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New report examines progress on Alexandria’s housing and tourism goals

A new report, prepared for a City Council meeting tomorrow (Wednesday), looks back at the progress made on several priorities adopted earlier this year, from pandemic recovery to housing.

The mulit-part update tackles a dozen community-welfare topics identified as a priority early in 2022, with each of those broken down into a look at progress on individual initiatives. While some have been fully completed, others are still in their early stages.

Each item in the report has a percentage completed next to it. For pandemic recovery, the two items listed as fully complete involve creating out to more Spanish language and Black communities for tourism and investing more heavily in tourism overall.

For the first of those initiatives, the report said Alexandria plans to continue diversifying it’s tourism efforts over the next few years.

“The supplementary media buy to stimulate recovery was fully implemented,” the report said. “We invested $410,000 in new digital advertising to increase overall awareness, expand to more diverse audiences and sustain new regional market share garnered during the pandemic. We also developed new advertising creative with the ‘Drop In’ campaign to welcome audiences of color. We also expect this new creative to support our expanded marketing efforts in the next several years.”

Another nearly completed area in the pandemic recovery section emphasized working with Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) to expand mental health resources in schools.

The report said mental health professionals have been added to schools and the city worked with ACPS this summer on refining the referral process, mental health trends and more.

Other initiatives, particularly aspects focusing on small business recovery, are still in the nascent stages.

Progress was a little more behind in the housing section, where one of the listed goals was “provide diverse housing options at a variety of price points to support a thriving and inclusive Alexandria.”

The report listed the accessory dwelling unit and bonus height ordinance changes earlier this year as positive steps forward. Other parts of that work are still in progress. One of the big items is a Housing Master Plan update scheduled for FY 2024 that city staff is already starting prep work for. In the shorter term, an update on affordable housing funding is expected to come before the City Council later this fall.

The full report is available on the city website and is docketed for discussion at the meeting tomorrow.