September 16, 2016
Dear Chairperson Garvey and Members of the County Board:
CARD, the Coalition of Arlingtonians for Responsible Development, promotes the responsible development of Arlington County, to increase the quality of life for residents while promoting social and economic mobility. Responsible development includes the thoughtful placement of geographically distributed affordable housing, educational excellence for all, and shrinking the student achievement gap. CARD supports APAH’s request for AHIF funds in their proposed acquisition of extant Market Rate Affordable (‘MARK”) apartments in Westover.
This proposal by APAH is an excellent start to achieving affordable housing goals in Westover. Combined with the 33 apartments in four buildings known as Fisher House already in the Westover neighborhood, this new consolidated community will provide Westover with over 100 committed affordable apartments, and provide the excellent resident services for which APAH is known.
APAH’s request for AHIF funds is large – over $11 million. CARD believes that this investment should be made. Granting AHIF funds will help achieve the County’s short term affordable housing goals for the Westover area and help achieve the County’s long term goal of the Affordable Housing Master Plan.
Diversity and social/economic mobility are achieved through the thoughtful placement of affordable housing interspersed in higher income neighborhoods. Students from lower income families have a better opportunity to reach their full potential when they attend schools with students from higher income families while, at the same time, the academic achievement of students from higher income families is unaffected.
MARK units are usually located in less desirable neighborhoods with higher rates of poverty and schools with higher rates of students receiving free and reduced price meals, but these particular MARK units do not fit the standard pattern.
- The proposed acquisition is in census tract 1011, a census tract with only 2.3 % of households living below the poverty line. Note that the DC Metropolitan Area’s overall poverty rate is 8.7% and that Arlington County’s poverty rate is 9.4%. The census tract’s median income is $170,781, substantially higher than Arlington’s average median income.
- The proposed acquisition is within the McKinley school district. Only 6% of McKinley students are eligible for free and reduced price meals.
Kay Langenbeck Chair, CARD Housing Committee