N. Va. Affordable Housing Evaporating, Study Says

Almost half of the current 25,000 privately-owned market rate affordable housing units (known as MARKS) are expected to evaporate under pressures of new and redevelopment in the Alexandria to Columbia Pike to Bailey’s Crossroads areas of Northern Virginia, a startling study issued by the Northern Virginia Affordable Housing Alliance (NVAHA) this week projects.

The alliance report calls for “aggressive planning to preserve” the more than 11,500 MARKS units that exist in the area. NVAHA executive director Michelle Krocker noted, “Northern Virginia has lost tens of thousands of affordable housing units in the past decade. We also haven’t created very much rental housing overall, so preservation of existing stock and existing capacity is key.”

Falls Church affordable housing advocate Carol Jackson, speaking at the monthly luncheon meeting of the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce Tuesday, waved a copy of the report, and cautioned the business leaders that this study indicates the ability of the region to retain a workforce to buoy its existing and new commercial enterprises is seriously threatened by this trend.

Stewart Schwartz, executive director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth, said in a statement, “If we want to continue to attract economic development opportunities to Northern Virginia, we need a range of housing options for all members of our workforce.”