DC DEVELOPMENT(S): AFFORDABLE HOUSING ATOP THE METRO

It’s not hush-hush, in fact it’s pretty common knowledge: living in and around the District is pricey. Whether you’re on top of the world in terms of finances, or barely scraping by, the housing here is a hot commodity, and the truth is that we need more affordable housing.

Alexandria, Virginia – a little over 8-miles from the pocket of the metro DC area – was once an option for those who needed access to the city but wanted more affordable housing options. And yet, the times have changed. According to Curbed, less than 6 percent of Alexandria’s available housing qualifies as affordable. Not to mention:

“Furthermore, 9 percent of the city’s disappeared between 2000 and 2017. Before, the inventory was 18,218 units. Now, the inventory is 1,749 apartments.”

Now, I’m by no stretch of the imagination a math person , but even I can deduce that’s a huge step in the wrong direction. Thus, the enormous task of stopping this trend in its tracks and turning it right ‘round the other direction has fallen upon the local community – and, as they often do, the community has some ideas.

One of the major players in this conversation is a non-profit named the Virginians Organization for Interfaith Community Engagement. VOICE is a unique collection of 2,500 leaders that have formed a non-partisan alliance. According to their website, they have specifically come together to:

“…unite again across racial, religious, ethnic, income, and partisan lines to declare that it’s time to deliver on the promise of living in Northern Virginia – housing affordability, good public schools, safe and just communities, and respect for one another and for the diversity that is the foundation for a New Dominion and that powers a strong economy with opportunities for all.”

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With all of those powerful words strung together, it’s no wonder that this Justice League-esque group is willingly stepping up to bat for the cause of affordable housing. What’s their secret weapon though? As revealed earlier this month, when the group submitted a $1 billion proposal to the Alexandria City Council for some work on the local transit agency, it might be affordable housing situated on Metro property.

In the past, public land has been sold off in order to relive budget issues – VOICE sees this is an opportunity to create affordable housing near public transportation hubs – something that would be largely beneficial to the community as a whole. As reported by WAMU:

“VOICE is calling for Metro to commit land specifically for developers to build affordable housing units. Setting aside the land might require Metro to work with private developers to build the homes, or have developers build on top of the rail stations themselves. Metro board member Christian Dorsey said the activists’ plan to build more affordable housing in Alexandria is ‘spot on,’ but he questioned Metro’s ability to get that done.”

It’s not likely that VOICE will let Metro slide by with a simple excuse – the group has fought uphill battles before, and won. Affordable housing is their game, and they’re in it to win it. Now, let’s all cheer them on…

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