 by 2040.

With a projected total of 143,000 homes two decades from now, staffers expect that Arlington will add slightly more housing than residents between 2020 and 2040. The county is expecting to have a population of 238,300 by 2020 and jump to 287,600 by 2040, an increase of 22,700.

Researchers project a similarly large jump in jobs in the county — Arlington has 224,000 jobs right now and is projected to have 261,000 jobs by 2040, a jump of 37,000.

File photo

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Despite Hefty Rent Prices, Arlington Ranked Among Top Places for Solo Renters

Arlington has one of the highest median rent prices in the entire country, yet the county still ranks among the top places people can afford to live alone.

That’s according to a new study of 100 of the nation’s largest cities and counties by the financial data research firm SmartAsset. The company ranked Arlington 17th among that group for places where renters have the financial wherewithal live alone, largely because of the robust median income level of the county’s workers.

SmartAsset found that full-time employees in Arlington have a median income of just over $90,000 a year, putting the county at the top of the list among the firm’s top 25 places where renters can afford to go solo.

The county’s median monthly rent of $1,657 was also the most expensive of any other city on the company’s top 25 list, yet Arlington still ranked ahead of other large cities for renters looking to live alone, including San Francisco and Denver.

For context, the median income in D.C. is just over $75,500 a year. SmartAsset didn’t immediately have median rent prices available for the District, but real estate listing firm Zillow found that the median rent in the city was about $2,146 a month last year.

Arlington also scored high marks in SmartAsset’s rankings for its stock of homes with less than two bedrooms. In all, the company found that 36.5 percent of homes for rent in the county have one bedroom or are studio apartments.

Cincinnati, Omaha and Minneapolis ranked as the firm’s top three cities where renters can live alone. The full rankings are available on the company’s website.

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Report: Arlington Has Lost More Than 14,500 Market-Rate Affordable Homes Since 2000

Rent prices on more than 14,500 homes in Arlington have surged past rates deemed “market affordable” since 2000, according to a new report.

In an evaluation of affordable housing around the region, the Northern Virginia Housing Alliance found that the county has seen steep declines in the number of homes affordable for people making 60 percent of the area’s median income. In Arlington, federal officials set those levels at $49,260 a year for a one-person household and $70,320 for a four-person household.

The county had only 2,245 homes on the market affordable for people at those income levels through the end of 2017, the group wrote. The affordable housing advocacy group also determined that the county lost 335 homes affordable for people at those income levels over the course of 2017 alone.

At the same time, the county added 276 homes with rent prices specifically “committed” to remain affordable last year, “despite significant expenditures of local resources,” the group’s researchers found. In all, the county had 7,729 committed affordable units last year, or “approximately half of what has been lost in the last 17 years.”

County officials have long eyed this issue, and Arlington is hardly alone among its Northern Virginia neighbors when it comes to dealing with spiking rent prices. The group found that Alexandria and Fairfax County are dealing with similar trends, particularly as the D.C. region’s population continues to grow.

But with the potential arrival of tech giants like Amazon and Apple, the researchers warn that Arlington officials need to take a hard look at these numbers and put a focus on preserving the affordable homes already available.

“Preventing the further loss of rental units available to low- and moderate-income households is critical to expanding economic opportunity and supporting the region’s growth,” the group wrote. “In a resource-constrained environment, bridging the affordability gap requires stemming the loss of the existing stock of affordable homes.”

The researchers awarded the county government high marks for how it approaches the issue generally, but it also urged leaders to move ahead with plans to provide additional incentives for developers to both build and renovate affordable homes.

Additionally, the group urged local officials to work with “non-traditional, mission-driven developers” to help them acquire properties that might otherwise be used for high-priced apartments or condos.

“As budgets remain constrained and competing priorities emerge, it is important now more than ever that the region’s leaders work together to develop a range of creative solutions to create mixed-income communities that provide a range of housing choices,” the researchers wrote.

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Morning Notes

It’s Summer — Today is the first day of summer and the longest day of the year in terms of daylight. [Fortune]

Verizon 911 Outage Updated at 11:40 a.m. — From Arlington Alert: “Due to a regional Verizon outage, Verizon mobile phones may not be able to reach 9-1-1 or non-emergency numbers in the area at this time. Please use Text-to-9-1-1 or another phone carrier if the voice call does not go through.” Callers in Alexandria, Fairfax and Prince William are also affected by the outage. Service was restored around 11 a.m. [Twitter, WJLA]

Crash Leads to All-Time Terrible Commute — Yesterday’s evening commute was “atrocious” and the “worst I’ve ever seen” in Northern Virginia, per transportation reporter Adam Tuss. Traffic was especially slow on northbound I-395 and the northbound GW Parkway approaching D.C., after a deadly and fiery truck crash shut down a portion of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and the Capital Beltway. [WTOP, Twitter, Twitter]

New Details in Police Shooting — There are new details in the police shooting of a man near Columbia Pike last month. According to court records, Steven Best and his passenger “were involved in a drug transaction with a man outside a hotel.” Police then boxed in his van to make an arrest, but Best allegedly tried to flee, driving “forwards and backwards, striking multiple police cars,” leading to the shooting. Best’s family, which has questioned the police account of what happened, says they have a video of the shooting. [WJLA]

Housing Costs Still Rising — The average per-square-foot cost of an existing home in Arlington is now $475, an increase of 1.3 percent compared to last year and the highest such figure among Northern Virginia localities. [InsideNova]

New ACPD Officers — Ten new Arlington police officers took the oath of honor to protect and serve the residents of Arlington County earlier this week after graduating from the Northern Virginia Criminal Justice Training Academy. [Twitter]

Bishop Burbidge on World Refugee Day — Catholic Diocese of Arlington Bishop Michael Burbidge released a statement in honor of World Refugee Day yesterday, saying in part: “may we… stand with refugees and commemorate their courage, resilience and perseverance. May we always remember to ‘treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and … love him as yourself, for [we] were strangers in the land of Egypt’ (Leviticus19:34).” [Arlington Catholic Herald, Twitter]

Food Truck Inspections — The Arlington County Fire Department has been performing inspections this week of food trucks that operate in Arlington. Officials have been specifically looking at fire suppression systems and the storage of cooking fuels. [Twitter]

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