A recent national report has revealed that rents in Arlington have dropped by 14.8% since last March, according to an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data by ApartmentList.com.
Arlington has had the seventh-largest decrease compared to other (much larger) markets, like New York, San Francisco, and Seattle. D.C. had the fifth-largest decrease.
Between December and January, Arlington rents decreased by nearly 2.5%.
The median two-bedroom rent in the county is now $2,032, according to the report. However, Arlington still has the most expensive rents in the D.C. region, topping fellow close-in suburbs like Bethesda and Alexandria.
There’s one huge reason for the drop.
“It’s really tied to the economic carnage [from] the pandemic,” says Terry Clower, director of the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University. “Most of the jobs that we have lost have been in the hospitality services and retail sectors, which are typically disproportionately renters.”
Clower says parsing out data shows the pandemic has also caused behavioral changes in terms of renting. In general, high-rise units have seen a larger drop in demand than lower-rise properties, Clower notes.
“If part of your calculation of where you want to live at the moment is based on how dense the development is, how [crowded] it is in the elevator,” says Clower. “Then, you are less likely to live in a high rise.”
What’s more, there’s lower desire at the moment to live in high-density areas, according to Clower. While rent prices have declined in Arlington, they’ve risen in further D.C. area ‘burbs.
“Areas like Fredericksburg, Virginia… or Charles County, Maryland, rents have increased,” says Clower. “You’re getting… that effect of fleeing the dense inner suburbs to the less dense outer suburbs.”
The need for more space, as well, has shifted some renters to exploring buying single family homes. Between a lack of housing inventory and rising home values in Arlington, says Clower, demand for residences in the outer suburbs have also exploded.
“Most households in our region are two-income earner households, especially families with school-age children,” says Clower. “Kids need a place and both [parents] need some place to work inside the house, preferably not the kitchen table.”
Plus, lower interest rates have also encouraged first-time home buyers.
While rent decreases may be good for renters, it’s not good for property owners, developers, or even the county as a whole.
Clower says smaller landlords, those that only own a few properties, are not getting any break on mortgage payments, meaning decreasing rents impact their ability to pay their mortgage. In terms of the bigger developments, units are generating less revenue.
“They are less valuable in the market, which means that… the property taxes paid to local governments should be reduced as well,” says Clower. “Because they’re less valuable and generating less income.”
Arlington County depends on these property taxes to balance its budget and provide services to residents. But the full impact of all of this may not be seen until further into the future.
“The fiscal and economic down side of this pandemic is going to last well beyond… when we start getting the pandemic under control through the vaccinations,” says Clower.
Right now, it just may be a great moment to rent in Arlington. Clower says we can probably expect a continued slight dip in rents, but the big drop-off probably has already happened with vaccinations starting to happen.
“If you are looking for a good deal and prefer to be a renter,” says Clower, “it’s probably a good time to lock in a relatively long term lease.”
Rent Falling in Arlington — “The median rental price in Arlington for a two-bedroom apartment of $2,032 at the end of the year was down 14.8 percent from March, when the pandemic hit, according to the analysis. Arlington is among of 12 major urban communities that have seen rents fall by more than 10 percent since COVID’s arrival.” [InsideNova, WTOP]
Hotel Guest Arrested for Punching Cop — “Hotel management requested police stand by while they removed individuals from a room for violation of hotel policies. Management advised the guests they would need to leave, and while two of the occupants began to collect their belongings, an argument ensued between them. The dispute continued outside of the room and began to escalate, at which point officers separated the parties. The suspect then allegedly threw an unknown object into the elevator and rushed towards an officer, striking them with a closed fist.” [ACPD]
Compass Apologizes for Rogue Social Post — D.C.-based cafe chain Compass Coffee is apologizing for posting a screenshot of a tweet that said “Republicans are not our countrymen. They are terrorists…” on its Instagram account. “Sorry about this!” Compass said about the post. “Absolutely not what we believe or in line with our values. Currently investigating what / who posted this.” [Twitter]
Bishop Reflects on Capitol Riot — Writes Diocese of Arlington Bishop Michael Burbidge: “The mutual respect we must have for law and order was disregarded. Rather than being treated with respect for the inherently noble work with which they are entrusted, police officers and federal agents in and around the Capitol buildings were, in many cases, attacked, injured and harassed in the line of duty. We should all thank them for their courage and service.” [Arlington Catholic Herald]
Local Nonprofit Has New Leader — “Diana Ortiz, who has more than two decades in the social-safety-net world, has been tapped as president of Doorways, the non-profit safety-net provider. She succeeds Caroline Jones, who departed earlier this year to take a post with the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing.” [InsideNova]
Beyer Staffer Tapped for White House Role — “Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) today congratulated his departing Chief of Staff, Tanya Bradsher, who was appointed by President-elect Joe Biden to serve as Senior Director for Partnerships and Global Engagement on the National Security Council… Beyer announced that his Acting Chief of Staff Zach Cafritz, who had previously served as Deputy Chief of Staff and Legislative Director, would take over as Chief of Staff.” [Press Release]
Modification to Red Top Development — “As currently proposed, the building would have 269 residential units instead of the previously-approved 247. The unit mix will span from studios to two bedrooms, and the ground-floor units will have private entrances, including a lone three-bedroom unit. The development will also include 134 vehicular spaces and 108 bicycle spaces on a below-grade level.” [UrbanTurf]
Spotted: First Snowflakes of the Season — The first snowflakes of the season in Arlington fell yesterday. Though the few flakes that briefly fell did not amount to any degree of accumulation, it was enough to prompt a few social media posts. [Twitter, Twitter]
Rental Assistance for Day Laborers — “Arlington County Board members on Dec. 12 are expected to reallocate funds from the Shirlington Employment and Education Center (SEEC) to support rental assistance for day-laborers in the community. The plan will move $32,000 of the county government’s annual grant of $208,643 to SEEC to directly focus on rental assistance by making direct payments to landlords.” [InsideNova]
Inmates, Deputies to Be Tested — “Sheriff Beth Arthur announces all Sheriff’s Office staff and inmates housed at the Arlington County Detention Facility will be tested for COVID-19 on December 10th and 11th by the Virginia National Guard.” [Arlington County]
Nearby: MoCo May Nix Indoor Dining — “Indoor dining at restaurants in Montgomery County could soon be shut down, a new measure to combat the spread of COVID-19. Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich announced his proposal on Wednesday afternoon during a media briefing held with county and medical officials across the state.” [Bethesda Magazine, Washington Post]
Garvey Stands By Streetcar Stance — “It cost her the goodwill of many in the county’s Democratic ranks, and four years ago nearly cost her her job, but Libby Garvey says she has no regrets. Garvey, now seeking a third full term on the Arlington County Board, used the Sept. 8 Arlington County Civic Federation candidate forum to remind voters of her full-throttle opposition to the Columbia Pike streetcar system – the biggest political controversy of recent years.” [InsideNova]
Local Man Facing Child Porn Charges — “An Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force investigation by state and local agencies has resulted in the arrest of an Arlington man. Detectives arrested Luis Hernandez Orozco, 25, and charged him with two counts of Possession of Child Pornography. He is being held in the Arlington County Detention Facility.” [Arlington County]
Arlington Somewhat Affordable for Renters — Arlington has ranked No. 18 on a new list of the “Cities Where Renters Can Afford to Live Alone,” which ranks locales based on average rent for a studio or one-bedroom apartment, relative to the median income in the area. [SmartAsset]
Drive-In Movie on Saturday — “The drive-in is back, and coming to a neighborhood near you. Gather the family and cruise down to Ballston to watch an exclusive screening of Night at the Museum at Ballston’s Drive-In Movie Night. Tickets include free sweet treats, but be sure to bring your own movie snacks.” [Ballston BID]
County Allocates More Money for Rent Relief — “The Arlington County Board today approved using an additional $1.125 million from the County’s COVID-19 contingent account to fund eviction protection through December 2020 for those affected by the pandemic. The Board’s action brings the total amount allocated for eviction prevention in Fiscal Year 2021, which began July 1, 2020, to $3.5 million.” [Arlington County]
AWLA Pushes to Extend Eviction Ban — “The Animal Welfare League of Arlington is pushing for legislators to extend Governor Northam’s original eviction deadline of September 7, to prevent animals from being surrendered by people who can’t afford them. AWLA says they’re here to help tenants during these trying times and also urge landlords to cut back on animal restrictions and limitations.” [WDVM]
I-66 Lane Closures This Weekend — “Single-lane closures on westbound I-66 just before the bridge over Lee Highway (Route 29) at Exit 72 will occur (weather permitting) between 9 p.m. Friday night, Aug. 28 and 5 a.m. Monday morning, Aug. 31 for road repairs, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.” [VDOT]
Arlington-Based Lidl Expanding — “Discount grocery Lidl, whose North American headquarters is in Crystal City, Virginia, will open 50 new stores by the end of 2021, including 10 new locations in Maryland, and seven new stores in Virginia.” [WTOP]
Nearby: Rabies Warning in Falls Church — “The City of Falls Church Police and Animal Warden remind residents about the risks of rabid wildlife spreading rabies to pets. Police recently responded to a report of a sick raccoon in the 1200 block of Lincoln Ave. The raccoon was euthanized and later found to have rabies. In this case, two dogs were exposed to the raccoon and are now in quarantine.” [City of Falls Church]
Prosecutor Files Petition Against Judges — “A northern Virginia prosecutor who says her county’s judges are infringing on her discretion to dismiss charges and enter plea bargains is asking the state Supreme Court to intervene on her behalf. Arlington County Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti filed a petition Friday asking the court for a relief from a policy imposed by the county’s four Circuit Court judges.” [Associated Press]
New BBQ Pop-Up Coming to Pentagon City — “In their spare time [chefs Kevin Tien and Scott Chung] dreamed up Wild Tiger BBQ, which launches Thursday, August 20 next to Bun’d Up at Pentagon Row in Arlington. The pop-up will run Thursday through Saturday for the first few weeks.” [Washingtonian]
‘Bumper Crop of Mosquitos’ — “With the floods of summer come the pests of summer — bloodsucking mosquitoes. It takes several days to a couple of weeks for mosquitoes to hatch, molt and fly out of floodwater, but the swarms eventually arrive, in greater numbers than before the flood. After the recent flooding from thunderstorms and Tropical Storm Isaias in the Washington region, a bumper crop of mosquitoes has emerged.” [Washington Post]
Retired Colonel Helps With COVID Response — “When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early March, retired U.S. Air Force Colonel David Ashley quickly found his planned spring and summer mountain climbing trips canceled. He spent about a week doing projects around his Arlington home, but after 27 years in the military, he realized he need something else, something with more purpose.” [Arlington County]
Cab Exec’s Offensive Post Makes Headlines — “An elected town council member in Strasburg, Va., who also is chairman of the 6th Congressional District’s Republican Committee admitted this week that he posted, then removed, a sexually offensive meme targeted at Sen. Kamala D. Harris… [John] Massoud, who is vice president of Arlington’s Blue Top taxi service and was an unsuccessful candidate against ex-Del. Bob Brink for a House of Delegates seat from Arlington in 1997 and 1999, moved to the Shenandoah Valley about 10 years ago.” [Washington Post]
Analysis of Rents Near Metro Stations — “The most expensive rents ($2,200 and up) are found in areas of Arlington and Washington, DC. Rent near the Ballston-MU station is in the mid-range among DC Metro stops. But while the median price increased near Court House, it decreased near Ballston-MU, according to the analysis. The median rent for a one-bedroom unit near Ballston-MU is $1,975, a 1.3 percent decrease from 2019.” [Patch]
Clement Rips Dems for Redistricting Stance — “An independent candidate for Arlington County Board has criticized the Arlington County Democratic Committee for its opposition to a nonpartisan-redistricting constitutional amendment on the state ballot in November. Audrey Clement, who is challenging incumbent Democrat Libby Garvey for County Board, said the Democrats’ vote seems disingenuous for a party that claims to be about good government.” [InsideNova]
Arlington Makes Top Travel Destination List — “For all the talk of a move to small, less densely populated destinations, Hotwire also ranked much bigger cities. Its ‘midsize must see’ picks were St. Louis; Tampa, Florida; Atlanta; Arlington, Virginia; Tucson, Arizona; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Virginia Beach, Virginia; Pittsburgh; Miami; and Cincinnati.” [CNBC]
Storm Results in Minor Damage — Isaias only caused minor damage in Arlington as it roared past the D.C. area as a tropical storm. Arlington received about 2 inches of rain and some gusty winds as the storm passed. The rain did cause Four Mile Run to top its banks and cover the bike path near Carlin Springs Road. [Twitter]
Thousands of Local Renters Seeking Help — Arlington County “has been besieged with requests for help — in the eight months before the county declared an emergency because of the pandemic, her division received 821 requests for financial- and eviction-prevention assistance. Between March and May, that number was 2,378. The county hired temporary workers to supplement the county workers, who are working from home, and is trying to assist residents, some of whom don’t have Internet access and must rely on sending and receiving forms by mail.” [Washington Post]
Lots of Retail Rent Not Getting Paid — “Retail tenants have been hardest hit during the pandemic, across the board and for JBG Smith. The company collected 58% of rent due from those tenants in the second quarter, compared with nearly 99% for office and 98.5% for multifamily… JBG Smith is exploring the possibility of incorporating ghost kitchens, or food preparation facilities for delivery-only meals, to fill some of the void created by empty retail spaces as a temporary measure.” [Washington Business Journal]
Arlington GOP vs. WaPo Reporter — The Arlington County Republican Committee, in response to a Washington Post article about its chairman’s social media posts, posted the following on Twitter last night: “#FakeNews opinion columnist @psullivan1 was forced to change her slanderous headline… She apologizes for Communist China, but falls all over herself for a headline. lol, Peopermint Patti” [Twitter]
This One Time, Not at Band Camp — “APS has decided to cancel all August activities until further notice. The WL marching band camp for 2020 has been canceled.” [Twitter]
Rent Protest Today — Starting at the shopping center parking lot at 5001 Columbia Pike, a caravan of cars adorned with signs will travel to local apartment complexes to support “rent cancellation during this pandemic plus two months following the ability for community members to work and pay rent,” among other aims. The protest is being organized by La ColectiVA and other groups. [Facebook]
Animal Control Rescues Turtle from I-395 — “A few days ago, we got a call about a turtle very close to traffic on I-395. When Sgt Ballena arrived, he found a young snapping turtle who’s beak was fractured and bleeding. He took the turtle to Blue Ridge Wildlife Center, who will care for him until he can be released.” [Twitter]
Arlington Officers Injured During D.C. Protests — Despite an earlier comment by the police chief that no officers were injured, “a spokesperson for Arlington County Police told us, ‘one Arlington officer suffered a concussion and several others suffered bruises and abrasions.'” [WUSA 9]
Home Sales Downs, Prices Up — “May is usually one of the best months for housing sales, but the COVID-19 pandemic and a lack of listings sidelined many potential buyers. The D.C. area had its slowest May for sales in a decade. But more sellers stepped up from April and prices continue to rise year-over-year… The median price of what sold in Arlington County was $622,500, up 1.2% from last May.” [WTOP]
Could HQ2 Be Downsized? — Amazon prizes in-person interactions among employees, but there are still questions as to whether the company will proceed with the second phase of its 4+ million square foot permanent second headquarters in Pentagon City. [Washington Business Journal]
Orange Line Platform Work Moving Along — “Two weeks into the summer shutdown, construction activity is well underway at Vienna, Dunn Loring, West Falls Church and East Falls Church stations. So far, construction crews have focused on demolition work, including the removal of all tiles from the platforms, mezzanines and pedestrian bridges.” [WMATA]
Two Recent Drownings Near Chain Bridge — While D.C. Fire and EMS warns of dangerous waters near the Chain Bridge, the department said another grim discovery was made Thursday. “There have been 2 drownings in the past 3 weeks near Chain Bridge and a body was recovered today,” DCFEMS said. [Twitter]
(Updated at 8:10 p.m.) More than 3,500 local residents are having trouble paying their rent during the pandemic, according to a survey of nonprofits conducted by Arlington County.
The figure was included in a staff report for an item to be considered by the County Board later today.
“Arlington County conducted a survey to assess community needs related to the COVID-19 public health crisis and to inform staff recommendations for the use of funds being made available through the federal CARES Act,” the report says. “The survey was sent to 73 nonprofit organizations that serve low and moderate income residents in Arlington, with 26 responses… Of the clients served during the past month, service providers reported that over 3,500 clients were having difficulty paying the rent, with many others unable to pay utilities or access resources or school because of internet/technology issues.”
Lower-income workers have been particularly hard-hit by the pandemic, which has prompted mass layoffs in the restaurant, retail and hospitality industries, among others.
The county is citing its community needs survey in a plan for how to allocate supplemental Community Development Block Grant and Community Services Block Grant funding under the CARES Act — the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus and recovery bill passed in March.
The County Board is set to vote tonight on a staff proposal for allocating around $1 million in federal funding — intended to help localities respond to the coronavirus crisis — to “provide emergency rent, utility and internet assistance to prevent 200-600 households from becoming homeless.”
The funds will be dispersed by Arlington Thrive, the staff report says. Andrew Schneider, executive director of the nonprofit, tells ARLnow that needs in the community are rising.
“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, Thrive has seen an unprecedented increase in the number of requests,” Schneider said. “We have had approximately a 150% increase in request for basic financial needs like rental assistance, utility assistance, and medical and dental assistance. We anticipate this increase in demand to continue through the summer.”
More from the report:
Based on the survey results and consultation with staff from the Department of Human Services, Department of Libraries, and Department of Technology Services, Arlington County proposes utilizing CARES funding to support an emergency assistance program to include rent, utilities and internet costs for low- and moderate-income Arlington renters who have experienced loss of income directly related to COVID-19. Monthly payments will be based on need, and will not exceed $1,500 per month per household, for up to three months. The program will be administered through Arlington Thrive, a nonprofit emergency assistance organization that will conduct outreach, handle intakes, and make emergency payments directly to landlords and/or utility companies. An estimated 200-600 Arlington households will be served by this program and may avoid eviction as a result. Additionally, Arlington Thrive will provide information on food resources to clients and community partners.
Several local and regional advocacy groups are planning a strike along Columbia Pike tomorrow (Friday) against the collection of rent during the coronavirus crisis.
Nationally there has been a numerous of strikes against paying rent during the pandemic, with many service workers or low-income families are out of work. New Virginia Majority — a progressive organization aimed at rallying marginalized communities — is planning statewide action along with Tenants and Workers United, Asian American Civic Engagement Collaborative, and the Virginia Student Power Network.
“In Arlington, members will meet at 2:30 p.m. and caravan in their cars along Columbia Pike apartment complexes — where many Asian, Latinx, African and Black tenants reside,” New Virginia Majority said in a press release. “Those who cannot join will make posters and selfie videos to post online.”
Debra Freeman, communications director for New Virginia Majority, said the format of the protest will likely be similar to the protest outside the Southern Towers apartment complex in Alexandria two weeks ago. While the Alexandria protest faced some criticism online as being disruptive to people in the building, Freeman said the goal is to put the issue in the public spotlight.
“We’ll be going to caravan up and down Columbia Pike with signs,” Freeman said. “It doesn’t just affect one particular apartment community or one landlord, it’s across the board. It’s everywhere. People may not be thinking of service workers — who can’t make income [during the pandemic]. It’s about awareness.”
The protests follow a Cancel Rent petition that circulated around the state and gathered nearly 3,000 signatures. The petition asked federal and state officials to cancel rent collection as well as suspend the accumulation of rent debt. It also asks for a halt to evictions, though evictions are banned in Virginia through May.
“We live paycheck to paycheck and often work full time but still can’t make ends meet,” the petition says. “During this crisis, we are struggling to pay for basic necessities like food, medicine, and housing.”
Michelle Chan, an organizer with New Virginia Majority, equated freezing rent with the government stepping in to stop price gouging on essential goods like hand sanitizer.
“There are a lot of folks are community members who are not making any money right now,” Chan said. “Any stimulus money, and funding to folks, should go to feeding their families.”
Chan said that one of the goals is to try to work out a better deal for renters with large property owners. Organizers are still hammering out details with community members as the group heads into the protest, she said.
Organizations are encouraging those who see the Pike protest driving by to join in.
“I hope the takeaway is that we’re all in this together,” Freeman said. “Only by coming together and supporting each other are we going to get on the other side of this.”
Staff photo via Jay Westcott, graphic courtesy New Virginia Majority