Arlington Greens at their December and January meetings voted to support a voters referendum to allow a new housing authority to operate in Arlington County, as authorized under Virginia law. In 2008, Greens got a similar referendum on the ballot and about two-thirds of voters approved the housing group, despite vigorous opposition from Democrats and Republicans.
The loss of affordable housing has reached epic proportions. The Arlington County Board acknowledges that roughly two-thirds of the affordable rental units in the county have been lost to gentrification and redevelopment over the past ten years, and that the county has failed to meet its own adopted goals.
It’s been five years since the last referendum, and Arlington Greens have decided to go at it again. The recent acrimonious split among the five current board members over designating a fixed portion of higher tax revenues from the Columbia Pike redevelopment area to affordable housing shows new policy tools are needed. It’s time for Arlington voters to have a say in this matter: that is what democracy is all about.
It is going to be difficult to get the nearly 3,000 signatures required (versus for example fewer than 200 required to run for most local offices). However, we believe that majority of Arlington residents support affordable housing programs and want better outcomes than our current pattern of gentrification, and want a robust debate for better ideas for better programs that a housing authority referendum would bring.