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Poll: How important is affordable housing investment to you?

ARHA and the City of Alexandria host a ribbon-cutting event for the Lineage, a new 52 unit affordable housing complex on North Patrick Street. (Staff Photo by Jay Westcott)

Over the next year, Alexandria will launch an ambitious affordable housing overhaul that could reshape the city’s zoning code with a renewed emphasis on affordable housing.

The overhaul is following in the footsteps of years of zoning reforms in Alexandria that aim to get developers to help produce more housing. The city is pushing for committed affordable housing units — buildings with residences set aside specifically for those making less than the area median income — to try and keep up with the loss of 14,300 market-rate affordable units over the last two decades.

In Alexandria, around 20% of households are paying over 30% of their income in housing, and around 10% are spending more than 50% on housing.

“Alexandria’s 2022 population is approximately 163,400 with approximately 71,500 households,” a report on the new overhaul said. “City and federal U.S. Census data documents 15,000 Alexandria households are paying more than the federal standard of 30 percent of income on housing. Additionally, nearly half of those households with incomes up to $50,000 are paying more than 50 percent of their income on housing.”

But affordable housing has also recently been pitted against other city interests. As the city works to make Old Town North into an arts district, trading density for a public art space is being offered in addition to trading density for affordable housing — though there are concerns that developers could choose to add arts uses in lieu of adding affordable housing.

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