Housing and Community Development

Fairfax County, Virginia

CONTACT INFORMATION: Our office is open 8AM-4:30PM M-F

703-246-5000
TTY 711

3700 Pender Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030

Tom Fleetwood,
HCD Director

Workforce Dwelling Unit Policy Task Force

Based on a recognized need and desire to evaluate the efficacy of the Workforce Dwelling Unit (WDU) policies, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors (Board) created the Workforce Dwelling Unit Policy Task Force in March 2019. The WDU Policy Task Force is composed of affordable housing advocates; representatives from the developer industry, Planning Commission and Redevelopment and Housing Authority; and Departments of Housing and Community Development and Planning staff.

WDU Task Force Charter
 

The Objective

The objective of the Task Force is to provide policy recommendations that will enable the WDU program to provide new units that allow for an affordability range in the County.  The Task Force is evaluating the market rate rents versus the 100% AMI and 120% AMI tiers and what policies would best provide an affordability range of new WDU units. The goal is to develop policy recommendations that provide a clear methodology for negotiating the total percentage of rental WDUs at appropriate income tiers for each new community subject to the WDU Policy. The recommendations may result in the amendment of the WDU Policies within the Comprehensive Plan.

Task Force Resources

WDU Policy Background

The Board adopted the Countywide and Tysons WDU Administrative Policy Guidelines (the WDU Policies) in 2007 and 2010 respectively. The Policies were originally designed to encourage the development of rental and for-sale units affordable to individuals and families with a wide range of income throughout the County. The Policy Guidelines provide an incentive system that encourages the voluntary development of rental and for-sale WDUs in the County’s high-density areas consistent with the Comprehensive Plan. 

In participating developments, the current WDU Policies create between 12 to 20 percent of total new units as rental WDUs. The WDU Policies allow a maximum density bonus of up to 20 percent. The density bonus means that in exchange for providing a certain number of WDU apartment units at lower rental rates, the developer is able to build more apartment units.  The developer is required to maintain these WDU apartments as affordable for 50 years.  The specific number of WDU units and the density bonus percentage are negotiated and implemented through a proffer.

The current Polices provide units for households earning up to 120 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI). However, in early 2019, the Board of Supervisors recognized that the 100% AMI and 120% AMI WDU rental unit rents were actually higher than the market rate rents.  Market rate rents are what apartment units without any rental restriction (like the WDU program requires) would cost in the general market.  This realization means that the WDU Policy as currently written is no longer adding to the affordability range of new units in the County.  

When the Policies were originally developed, market rate rents were considerably higher and having set aside WDU units at 100% and 120% AMI units ensured access to rental units affordable at various income levels.  In 2019, the Board of Supervisors established the Task Force to evaluate the Policies to ensure the WDU units provided would enable housing affordability in the County.

To date, the WDU Policies produced approximately 1,600 rental WDUs subject to a 50-year affordability period.

Task Force Meeting Summaries

Progress Summary

April 20, 2020 - The WDU Policy Task Force continues to examine the existing WDU Policies; market rate conflict and leasing challenges with the 100% AMI and 120% AMI units; and the affordable housing needs in Fairfax County. The Task Force is using program analysis and research from the Virginia Center for Housing Research to help formulate the to-be-developed policy recommendations. The Task Force continues to discuss the financial cost associated with delivering and managing units at the lower income tiers, as well as the density bonus that would offset costs.

The WDU Policy Task Force met since March 2019 to discuss policy options that would ensure housing affordability needed within Fairfax County. The group continues to work to achieve consensus regarding the policy recommendations intended for delivery to the Board of Supervisors by Summer 2020.

 

 

Remaining Project Schedule

  • April - May 2020: Task Force Meetings
  • June 30, 2020: Present to Board of Supervisors Housing Committee
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