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Working Toward Fair Housing Arlington County’s FY 2019 Affordable Housing Annual Report

A Community that’s Equitable, Stable, and Adaptive

This year, the Affordable Housing Master Plan Annual Report explores the theme of “Working Toward Fair Housing,” reflecting Arlington’s goals of ensuring that “living in Arlington” is synonymous with an equitable, stable and adaptive community. As Arlington seeks creative and proactive solutions for the full spectrum of housing affordability, the stories of the residents whose lives are directly impacted by this work are more important than ever.

This Citizen Summary spotlights stories that help the goals of the Affordable Housing Master Plan (AHMP) come to life. The AHMP’s goals work together to ensure that there will be:

GOAL 1: SUPPLY

The first goal of the Affordable Housing Master Plan, to “produce and preserve a sufficient supply of affordable rental housing to meet current and future needs,” recognizes the need to produce new housing and preserve the affordability of existing housing. While balancing preservation and redevelopment can be challenging, Arlington County’s leadership understands both strategies are critical to maintaining Arlington’s unique history and character while supporting its economic growth and vibrancy. Most affordable housing developments also include a set aside of units for Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) for persons facing more severe challenges to housing stability. As part of the American Legion project that the County Board approved this year, the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH) has committed to provide 8 apartments as permanent supportive housing.

Spotlight on Supply: Permanent supportive housing for a chronically homeless client

Meet Ms. Martin – successfully housed and reconnected with family and employment with the help of nonprofit provider A-SPAN and the County’s Permanent Supportive Housing team! Ms. Martin spent years on the streets of Arlington, bouncing between friend’s basements, the street, and shelter. She first connected with A-SPAN in need of a meal, clean clothes, and shelter from a cold winter night, and was connected to programs and services available through the organization’s Permanent Supportive Housing Program. She soon found the security of having a place to call home, a bed to sleep in and a front door that locks. As she continues to work with her A-SPAN case manager and life skills coach, Ms. Martin has found stability, a sense of dignity, and a newfound purpose in life.

“A-SPAN changed my life,” says Ms. Martin. “I have a home, a kitchen table and a kitty play area.” Reconnected to the community, she now sees the possibility of seeing her family again and inviting them to her apartment for a home cooked dinner around her new kitchen table. Ms. Martin now works part time and enjoys the company of her cat and neighbors. She also is proud to have recently celebrated one year of being successfully housed, with no intentions of ever going back to life on the street.

GOAL 2: ACCESS

Housing supply alone does not address all the community’s housing needs. Additional barriers can result in families and individuals not being able to access housing, and low-income individuals and families are also particularly vulnerable to displacement. Through a range of strategies, Arlington supports residents and families from all walks of life to thrive and contribute to their neighborhoods.

Spotlight on Access: Supportive services for a struggling family

The Arlington Landlord Partnership brings together the County’s Housing Assistance Bureau, human services nonprofit agencies, local landlords and property managers. The goal of this partnership is to increase the availability of rental housing for homeless individuals and families with high leasing barriers. Such leasing barriers often include poor credit, evictions and criminal history. Since the partnership’s Risk Reduction Fund was launched in 2017, the program has enabled 68 households with leasing barriers obtain housing. James and Kim’s experience provide one example of how this partnership has made a difference.

James and Kim with their three children ages six, two and eight months, had lived chaotically before placement at a motel by Offender Aid and Restoration (OAR). James had spent several years in prison and was recently released from jail. Kim was diagnosed with multiple mental health issues. During the family’s first week in shelter, she had thoughts of harming herself and was admitted to the hospital. James became overwhelmed with caring for the children and working full time as a cook in a local restaurant. The Family Home team worked with him to identify natural supports that could provide childcare. After Kim was able to return to her family, she was referred to Arlington County’s Department of Human Services for therapy and medication management. With the help of Doorways staff, she applied for disability benefits. . James and Kim began working with the Financial Counselor to develop a budget. After three months in the program, the family was accepted into the Doorways HomeStart program and successfully moved into their own apartment.

GOAL 3: SUSTAINABILITY

In order to support long-term community stability, Arlington has developed policies to protect its investments in affordable housing. These include strategies to maintain physical stock, promote environmentally sustainable and transit oriented planning, ensure long-term affordability and financial feasibility of its housing portfolio, and encourage housing goals to be integrated as part of other County plans and policies.

Sustainable buildings are good for the environment and for people too.

Spotlight on Sustainability: Energy efficiency in new construction of affordable housing

Energy and water efficient affordable housing has the double benefit of contributing to Arlington’s Community Energy Plan goals and providing a better living environment and lower utility bills for residents.

The Carlin: EarthCraft Multifamily

The renovation of the Carlin will meet EarthCraft Multifamily green building standards, which will save energy and water and improve indoor air quality. In addition, the developer is installing ENERGY STAR products to ensure energy efficient equipment for heating and cooling, as well as energy efficient lighting and appliances.

Queen's Court: EarthCraft Gold

The Queen's Court development will be certified EarthCraft Gold, which will help to advance the goals of the Community Energy Plan and encourage water conservation.

American Legion: EarthCraft Gold and ENERGY STAR Multifamily High Rise

The American Legion project will pursue EarthCraft Gold and ENERGY STAR Multifamily High Rise certifications. The project will also include ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager reporting for 10 years, in furtherance of the County’s Community Energy Plan goals and AHMP policy of encouraging energy and water conservation in affordable housing.