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Fairfax County’s Lack of Affordable Housing To Be Topic of Meeting

by Katherine Berko — June 21, 2017 at 5:00 pm 21 Comments

Jo-Ann Duggan, the Director of Outreach at St. John Neumann Parish, knows there are people struggling to keep a roof over their heads.

“Yesterday, I was speaking to someone who was trying to find housing for a friend of hers who has three children and earns $23,000 a year,” Duggan said Wednesday. “She works in retail. She’s a single mother.”

St. John Neumann Parish (11900 Lawyers Road) will play host Thursday to a meeting with the Housing Matters program, opening the conversation about the need for affordable housing in Fairfax County.

The goals of the meeting, which will take place from 7-8:45 p.m. at the parish’s auditorium, include helping residents understand how housing can affect other facets of a community. Other related topics will include a discussion of how much affordable housing is needed for an economically sustainable Fairfax County.

Duggan is hopeful that the Housing Matters program will receive lots of community input to help alleviate the housing struggles of many residents. Duggan first heard of the program from John Horejsi, who works for Social Action Linking Together, a legislative advocacy group. Horejsi attended a Housing Matters program and thought it would be worthwhile to bring to the church.

“Housing Matters is all about safe and affordable housing so that communities can thrive,” Horejsi said. “When you achieve that — when you have safe and affordable housing — the families do better, there’s more upward economic mobility, the kids do better in school. We all benefit.”

Horejsi explained that when there is affordable housing, more businesses are attracted to the area due to its stable workforce. He said that currently, the average rent in Fairfax County is $1,700-$1,800 a month, while half of the jobs in the area reap less than $50,000 a year. Rents are increasing while salaries are not. Horejsi explained that as rent gets more expensive, workers start to move away.

“If the workers in our community whom we need can’t afford to live here, then they’re just going to clog up all the roads and that’s going to create more air pollution,” said Horejsi. “Doing nothing [for affordable housing] is going to cost a lot more in the long run.”

Thursday’s meeting will feature a presentation from Vin Rogers, the division director for the Fairfax County Department of Housing and Community Development. After Rogers speaks, facilitators will help lead conversations among groups of attendees. Feedback and input will be encouraged during these group discussions.

“It’s going to be a dialogue first of all,” Horejsi said.

Duggan said she anticipates 50-100 people to turn up at the meeting. Anyone interested in the meeting is encouraged to fill out a survey about housing in the area.

For more details about the event, contact Duggan or Horejsi by email.

Chart via Fairfax County Department of Housing and Community Development

  • Dale

    Why do I think ultimately their answer is to increase Population Density!

    • TheKingJAK

      Experience, that’s why.

    • RestonAssurance

      Plausible as much as I despise density population, however, housing for retail and service workers close to where they work is considerate. We frequent the businesses, and we should care about the workers to give them a chance to better themselves. Or basically we have a NIMBY situation, we’ll send them off elsewhere and they’ll just keep getting passed around.

      • Mike M

        Passed around until they find the IMBY community who will bite the bullet for them.

  • Big Drop

    Remarkable. Our townhouse near South Lakes HS was assessed for less in 2016 than it was in 2006. There is a lot of housing in Fairfax county that is worth less this year than 10 years ago. Rental housing on the other hand has increased by perhaps 50% in this period. At some point those who are renting are going to realize they should be buying and there are a lot of very real bargains available.

    Of course this also means a significant down payment and finding credit which is a totally different matter today vs. 2006. Result is that many rent.

    • 40yearsinreston

      Ever hear of the financial meltdown ?
      Prices dropped by at least 40%

      • Greg

        They sure did — almost 60% in the case of this 3/2 condo, and still 30% below 2007 values.

        Values History
        Tax Year Land Building Assessed Total Tax Exempt
        2016 $38,000 $151,890 $189,890 NO
        2015 $39,000 $154,770 $193,770 NO
        2014 $37,000 $146,010 $183,010 NO
        2013 $30,000 $120,010 $150,010 NO
        2012 $25,000 $101,700 $126,700 NO
        2011 $25,000 $101,700 $126,700 NO
        2010 $22,000 $88,170 $110,170 NO
        2009 $26,000 $102,100 $128,100 NO
        2008 $41,000 $165,620 $206,620 NO
        2007 $52,000 $210,100 $262,100 NO
        2006 $51,000 $202,850 $253,850 NO
        2005 $38,000 $150,210 $188,210 NO
        2004 $15,600 $117,675 $133,275 NO
        2003 $15,600 $93,195 $108,795 NO
        2002 $15,600 $68,090 $83,690 NO
        2001 $15,600 $53,000 $68,600 NO
        2000 $13,500 $44,345 $57,845 NO

    • Guest

      Your home was likely severely overpriced in 2006 by the financial/real estate bubble which collapsed in on itself. Even 10 years later, some homes have still not regained that lost valuation, although homes prices have been again rising throughout the area for some time now. So you are hardly alone. Also, the market changes all the time. Also consider the possibility that you now live in an older, dumpy house in an older dumpy neighborhood?

      • RestonAssurance

        That’s right. The bubble burst and hit the fan! We’re all still paying the price for that vulturous gem of fraudulent lenders.

  • Mike M

    This is yet another Socialist movement to expand the County’s involvement in the housing business. The sad thing is that it just means we will all be paying more to house other people who won’t get educated or paid enough to live here. Sorry about that. Subsidies, as in healthcare, as in higher education, only make prices rise. That is why those sectors experience extended periods of inflation far higher than the CPI. They also tend to damage the value of property and quality of life in the immediate vicinity of the subsidy. Get the County OUT of the housing business.

  • Guest

    Why do I hear echoes of Socialist Supervisor Hudgins’s voice saying “more worker housing…more worker housing?”

  • Tired of it in Reston

    There is no need for ‘affordable housing’ – there is what the free market will dictate. If you can afford something, you can live here, if not, you cannot, and have to make alternate choices. Nobody bemoans the ‘lack of affordable housing’ in Malibu…subsidized housing is a detriment to the community and to those who made the investment in their own properties – by bringing in people who cannot afford it and have historically overcrowded these dwellings, have no financial interest in their upkeep, etc

  • Scott

    Did you catch it? Lack of “affordable” housing causes climate change b/c people have to drive and clog the roads. Smh

    • Tired of it in Reston

      Did you also catch “a friend of hers who has three children and earns $23,000 a year,” “She works in retail. She’s a single mother.”…now we have to find housing for someone who has possibly made bad life choices – and no doubt is already receiving social benefits (free medical, education for the kids, food stamps – and at that income level pays very little or NO taxes…) but we must help her live in one of the wealthiest communities in the nation – it is OUR problem

      • Scott

        Great point. Should also be noted that there is already a bunch of ‘affordable’ housing in S Reston around the area of dogwood elementary. It’s the reason the same house is $80k different depending on which side of Reston Pkwy you live on.

      • Greg

        You are right. Moreover, there are retail jobs in every town and city in America — nearly all paying the same wages. There is no right to live in one of the wealthiest communities in the nation, on a retail or any other wage, but the wise will move where their earning ability will support their needs.

        If not enough (retail) workers in Reston are willing to work for $23,000 a year, the employers will pay more. It’s supply and demand 101.

        And, no, the county, as the landlord owning more rental units than any private landlord, should not spend another penny on “affordable” housing. All this does is increase costs for everyone, including those making $23,000 a year, in the form of higher taxes.

      • RestonAssurance

        Tired of it in Reston – a mother can be single for many more reasons than “someone who has possibly made bad life choices” unless you believe that a fallen soldier/husband dying in combat has caused her to make a bad decision because he died and now she’s single.

        • Mike M

          And we cover that too.

  • Scott

    I rencently moved into a modest, 50-yr old single family in South Reston, but I’d REALLY like to live in McLean, off of 123 or 193. Can we have a Housing Matters session to figure out how to make that happen for me? I want to send my kids to Langley. K thanks.

  • Greg

    There is a (biased?) Fairfax County survey about affordable housing. Please consider sharing your opinions on the survey:

    https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/WhyHousingMattersinFairfaxCounty

  • Mike M

    My firm just decided to move to a really horrible location. Buy me a house next door? No, I need to reconsider whether I want to work for a firm that makes bad decisions and whether I want to make that commute. Fancy this radical notion – I may change jobs!

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