Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Makes a Down Payment on New Resources for Affordable Housing in Fiscal Year 2020 Budget
On May 7, 2019, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors adopted the Fairfax County budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020. The budget makes a significant down payment on additional resources for affordable housing that were recommended by the Board’s Affordable Housing Resources Panel (AHRP). Highlights from the FY 2020 budget include:
One-time funding of $5 million is included as part of the FY 2019 Third Quarter Review to add to the nearly $10 million already allocated for the Housing Blueprint for FY 2020. The addition of this $5 million means that about $15 million will be available in FY 2020, effectively doubling the investment in FY 2019.
A Housing in All Policies Coordinator is added to the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) in FY 2020. This new position will act as a liaison between HCD and the county’s land use and development agencies, coordinating with them on housing projects and monitoring progress of the AHRP’s recommendations.
“In adopting the Fiscal Year 2020 Budget, the Board of Supervisors built upon the affordable housing efforts we began in FY 2006 with the creation of the Penny for Affordable Housing Fund,” Board Chairman Sharon Bulova said. “That program produced significant, measurable results, helping to preserve more than 3,000 affordable housing units. With the adoption of the FY 2020 Budget, we will significantly expand upon that success in ensuring both the preservation and expansion of affordable housing options for our residents in a proven, cost-effective manner.”
Supervisor Jeff McKay (Lee District), Chairman of the Board’s Budget Committee, also commented on the budget and on the work of the AHRP: “Our comprehensive actions as part of the Fiscal Year 2020 Budget represent the continuation of the Board of Supervisors’ longtime support for providing those who live and work in Fairfax County with affordable housing options. It’s imperative as we move forward that we continue to find as many ways possible to preserve and increase our affordable housing stock here in Fairfax County. In Lee District, we’ve seen many affordable housing preservation initiatives come to life like Huntington Gardens and Murraygate Village, while working to increase affordable units as well. Recognizing the ongoing challenges rising housing costs represent, the Board established a panel of community experts to provide recommendations for furthering our affordable housing efforts, and their results helped form the basis of the inclusive, holistic, long-term approach to affordable housing we adopted. As Budget Chair, I’ll continue to find ways we can continue to make affordable housing a priority of the Board in future budgets.”
In addition to the additional resources provided for in FY 2020, the Board also directed staff to take several steps to create the capacity for new affordable housing production, including the transfer of properties appropriate for affordable housing as soon as possible. A first step is the transfer of the West Ox/Route 50 property in Sully District.
“The Board of Supervisors' adoption of the Fiscal Year 2020 Budget will have a profoundly positive affect on the county's ability to partner with the private sector in significantly expanding the development of critically needed affordable housing,” remarked Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority (FCRHA) Chairman Robert Schwaninger. “The Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority anticipates that the additional funding will greatly enhance our successful use of existing resources to provide gap financing to affordable housing developers and will greatly assist Fairfax County in meeting and perhaps exceeding our affordable housing production goal.”
Recognizing that the approach to developing affordable housing is not limited to funding, the Board directed staff to take the following additional actions:
Focus on all strategic goals identified by the AHRP;
Identify a plan that identifies the equivalent of one additional cent on the Real Estate Tax (in addition to the current half-penny) to assist in the production of at least 5,000 new affordable units over the next 15 years using public resources;
Maintain the existing half-penny for preservation of existing affordable housing;
Develop a package of innovative land use policies to further facilitate the development of affordable housing beyond the stated goal of 5,000 units and include the identification of additional investments in staff resources to facilitate these options;
Explore all opportunities to better utilize public space in the county in support of the goal of developing affordable housing, including prioritizing the exploration of opportunities with other entities, such as houses of worship, and public private partnership options;
Ensure that affordable housing has a prominent place in the Board’s legislative program and promote community awareness of affordable housing needs and opportunities; and
Provide the Board with a plan to respond to all of the recommendations of the AHRP in the Fall of 2019.
In remarking on the actions taken by the Board of Supervisors, Sharisse Yerby, At-Large Commissioner for the FCRHA stated, “The increased funding and land use tools approved by the Board of Supervisors will go a long way to better serving Fairfax’s low- and moderate-income families and individuals currently struggling with the high cost of housing in the region. Greater affordable housing production is essential in assisting Fairfax residents burdened by unaffordable rents and ensuring that all Fairfax residents have an opportunity to live in safe, affordable homes.”