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Proponents for Preservation are Poised for Productivity


The Affordable Housing Preservation Task Force launched a power-packed, fast-paced work schedule to provide recommendations that will preserve the county’s existing portfolio of market affordable and committed affordable housing. Under the leadership of Co-Chairs Melissa McKenna (Vice Chair, Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority) and Walter Clarke (Commissioner, Fairfax County Planning Commission) the task force has formulated a 5-month work schedule to gather information, review data and formulate policy recommendations that will help achieve the Board of Supervisors commitment to “No Net Loss” of existing affordable homes.

“I am very pleased that the work of the Affordable Housing Preservation Task Force is well underway.  It’s a great team of experts committed to providing the Board of Supervisors with a set of strategic recommendations for one of the most critical challenges our community is facing – the loss of our existing stock of affordable housing,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay.   

During the task force’s initial meeting, the group undertook several key procedural measures – including adoption of the official Charter and a reaffirmation of the principles and recommendations incorporated in the Communitywide Housing Strategic Plan – and received an in-depth presentation relative to One Fairfax, the County’s racial and social equity policy.

“With the abbreviated timeframe to get this work done, it was imperative for the task force to get off to a very productive and energetic start,” said Co-chair Melissa McKenna. "The presentation by our Chief Equity Officer was extremely helpful in considering critical questions we should be asking to apply an equity lens to this work or preservation – which is of critical importance when considering our pursuit of One Fairfax.”

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Market affordable” homes are those considered to be affordable to households earning 60 percent of the area median income (AMI) or below – about $75,000 or less per year for a family of four. The county’s stock of “market affordable” rental homes faces three critical pressures:

  • Redevelopment of older apartment complexes

  • The renovation and/or “repositioning” of previously affordable properties

  • Household incomes are not able to keep pace with the increases in rent

In considering the make-up of the team and the potential workgroups that will be required to achieve such a broad reaching topic, the task force also organized a special group to consider recommendations regarding the preservation of mobile home communities in the County.

The Preservation Task Force is expected to complete its work during the first quarter of 2021. Expected work products will include:

  • Definitions for the types of preservation that can occur in communities

  • Typology of properties at risk and characteristics to guide prioritizing properties or neighborhoods in need of action sooner

  • A comprehensive set of preservation strategies the includes recommended policies and tools to achieve the goal of no net loss of affordability

“Over the past several months, we have seen just how critical access to a safe, decent and affordable home can be,” said task force Co-Chair Walter Clarke. “With so many of our neighbors fighting each day just to keep a decent roof over their heads, we should be fighting just as hard to preserve every affordable housing option we have to ensure those opportunities for the long term. I am thrilled by the enthusiasm, expertise, and pure grit of this group to undertake such an essential task in such an aggressive timeframe.”

The Preservation Task Force Website will be regularly updated with meeting summaries, recordings, presentation materials and other updates pertaining to its ongoing work. Additionally, residents may submit comments to the task force for their consideration and subscribe to receive periodic email communications as the work progresses.

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