Commentary, Local Commentary

Editorial: ‘Missing Middle’ Housing Is Needed

Unquestionably, the biggest issue to be addressed at the local level now is that of affordable housing, providing for enough of it to be available to anyone who wants or needs it. Those who resist such moves, in hopes of holding onto their single family home neighborhoods, for example, will find themselves having to step over thousands of homeless people resorting to makeshift, cardboard “Hooverville” dwellings the way some parts of the country already are.

Back during the last Great Depression, when millions of Americans were forced into homelessness and the president then, Herbert Hoover, deployed U.S. troops to break up rallies by tens of thousands of U.S. war veterans petitioning for their overdue bonuses, known as the “Bonus Army,” the result was a landslide election of his bitter foe, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in the first of four consecutive lopsided presidential elections.

Now, the U.S. is confronted with a similar crisis, one of homelessness in the face of the greatest period of prosperity in the nation’s history. Housing is not something that the federal government customarily addresses but it is left to local government to take up the issue. The best approach is to quietly and sanely make important strides toward availing everyone of a roof over their head. A nation that wants to call itself “great” cannot endure without providing the basics of food, medical care and housing to all of its citizens. Just as it is obscene how the prescription drug industry holds so many American seniors hostage to insanely expensive help (thank goodness President Biden’s anti-inflation law last week began to take up that issue), so it is that basic housing needs cannot be met for those millions among us who cannot afford its basic costs.

We know that the technologies are readily at hand to put “tiny houses” in place affordably for everybody with basic plumbing and electricity. Seeing it through needs legislative lift. We can hardly consider it anti-competitive to deny it to the most needy. If it helps one person get on his or her feet to make a positive contribution to society, then it will be a boon to us all.

Neighboring Arlington is facing a major dust-up over the issue of adopting so-called “missing middle” zoning to allow for more affordable housing options (like duplexes) within its single family home districts. We could not more strongly affirm the need for these new housing options, minimally so even school teachers and police officers can afford to live in the communities where they work, but insist the same kinds of changes are needed in Falls Church.

We encourage the Falls Church City Council to take the initiative here to set an example for our Arlington neighbors with decisive moves that will diversify the City’s housing stock. making it more affordable to thereby contribute to the City’s reputation as the most example-setting progressive community in the state and most desirable place to live, too.