As a 20+ year resident of Arlington and an affordable housing developer, I am often asked by neighbors, “What does affordable housing mean?” often followed by, “How can we help?”
In stark terms, here’s an example of the “affordable”* housing situation. The average apartment rent in Arlington in 2018 was $1,918 per month.* Yet a minimum-wage working family would need to work 154 hours a week to rent a one-bedroom apartment in Arlington.
Many people in the private and public sectors are putting in the hard work to combat this situation. Unfortunately, we are falling short on own stated community goals of seeing 17% of our housing stock be affordable* by 2040. As of Fiscal Year 2018, we were closer to only 8.8% (or 10,200 units) of our 115,400 housing units being affordable.
So, to the question: how can “we” help? Arlington has the benefit of excellent planning, transportation, a supportive community, and economic prosperity that comes with being one of the nation’s top technology economies. If we harness innovation and hold ourselves accountable, we can pull the pieces together to make it happen.
What do bold steps and innovation look like?
In 2020, let’s seize this opportunity to create the tools and hold ourselves accountable to make sure we realize our vision of an Arlington where each person can live in dignity.
Carmen Romero is the Vice-President of Real Estate Development at the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing. She sits on the Board of the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization (CPRO) and the Virginia Latino Advisory Board and is also a member of the Urban Land Institute’s Affordable and Workforce Housing Council.
*Housing is considered affordable when rent or mortgage, plus utilities, is no more than 30% of a household’s gross income.
This content was originally published here.