Connolly Announces County to Explore Purchase of Foreclosed Properties for Workforce Housing

Fairfax County Office of Public Affairs
12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 551
Fairfax, VA 22035-0065
Contact: Merni Fitzgerald, Director of Public Affairs
703-324-3187, TTY 711, Fax 703-324-2010
Media Pager: 703-324-NEWS (6397)

March 28, 2008

Chairman Connolly Announces County to Explore Purchase of Foreclosed Properties for Workforce Housing

Support for Additional Enhanced Code Enforcement Funding also Announced

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerald E. Connolly announced tonight in his fifth annual State of the County address that the county will explore using its Penny for Affordable Housing program to purchase homes in foreclosure for resale at affordable rates as workforce housing.

“The county has not considered the outright purchasing of houses in the past because the market was so high, but the recent increase in foreclosures presents us with an opportunity to help bring stability to working families and to neighborhoods beset with empty houses,” Connolly said.

Fairfax County, like other communities across the region and the nation, is experiencing an increase in foreclosures due to the sharp decline in the housing market coupled with the subprime mortgage crisis in the national economy. Two years ago, Fairfax County had 347 houses in foreclosure. Last year, that figure was 4,527, and it is expected to pass 5,000 in the current year. In January 2008, there were 1,330 houses in foreclosure compared to 74 during the same month last year.

“Clearly taking a home out of foreclosure would help restore stability to a neighborhood and restore confidence in the local real estate market,” Connolly said. “It also would allow the county to open these houses to working families for purchase at an affordable rate. Workforce housing is in great demand but short in supply.”

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted in 2005 to dedicate the value of one penny on the real estate tax rate for the preservation of affordable housing. Under Connolly’s leadership, the board established the goal of preserving 1,000 units during its four-year term that otherwise would have been lost to market conditions. Since creating the Penny for Affordable Housing program, Fairfax County has helped preserve more than 2,200 units.

In addition to this new initiative, Connolly also announced in his annual address that he will push for the Board of Supervisors to support additional staffing and resources for the county’s successful Enhanced Code Enforcement Strike Teams. The board created two Strike Teams, enlisting personnel from 19 county agencies, in July 2007 to address unsafe and overcrowded houses.

“We identified a troubling phenomenon in which a small number of property owners were willfully violating local zoning and safety laws by creating unsafe boarding houses,” Connolly said. “Although there are more investments to make, we are turning the tide, and we will continue to pursue this endeavor until we have fully met our goals of stable, safe residential communities.

“Since the Strike Teams were put into action, we have issued more than 4,000 violations at 218 properties. We have closed more than 60 cases involving boarding houses or other code violations, another 75 cases have been referred for criminal or civil prosecution, and more than 180 cases are still under investigation,” he added.

Connolly also addressed critical investments in transportation, the environment and education during his address, which was broadcast live on Channel 16. The address will replay Fridays and Sundays at 5:30 p.m. and Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. on Channel 16. It also will be available for viewing anytime on Video on Demand.


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