In an aggressive move, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted yesterday (Tuesday) to amp up its affordable housing goals.
Through a motion introduced by Chairman Jeff McKay and Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust, the board set a new goal of 10,000 affordable housing units by 2034. The previous target, set in 2019, was 5,000 new units in 15 years.
McKay said the county’s previous goal was set in place as a floor, rather than a ceiling, and with the “intent to blow it out of the water.”
“It’s amazing that we’re in a position today just two years after adopting that goal, that we’re able to move the floor to 10,000 units moving forward,” McKay said. “That’s 10,000 individuals and families whose lives will be immeasurably improved, and that’s 10,000 units that we know will be occupied by many, many families over many years.”
Currently, there are 2,200 new affordable units under development in the county.
The county has also renewed efforts to make affordable housing a central planning tenet. For instance, the board approved $33 million in federal loans to fund a 175-unit residential project at Dominion Square West in Tysons.
Despite a renewed effort to boost the county’s affordable housing stock, the move still falls short of providing the 15,000 units that the county’s Affordable Housing Resources Panel predicted the county would need.
Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn said he has set a goal of securing 1,000 additional units in the Hunter Mill District specifically by the end of 2027.
“I would welcome any of my colleagues who want to get a little friendly competition, as long as we’re not taking any projects from anyone else’s district,” he said. “This is something that’s going to benefit everyone in the county, but it is up to us to work through these issues, to make sure that the projects get funded, that they get support from the community, and work through the process as they are.”
Springfield District Supervisor Herrity voted against the board matter, expressing discomfort with pursuing a goal without having a a clear financial plan.
“I’m sorry I can’t commit to literally taxing many of our residents out of their houses, which we are doing and have done, by committing to spend untold tens of millions of dollars in rent-controlled housing with undetermined fiscal impacts,” Herrity said, noting that the county is in the middle of a budget cycle. “I’ve been supportive of creative affordable housing solutions, but we don’t have any of those on the table right now.’
McKay called Herrity’s comments an “affront” to the development community, the nonprofit community, county staff, and the community at large.
“This is an economic issue,” McKay countered. “Not doing anything will cost us far more as a community, not to mention all the moral responsibility issues and all the things we talked about here, but not aspiring to this goal will cost the county enormously from an economic standpoint.”
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