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Fairfax County reports steady progress towards affordable housing target

Upcoming affordable housing projects include One University, a new development near George Mason University that’s expected to finish this summer (via Fairfax County)

Fairfax County is moving steadily towards its target of building 10,000 net new affordable housing units by 2034.

The county has roughly 4,000 units built, planned or under construction that count towards the goal set in 2022, Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) Deputy Director of Real Estate Development and Finance Anna Shapiro told the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors at a housing committee meeting on Tuesday (Feb. 27).

So far, 879 new units aimed at households earning 60% of the area median income (AMI) and below have been built since 2020.

“These are serving on kind of lower end of the income spectrum, but all the way down to 30% in a lot of cases as well,” Shapiro said. “And as you can see there’s a mix of multifamily and senior housing that we’ve delivered.”

An additional 986 units are under construction in projects like One University and Ilda’s Overlook in the Braddock District, which are set to wrap up in the summer. The county has roughly 1,100 units in its development pipeline, and another 950 units are in the planning phase.

The county is also working to encourage the development of more for-sale workforce dwelling units (WDUs). A task force submitted recommendations to the board’s housing committee in November.

The task force recommended shifting the program’s target range from up to 120% of the AMI down to 70 to 100% AMI, extending the geographic availability of for-sale WDUs and improving the mix of housing to allow for more family-sized units.

Additionally, the county wants to explore ways to preserve the existing stock of affordable housing, such as the Coralain Gardens Apartments in West Falls Church. A survey on market affordability is set to begin in the summer.

A plan amendment that would address the affordability of manufactured housing (the county’s term for mobile homes) is set to go before the Fairfax County Planning Commission sometime in October, followed by board review before the end of the year.

Board Chairman Jeff McKay said he was pleased with the county’s progress thus far but asked for a more detailed breakdown by magisterial district.

“One of the things that certainly makes me happy when looking at this is that we’re building affordable housing in every corner of the county and not just in the same concentrated areas that we did for decades,” McKay said.

Shapiro noted that the numbers are fluid, particularly since the county must consider the entire life cycle of proposed projects.

“Every project has ups and downs,” she said.

Braddock District Supervisor James Walkinshaw also sought clarifications on whether the county has maxed out its potential for affordable housing projects on county-owned land.

“My sense is, probably across the county, we’ve taken advantage of the easier opportunities and the larger parcels, but maybe that’s not the case,” Walkinshaw said.

Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity asked for more information on homeownership for affordable housing units. The county is in the midst of hiring a homeownership director, according to HCD Director Tom Fleetwood.

“It solves a number of generational wealth problems,” Fleetwood said.

Rendering via Fairfax County

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