Housing and Neighborhood Livability

Community Outcome Area: Housing and Neighborhood Livability

Fairfax County is a place where all people live in communities that foster safe, enjoyable and affordable living experiences.

 

 

 

 

Reasonably priced housing and healthy, livable communities are critical to ensure a sustained high quality of life for the residents of Fairfax County. While no single action can fulfill the expectations of residents for affordable, connected, safe and walkable neighborhoods with necessary amenities, the proposed strategies in this section seek to promote equitable access to affordable housing, community assets and a variety of transportation options. The county is also focused on addressing the needs of people experiencing homelessness and those who require short-term emergency shelter.

The county must also find a balance between the desire to protect and preserve existing neighborhoods and buildings and to revitalize older business districts, while also building vibrant new mixed-use urban centers. It is also critical to carefully consider the environmental impacts of development and to ensure that any potential stressors are eliminated or mitigated in alignment with Fairfax County environmental policies and practices.

Implementation of the proposed strategies in this section will also be fully aligned with the actions outlined in the Community-wide Housing Strategic Plan.

Challenge Questions

  1. How can we encourage developers and builders (for-profit and non-profit, faith-based landowners, etc.) to increase the amount of affordable housing and create a broad range of housing options while maintaining the quality and desirability of built communities, both new and redeveloped?
  2. How can we support both re-development and preservation, so that housing and neighborhoods maintain the residents and the desired features/elements, while addressing evolving wants and needs?
  3. In light of the projected aging of our community, how can we ensure that all older adults have the livability resources to age in their community or otherwise stay within the county?
  4. How can we encourage healthy placemaking and, subsequently, healthy living without homogenizing, while continuing to welcome new residents of different ages, family status and economic status and ensuring the availability of desired housing?
  5. How can we provide a framework that allows: a) higher density development where it is most appropriate (e.g., near transit) and b) thoughtful transitions to less densely developed areas, while promoting the delivery of affordable units?
  6. How can we support the creation/evolution of communities where people can live, work and play, so that residents can reduce their reliance on cars and walk, bike or take transit more frequently? What can we do to incentivize living near work?
  7. How can we better respond to the need for transitional housing for those who are experiencing homelessness or require near-term shelter?
  8. How can we ensure more residents have access to the many livability and affordable housing resources available in the county (transit, public facilities, housing voucher programs, etc.)?
  9. How can we establish and integrate permanent supportive housing (housing with services to support residents facing vulnerabilities) into neighborhoods and communities for those who need it?

Indicators

  • Affordable and Quality Housing
  • Adequate Quantity and Availability of Housing
  • Access to Amenities that Promote Healthy Neighborhoods
  • Flexibility and Adaptability of Land Use Rules
  • Preventing and Ending Homelessness

Proposed Strategies

These proposed strategies were developed based on the extensive background work completed by the Countywide Strategic Planning Teams. The Board will determine which strategies will be pursued, as well as when they might be undertaken. This process will be highly flexible and will adapt to respond to community conditions as they evolve over time.

Affordable and Quality Housing

  • HNL 3. Encourage mixed-income and diverse types of housing developments near transit hubs, transit routes and revitalization areas that meet affordability requirements for a range of income levels, especially units large enough to accommodate families.
  • HNL 6. Expand innovative land development solutions, such as by-right accessory dwelling units, home sharing, co-housing and smaller lot sizes, while incentivizing first floor, or entry floor living, universal design and energy efficiency.
  • HNL 7. Expand the home repair program for older adults and ensure tax assistance programs keep pace with those improvements to help maintain quality, affordable housing for the aging population.
  • HNL 8. Explore policies to moderate rent increases, including a rental stabilization program and a homestead requirement, so that all income levels can afford to live in Fairfax County.
  • HNL 16. Explore innovative and sustainable funding sources to develop a rental grant program that assists working households who may not be eligible for federal assistance.
  • HNL 18. Establish a housing assistance fund to provide resources for people to acquire housing, such as money for required deposits.

Adequate Quantity and Availability of Housing 

  • HNL 1. Produce, preserve and improve affordable housing units through partnerships with traditional and innovative housing developers consistent with the recommendations in county policies and plans. Track new units, lost units and total units as a means of measuring the preservation of affordable units in the county.
  • HNL 2. Identify and create opportunities for additional affordable rental and homeownership units, including modifying housing policies, guidance, and communication strategies for people facing barriers (low to moderate incomes, credit problems, past criminal history or prior evictions) in order to make a variety of housing program options accessible to all residents.
  • HNL 4. Identify and execute creative opportunities to develop affordable housing throughout the county and especially in revitalization areas, including flexible criteria for accessory dwelling units, building reuse and repurposing and establishing community land trusts in communities that feature mobility options and walkable neighborhood amenities.
  • HNL 5. Leverage county/school/park/private business land and facilities (existing and new) and develop non-traditional partnerships to achieve efficiencies to produce more units.
  • HNL 17. Seek ways to finance development in nontraditional ways, such as venture capital investments, partnerships with large corporate employers, and faith-based and non-profit communities.

Flexibility and Adaptability of Land Use Rules

  • HNL 9. Encourage adoption of a countywide proffer policy to include contributions from job-generating commercial and other nonresidential developments for use in affordable housing production.
  • HNL 10. Encourage the study and potential adoption of an ordinance, pursuant to state code, to enable transfer of development rights to increase affordable housing development.
  • HNL 11. Update codes, regulations, policies and procedures related to land and housing development to reduce administrative costs for affordable housing providers, keep pace with national and regional trends, and improve review quality and efficiency.
  • HNL 12. Conduct regular updates to the affordable dwelling unit and workforce dwelling unit policies based on the changing market, affordability and building trends in the county, and communicate any updates or changes to the public as part of an outreach and education effort.
  • HNL 13. Develop a proactive rental inspection program that includes landlord licensing and property registration to ensure quality of all rental properties.
  • HNL 19. Identify areas of the county with the greatest presence of community amenities, including transit, retail, recreation, arts and human services providers, and then revise zoning and other policies to allow for an increase in the number of housing units affordable to low and moderate income and senior households in those areas.

Preventing and Ending Homelessness

  • HNL 14. Expand the availability of permanent supportive housing units and services for people experiencing homelessness, including both individuals and families.
  • HNL 15. Provide incentives so that nonprofit and for-profit housing developers and landlords will set aside units for people experiencing homelessness.

Access to Amenities that Promote Healthy Neighborhoods

  • HNL 20. Encourage and enhance a sense of place, with a special focus on revitalization areas, by establishing community gathering spaces and by analyzing where people are underserved by community amenities and business services and providing information and support to businesses to locate in those areas.
  • HNL 21. Link the county’s public health and equity agenda to a public space agenda by updating the Comprehensive Plan to create healthier environments where access to basic needs, transit, affordable housing and healthy food is available.
  • HNL 22. Increase walkable access to park entrances, facility entrances or trailheads so that residents have no more than a 10-minute walk to nature and recreational experiences. Prioritize implementation of this strategy in areas with disparate health and equity outcomes.
  • HNL 23. Expand the Fairfax County Active Transportation Plan to prioritize the quality and consistency of neighborhood connectivity (e.g., sidewalks and multi-use paths, with an emphasis on those that are lighted) and select implementation areas based on equity and health measures.
     

Sample Metrics

Indicator: Affordable and Quality Housing
Metrics:

  • % of households that spend greater than 30% and greater than 50% of their income on housing
  • # of net new housing units added that are affordable to households earning 60% of the Area Median Income and that are directly attributable to a county government policy, program or subsidy
  • % of county renters who report their rent increased more than 3% over last year in the same place of residence
  • % of eligible first-time homebuyers who receive financial assistance for a down payment or closing costs
  • % of residents rating the quality of their housing as safe and decent

Indicator: Adequate Quantity and Availability of Housing
Metrics:

  • % of all approved and % of all newly constructed housing units in the county that are multi-unit
  • # of new accessory dwelling units established in the county
  • # of new affordable dwelling units and workforce dwelling units constructed
  • % of older adults and residents with disabilities who report they are able to stay in their preferred community
  • # of older adults who seek to relocate to an affordable assisted living facility in Fairfax County but are unable to do so
  • % of new housing permits submitted that meet universal design and/or single-floor living standards
  • # of acres of land and # of housing units dedicated to the county Redevelopment and Housing Authority or a community land trust for permanent affordable housing

Indicator: Access to Amenities that Promote Healthy Neighborhoods
Metrics:

  • % of county residents who live within a mile of a transit stop and a fresh food option
  • % of residents living within a half-mile walk to a park entrance or a recreational facility
  • # of linear feet of dedicated sidewalks and multi-use paths
  • % of residents who report being actively engaged in their community (for example, volunteering, participating in community activities or having a membership in local organizations)

Indicator: Flexibility and Adaptability of Land Use Rules
Metris:

  • % of land use permit and plan applicants whose interaction with the Fairfax County Government process and staff meets or exceeds their expectations for timeliness and customer service
  • % of residents who feel they have the opportunity to meaningfully participate in the land development process
  • % of acreage in Fairfax County zoned to a mixed-use district

Indicator: Preventing and Ending Homelessness
Metrics:

  • # of individuals experiencing homelessness, sheltered and unsheltered
  • Ratio of # of homeless shelter beds to # of people experiencing homelessness
  • # of permanent supportive housing units (or beds)
  • % of households in shelters who move to permanent affordable housing
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