Housing and Community Development - Public Affairs

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Ben Boxer
Public Affairs Manager

With Affordable Housing, Great Things Can Come in Small Packages

With an enormous need for 15,000 net new homes for low- to moderate-income families over the next 15 years, two things are clear: 1) collaboration and partnerships are critical to filling this need; and 2) solutions come in all shapes and sizes. Fairfax County and Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia met to commemorate a unique project that proved both these axioms true as they celebrated the completed rehabilitation of a 995 square-foot home in the Woodlawn section of Alexandria.

In December 2018, The Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority (FCRHA) awarded $107,000 in federal HOME Investment Partnerships Program funding to support an extensive rehabilitation of a deteriorating structure in order to provide an affordable home to a displaced senior citizen—and armed forces veteran with special needs—living on an extremely low income level (below 30 percent of area median income).

“Affordable housing is a topic very high on people’s minds these days,” said Chairman Sharon Bulova. “According to US Census data from 2018, nearly 25 percent of Fairfax County residents live in households with incomes that cannot adequately sustain the cost of living in Fairfax County. This fact often goes unnoticed when you think of Fairfax County as one of the largest and wealthiest communities in the nation. But is it real; and the need to help these individuals—who contribute in so many ways to our local economy and within our communities—to  find affordable, safe and stable housing with access to the benefits and opportunities that life in Fairfax County brings is real.”


With this project, Habitat for Humanity has been able to positively affect the lives of at least 4 families in transforming this home:

  • Purchasing the property with an outdated and undermaintained structure allowed the previous elderly homeowner to move to new and more positive living situation.
  • In working with the new homeowner currently in transitional housing, Habitat for Humanity purchased his former property which was destroyed by fire in return for rehabilitating this home for him.
  • Habitat for Humanity will build two new affordable homes on the parcel purchased from the new homeowner to provide new homes to two identified families at an affordable rate.

“We love run down homes and odd parcels,” said Rev. Dr. Jon Smoot, Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia. “When we look at them, we see opportunity; and thanks to the gracious contributions of community partners, builders and volunteers, we can transform them into opportunities for individuals and families with low to moderate incomes to enjoy a safe, stable home environment which is so important for all of us in reaching our potential.”

The unique, small home provides several benefits which coincide with the county’s Housing Blueprint and Communitywide Housing Strategic Plan:

  • Contributes towards the goal of producing a minimum of 5,000 new affordable homes within the next 15 years
  • Supports the effort to end homelessness in 10 years
  • Provides affordable housing options to those with special needs
  • Provides affordable housing for older adults allowing them to age in place
  • Provides an affordable housing option oriented around public services and transportation

“This project is indicative of the kinds of partnerships that the Redevelopment and Housing Authority seeks to nurture,” said Tom Fleetwood, Director of the Fairfax County Department of Housing and Community Development. “Serving as the local housing financing authority, the FCRHA holds that partnerships and collaborations with valued partners who share our passion and vigor for this work, like Habitat for Humanity, are at the very core of our effort to ensure that affordable homes are available for households across the income spectrum.”

During FY 2019, the FCRHA awarded $4.67 million in federal Community Development Block Grant and HOME funds to eight non-profit partners for the development, acquisition and/or rehabilitation of 60 units of affordable housing for low-income individuals. Additionally, during the same year, partners used $4.5 million in previously awarded federal funds to acquire 20 housing units that are supporting approximately 32 individuals with incomes at or below 50 percent of the area median income.

While only encompassing a mere 995 square-feet, this diminutive home in Alexandria provides an enormous example of partnership, thoughtful and strategic planning and of the value that even one affordable unit can bring to a community, a family and an individual. 

For additional information regarding the work of the FCRHA, check out the FY 2019 FCRHA Annual Report available online.

For additional information about Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia, please visit their website.

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