Affordable housing is an important issue for me. I was able to buy my first home while in graduate school, for $50,000. That start allowed me to stop throwing money away on rent and benefit from the equity I was creating. Without that opportunity, I might still be renting today.
We have lost 90% of our affordable housing stock (housing targeting incomes of 30-90k). That is making our city unaffordable for many of our teachers, public safety workers, and our retail and restaurant workers — all important to making Alexandria a wonderful place to live.
In addition, I’m hearing from middle class Alexandrian’s that they’re being taxed out of the city. One single mother’s example was that her real-estate tax has gone up $320/month over the last three years. Another retired resident told me the city had started taxing the unbuildable lot next to her house at a rate as if it were buildable. The reason given? The city needs the money.
Although I was against the meals tax as a vehicle for funding affordable housing, particularly because it is completely unrelated to housing, I would like to see affordable housing funded through normal budgeting. If we can’t do that, we need to take a closer look at what we’re spending money on because we cannot just continue to raise taxes indefinitely.
In addition to helping to fund affordable housing developments, we can encourage more density in appropriate areas near transportation. This needs to be done in a way that addresses the other impacts it will have on the community.
We can also look at relaxing zoning laws to allow more density in neighborhoods that are amenable to that, by allowing homes to be built higher as well as allowing the building of tiny homes on existing properties. Doing so would give residents an income stream while providing more affordable units for people to live in. I’m also hearing that our overbearing approval process is adding to the situation. We need to streamline that process while still maintaining some control over development.
This is a tough problem as it is market forces causing this issue, but if we want to maintain an inclusive Alexandria for all of our residents it is one we should face head on. We should be open to