Making Housing Affordable

I am all for making housing affordable for our residents who increasingly are being priced out of the City.

It’s part of my platform.

The City’s current approach, however, reminds me of a story from my professional career…

Years ago, I was a management consultant working with the City of Philadelphia on an assessment of their health department, which operated eight public health clinics. There were also a number of federally-funded clinics operating in the same areas.

My principal finding was that the city’s program was desperate for patients as they were competing with their federally-funded counterparts. So, they had resorted to seeing anyone at a city clinic without any requirement to prove residence or need. It was all being done to create the perception of high demand for clinical services, and to preserve the program’s funding level.

I was reminded of that story when I learned this week that Alexandria residents do not necessarily receive preferential treatment in affordable housing. While ARHA does favor local residents for public housing (for those under the poverty line), the City’s Affordable Housing program (for vulnerable people just above the poverty line) does not.

In its attempt to create the perception of infinite demand for affordable housing here, the Office of Housing markets to potential “customers” well outside of our city boundaries, while Fairfax County, for example, does not. Hence, a waiting list in the tens of thousands here.

When asked for the data on resident applicants or placements, the Office of Housing always refuses for “privacy” reasons. Hmmm.

This is absolutely the wrong way to address affordable housing in Alexandria, since serving “all comers” only leads to more development and greater density. It also does little to preserve the fabric of our community.

My plan is to focus on our own residents and those with a historical tie to the community, and let Fairfax County and other jurisdictions do the same.

As a member of your next City Council, I will ask the tough questions of city departments and insist on getting answers.

It’s time for a change!

Please support my campaign by voting for me now – since early voting has started – or on June 8th in the Democratic Party primary election.