F.C. Council Remains Sharply Split On New Affordable Housing Policy

Two elements of the City of Falls Church’s draft new affordable housing policy statement remained hotly disputed despite a very lengthy discussion at tonight’s City Council work session, and the unresolved difference are now slated to spill over into next Monday’s Council business meeting when the matter will come to a formal vote for adoption.

The City staff recommended language that there be no specified preference for the kind of affordable housing the policy would favor after a series of responses from public organizations were received. Half of the Council, including Mayor Nader Baroukh, wanted language inserted indicating a preference for “scattered” as opposed to “stand alone” affordable housing units.

But tonight the “preference” language was penciled back in by Baroukh and in response to angry and animated comments from Councilman Ira Kaylin, Seeking the non-preferential language were Councilmen David Tartar and Phil Duncan, and while Vice Mayor David Snyder was opposed to it in principal, he said he could live with the language. Councilman Ron Peppe was absent.

Members of the Citizen Task Force that authored the policy document were in attendance, and Ronald Broussard spoke from the audience saying that in accordance with widely-adopted “best practices” policies for addressing the needs of a community’s underprivileged, “stand alone” projects are preferable for their capacity to provide resources that people need in the same structure.

The Council also sparred over the issue of whether or not the policy document should commit the City to an annual revenue stream to support the achievement of its affordable housing goals. Kaylin, again, angrily rejected the notion, and while compromise language was hammered out to read that the Council “should consider dedicating sustainable annual revenue” to the affordable housing fund, there were no dollar amounts suggested.

In another new modification to the policy crafted by its task force, the inclusion of “work force housing” options were added, which would be housing for persons earning 80 to 120 percent of the federal Housing and Urban Development’s area median income, on condition that the cost of the housing, including utilities, is no more than 30 percent of gross income.