Letters to the Editor: July 29 – August 4, 2021
Use Federal Funds To Build Affordable Housing for Families In Need
As you reported last week, both Virginia and Falls Church city must now decide priorities for one-time expenditure projects to be funded from the American Rescue Plan (ARPA). Virginia will receive some $4.3 billion and Falls Church City around $15 million. I write to support a transformational investment in affordable housing proposed by VOICE (Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement).
After four months of study, VOICE urges that at least 10 percent of Virginia’s share, $430 million, be used to produce affordable housing for families with incomes below 30 percent of area median income (AMI). This amount could create over 6,000 affordable units across the Commonwealth.
The need for such housing is immense. In 2018, 70 percent of Virginia’s 246,000 extremely-low-income renters paid more than half of their income for rent, and there was an overall shortage of almost 160,000 units affordable to them.
With Covid, the situation has only worsened since then. VOICE asks that we send hundreds of emails to Governor Northam supporting this urgently needed proposal before the special session of the General Assembly opens on August 2.
I was a housing economist at HUD who documented the U.S. growth in families with such severe rent burdens from 2.5 million in 1978 to 3.6 million in 1999 before I retired. But since 2000, that number had surged to 7.3 million in 2015. I therefore strongly endorse VOICE’s recommendation and urge everyone concerned about affordable housing to email Governor Northam.
Kathryn P. Nelson
Appreciation for Walt Whitman/Falls Church Historical Connection
Thanks for the Walt Whitman poem and question whether this could have been referencing our historic Falls Church. Being both a Civil War and Walt Whitman enthusiast, I’ll leave that question to the scholars. But what did strike me is how relevant this is to our times as I think of all the hospital wards filled with Covid patients, exhausted doctors and nurses, grieving families and dying words.
I’m glad I live in this century and not the past, but we still are dealing with life and death situations of our own making or those of a virulent virus. It gives me pause.
Laurie B. Hall