On May 11, 2021, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors met jointly with the Commissioners of the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority (FCRHA) to discuss recent housing achievements facilitated through the partnership of the two organizations, and the opportunities to further progress towards achieving and surpassing the county’s affordable housing goals. The meeting comes at a pivotal time as the FCRHA has welcomed several new commissioners and amid the increasingly accelerated pace of affordable housing preservation and development efforts across the county.
“It’s been a little more than two years since the Board of Supervisors adopted the county’s goal of producing a minimum of 5,000 net new units of affordable housing within 15 years – by 2034 – and so much has happened since then,” reflected Melissa McKenna, Chair of the FCRHA. “The events of the past two years have amplified the importance of the work of creating opportunities for affordable housing, and we at the FCRHA are sincerely appreciative of the partnership and support we have with this Board which has allowed us to respond in such an extraordinary fashion.”
Among the significant achievements since the last joint meeting of the Board of Supervisors and the FCHRA, the discussion centered around four main categories:
- The dedication of public lands for affordable housing
- The Residences at North Hill (Mt. Vernon District): 279 units; under construction
- One University (Braddock District): 240 units; expected closing in Summer 2021
- Oakwood Senior Apartments (Lee District): 150 units; expected closing in Summer 2021
- The Lodge at Autumn Willow (Springfield District): 150 units of senior housing; expected closing in Spring 2022
- New transfers of land at the Government Center Campus (Braddock District) and the Franconia Governmental Center (Lee District) for further studies to determine possibilities of use for affordable housing
- The continued investment of a variety of financial resources
- The FY 2022 Budget included guidance to include the value of an additional “half penny” on the tax rate to be dedicated to affordable housing in each of the next two fiscal years.
- Investment of local Housing Blueprint dollars to assist in financing new development and preservation efforts
- Expanded use of FCRHA Revenue Bonds to assist in financing new development and preservation projects
- Investment of federal funds from the Community Development Block Grant and HOME Investments Partnership Program to finance loans to private and nonprofit organizations to acquire and rehabilitate new and existing affordable housing
- Advancing the FCRHA’s role in community development
- The renovation of the Original Mount Vernon High School
- The development of a new domestic violence shelter in the southern part of Fairfax County
- The purchase and initial renovation/upgrades to the new Lee District Community Center
- Policy innovation
- The update of the county’s Workforce Dwelling Unit Policy to enhance the targeted affordability of homes for those households who need them the most
- The modernization of the county’s Accessory Living Unit Policy
- The completed recommendations of the Affordable Housing Preservation Task Force to guide the county’s efforts in meeting the Board’s admonition of “No Net Loss” of existing affordable housing
- The completion of the county’s housing continuum by adding the Office to Prevent and End Homelessness under the umbrella of the Department of Housing and Community Development
“When you look at the variety of projects, the availability of them, the quality of them that I know as a hallmark of the RHA, you can see where we are serious about providing affordable housing in all parts of the county in varieties that meet the needs of as many people as we possibly can,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay. “We see this as the beginning of a long streak of investments in affordable housing to meet our minimum goal of 5,000 units, for sure, but also looking at much more creative ways to expand affordable housing throughout the county.”
The opportunity of living in a home that is affordable is a critical component in achieving success in nearly every aspect of life – financial stability, social connectedness, academic development, and individual and community health and well-being. In order to continue advancing in the production and preservation of affordable housing, the FCRHA and the Board of Supervisors are committed to continuing innovation, the responsible investment and leveraging of county resources (financial and land), and the implementation of sound policies to guide that work.
In addition to the continued development of new affordable housing to meet and surpass the county’s housing goal, some other areas of opportunity that were identified in the discussion include:
- Helping residents build equity through homeownership
- Putting “choice” back in housing choice vouchers by enhancing the participating landlord network
- Preservation and protection of mobile home communities
- Continuing the work of One Fairfax by identifying and addressing housing disparities and gaps in service, as well as utilizing the FCRHA’s role in community development to make critical investments in communities of opportunity.