Officials must address affordable housing issue

I want to thank The Free Lance–Star for its continuing editorial support for affordable housing in Planning District 16 [“ALICE needs helping hand, not a handout” June 23].

The dearth of affordable housing for working poor families in this district constitutes nothing less than a total political disregard for those families. Adding salt to the wound is any claim by local developers or politicians that recent or currently planned new construction apartments, much less single-family homes, are affordable.

Unless they mean affordable for families with a total annual household income of at least six figures. Our working poor families are well below that level of annual household income.

As noted in Sunday’s editorial, state and federal government can help address affordable housing, but local governments can and must be a large part of defining and implementing solutions to this issue.

Although not all inclusive, local governments could offer a combination of tax abatements and other tax incentives for developers, land owners and owners of apartment complexes; a density bonus for affordable housing; an accessory unit dwelling ordinance; expedited development and permitting reviews; and the establishment of a housing trust—either local or on a district-wide basis.

Local non-profit, non-partisan groups have been addressing this issue with the City Council and local county supervisors for the better part of two years. Briefs addressing the criticality of this issue and potential remedies have been presented to the same.

Area citizen letters to the editor, news articles and editorials in The Free Lance–Star have addressed affordable housing for the working poor. Local politicians cannot claim ignorance about this issue, but nothing seems to stir them from their slumber.

It is past time for them to lean into this issue.

I urge you to contact your city councilman or county supervisor and demand action. .

Bob Straight

Volunteer, Virginia Organizing


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