credit: Northern Virginia Housing Alliance

The Northern Virginia Affordable Housing Alliance (NVAHA) released a new report outlining policy recommendations to expand and protect existing low-income housing from being squeezed out as property values continue to rise in the area. The group specifically mentioned the announcement of Amazon’s “HQ2” in Crystal City as a reason these problems could continue to worsen. 

“How we move forward with appropriate growth that ensures economic vitality and extends opportunities to those who have not benefited in the past will be our challenge,” NVAHA says. 

The report, called Building Northern Virginia’s Future: Policies to Create a More Affordable, Equitable Housing Supply, says the growth of high-wage households has caused an increasingly expensive and competitive housing market. 

The proposals put forward in the report focus on rezoning neighborhoods and making new construction easier. They point to restrictive zoning laws, and their historical use for racial segregation, as the cause of the price barrier to these neighborhoods.  The report says opening these neighborhoods to multi-family homes or accessory buildings is a means of increasing the number of affordable options in these areas. 

The report also points out the need to improve transportation infrastructure alongside new housing. “To build public trust and prevent a deterioration in quality of life, jurisdictions must demonstrate that they can effectively accommodate growth,” the report says. This includes increased bus service, improved public transit, and ways to handle larger numbers of students in area schools that come with increased development and housing density.