Affordable Housing

  • Alexandria is an expensive city to live in.  For older long term residents who own or rent and are on fixed incomes.  For younger newer residents moving to the city and trying to get established.  For everyone in between.  We need to make sure that Alexandria is able to maintain it’s vibrant, diverse population into the future.  It is our residents that make Alexandria such a fantastic place.

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.

Failed solutions

To date, the city has historically allowed over development in exchange for a few affordable units that, after a few years, revert back to market rate.  So in exchange for overdevelopment that exacerbates traffic problems and over-burdens city services and schools we get… nothing.

Now, the mayor wants to build affordable housing on school properties.  I am 100% against this idea.

Poorly implemented solutions

We did finally pass guidance to allow Accessory Dwelling Units on existing properties.  However, this was done with incentives to do so as separate structures.  Every new structure increases runoff and exacerbates the flooding we are already seeing throughout lower areas in Alexandria.

My proposal

I propose a public private partnership that would be similar to a co-op.  Using private investment to buy housing stock dedicated to affordable housing, I propose a beneficial corporation (a corporation that prioritizes all stakeholders, not just maximizing investor returns) that allows affordable housing tenants to share in the equity built through their rent payments and market value increases in the housing value.

Simply providing housing, while necessary, doesn’t help solve the root problem.  But by allowing those living in affordable housing to build equity over time, they would more easily be able to create generational wealth and ultimately to buy their own home and no longer need rely on affordable housing.