In a recent Arlington Mercury New article on the proposed housing authority, County Board member Jay Fisette said, “…we (Arlington) have the most successful housing program in Virginia by far..” (Natalie Kornicks, “HUD Funds for Housing Are Availalbe, But Worth It?,” Arlington Mercury.org, Mar. 4, 2013). http://arlingtonmercury.org/
The most successful housing assistance program in Virginia in Arlington? Well, No. If one uses actual economic data and facts to compare jurisdictions on their rental housing affordability, Arlington has the one of the worst housing program in the State of Virginia, and among the worst in the Metro DC area. Arlington today has the least affordable rental housing in the entire state of Virginia and in the Metro DC area (except for the City of Alexanria), far worse than Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William or the City of Falls Church, and far worse than the statewide average.
The Va Tech Center for Housing Research reports an overall index of affordable rental housing for all jurisdictions in Virginia: Arlington’s index for rental housing affordability is 33.2 (the higher the index the more expensive is the housing); the index for Fairfax County is 28.8, City of Falls Church 23.0, and the overall index for the Metro Washington DC statistical area is 31.5. Only the City of Alexandria is more expensive than Arlington at 34.8. Arlington is considerably more expensive than the Virginia average of 26.0.
Arlington does spend lots of money–$47 million annually ($28 million from local taxes and $19 million in HUD funds). But its housing assistance program is fragmented, disjointed and unsuccessful in meeting goals set to measure its progress. One modest goal was to add 400 subsidized apartments annually to offset the loss of about 1,000 private apartments lost to affordable rents every year. The county housing program has met that goal perhaps once in the past ten years. Arlington current housing program is a failure if one uses the County Board’s own adopted goals that Fisette himself approved.