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Affordable Housing Org Urges ‘No’ Vote on Housing Referendum

By Ethan Rothstein

Monday - 9/23/2013, 10:30am  ET

The Alliance for Housing Solutions is asking Arlington residents to vote against the referendum to create a housing authority on November’s ballot.

The AHS, an Arlington-based nonprofit “working to increase the supply of affordable housing in Arlington County and Northern Virginia through research, public education, and advocacy,” doesn’t believe that the housing authority the referendum would form would benefit the community.

AHS issued the following statement about the referendum:

The Alliance for Housing Solutions is urging Arlington voters to reject the proposed Redevelopment and Housing Authority referendum that is on the ballot this November. Arlington faces significant challenges to housing affordability. However,  AHS believes that an Authority would not solve this problem and would, in fact, have a negative impact.

“Arlington has long used an innovative public, private, & non-profit partnership approach to the creation and management of affordable housing in our community,” said AHS President Mary Margaret Whipple. “This successful approach has allowed Arlington to access financial tools and state and federal funding in order to create mixed-income communities, while avoiding the costs of running a housing authority.”

Using this highly successful strategy, Arlington has created more affordable housing units per 1,000 people than any other county in Northern Virginia, including those with housing authorities.  It also is the only jurisdiction in Virginia to offer County-funded rental assistance through the Housing Grants program.

“As they have twice before, Arlington voters should reject the Redevelopment and Housing Authority referendum,” Whipple added.  “A new authority would not increase the availability of affordable housing units, and would actually stall progress by pitting a housing authority against our highly successful non-profits for the same funding.”

AHS urged a broader community dialogue about the critical need for affordable housing. By working together, especially through the Affordable Housing Study process, supporters of affordable housing can work together to find solutions and raise awareness.

“There are no easy solutions,“ said AHS Executive Director Mary Rouleau.  “As a community we must be willing to consider, for example, putting affordable units on public land and increased density along transit routes.”

AHS released a Question-and-Answer document, responding to the key positions of the housing authority backers.  It can be found on its website: AllianceforHousingSolutions.org