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With a potential wave of evictions incoming next month, a group representing tenants of Southern Towers is trying to indirectly pressure the building’s owner into giving residents a reprieve.

The 2,261-unit Southern Towers complex at 4901 Seminary Road is one of the last bastions of market-rate affordable housing — housing that’s affordable without being set at a certain level by agreement with the local government. The West End building was purchased in 2020 by California-based real estate company CIM Group.

While there were some eviction protections put in place during the pandemic, CIM Group still pursued eviction proceedings against some residents, and tenant advocacy group African Communities Together has expressed concerns those evictions could escalate now that Virginia Rent Relief Program (RRP) has closed its application process.

The RRP was created during the pandemic to keep families in place as job loss impacted local residents’ ability to pay rent. But with the application window closing, the City of Alexandria said in a release that eviction protections put in place with that program will expire starting on June 1.

Bert Bayou, director of African Communities Together, said affordable housing advocates are scrambling to put together protections for residents.

“This came as a surprise,” said Bayou. “We were expecting this program to continue. This came so quickly and was a shock to the community that it was ending on May 15. We were still trying to get data on how many people used this program for rent relief but still not provided by the state.”

Bayou said that many of Southern Towers’ residents are service-industry employees or Uber drivers who work in jobs that haven’t fully returned to pre-pandemic levels.

“We know this community, we’ve been in this community for many years,” Bayou said. “These are service workers, hospitality workers, Uber drivers. Most of the jobs are dependent on federal workers coming back and they either haven’t or is still part-time. When this is over, when the eviction moratorium ends, we’re going to see a floodgate opening on evictions. It’s going to be massive.”

Bayou said in April 2021, African Communities Together did a study that found CIM Group had started 541 eviction proceedings since buying the property in 2020, and Bayou said they’ve seen another 50 or so since then.

ALXnow reached out to CIM Group to comment or confirm these numbers but received no response.

“They own around 9% of the apartment units in the city,” Bayou said, “but their eviction filings were about 25% of the total. That’s higher than any other landlord in the city.”

Bayou said they’ve tried to reach out to CIM Group to work out a way to offer rent relief for residents of Southern Towers who are still out of work, but that the real estate company will only negotiate with individual residents rather than with tenant groups.

“What we could do is for tenants to sit down collectively with CIM to address this and other issues, but CIM as a multi-billion dollar landlord could sit down and work with tenants not to be evicted and be homeless,” Bayou said. “CIM could do this. They’ve raised hundreds of millions of dollars when they purchased the building. When they come to the city, there has to be some compassion from the landlord to talk to tenants.”

Instead, Bayou said they’re trying to target CIM Group’s investors to try to get them to apply pressure on the real estate company to come to the table. It is, admittedly, a long shot. It’s been one week since African Communities Together started to reach out to investors, and so far the few responses the group has received are from investors that say they’re no longer involved with CIM Group and haven’t been for years.

“They are real estate investors, but there are a good number of public pension funds that have invested in CIM,” Bayou said. “Those are the ones we are really focusing on. Most of the union members for which this pension is being invested would not support this kind of investment.”

African Communities Together is part of the city’s Eviction Prevention Task Force that’s been working on alternative rent relief programs, but it can’t fully replace the statewide program. The city is offering assistance like temporary housing and storage units, but can’t intervene to prevent evictions.

“There is some assistance available through the city for temporary housing and storage units and other assistance,” Bayou said. “I think that’s where we’ll be looking if this happens, but we’re trying not to think about that. We’re trying to keep tenants in their homes. If they lose this apartment building, there’s basically no affordable housing for them.”

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Rendering of new proposed Samuel Madden development (image courtesy ARHA)

A new redevelopment project that could bring hundreds of new affordable housing units to the Braddock neighborhood is headed to city and public review throughout this month.

The mixed-use redevelopment of Samuel Madden Homes in Braddock is scheduled for a pair of community meetings next week followed by a review at the Board of Architectural Review in two weeks.

Today, Samuel Madden Homes is a collection of 66 affordable housing units operated by Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority (ARHA), but the project is slated to be redeveloped with mixed-income housing along with retail, community services and an early childhood education center. A new public park, playground and an art project are also planned for the site.  The project is also currently planned to feature amenities like a pool and exercise rooms.

The project is slated to create 529 new residential units, half of which will be set aside as affordable at either 60 to 80 percent of Area Median Income (AMI).

According to a release from the City of Alexandria, there are three meetings on the new development scheduled for May:

  • Tuesday, May 10: A public community meeting will take place on Tuesday, May 10th at 6:00pm, at Charles Houston Recreation Center (901 Wythe St). The purpose of this meeting is to introduce the development team, discuss the current development project concept, project timeline, and solicit public comment.
  • Wednesday, May 11: The first Section 106 Consulting Party meeting will take place on Wednesday, May 11 at 6:00pm, at Charles Houston Recreation Center (901 Wythe St). The purpose of this meeting is to introduce the project purpose and background, present the draft Area of Potential Effects and preliminary identification of historic properties, present the current development project concept, and solicit public comment.
  • Wednesday, May 18: The applicant has submitted a request for complete demolition of the current Samuel Madden Homes site. This application will be discussed during a Board of Architectural Review Hearing on Wednesday, May 18 at 7:00pm at City Hall Council Chambers (301 King Street).
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A recent Agenda Alexandria meeting with some of the city’s leading affordable housing advocates provided a deep dive into some of the unique challenges and opportunities in the field locally.

In particular, the panel looked at how addressing the affordable housing crisis in Alexandria has changed since the pandemic started.

Mary Lee Anderson, executive director of Senior Services of Alexandria, said for a year after the pandemic started that many of those on the panel would meet weekly and discuss ongoing affordable housing issues. Anderson said strong support from other non-profits and from the City of Alexandria helped maintain services like food delivery at levels above what neighbors were providing.

“We deliver two meals every day, one hot and one cold, where Arlington and Fairfax went to delivering frozen meals once a week,” Anderson said. “The only way we were able to continue doing that was because of the funding from the city and because [Deputy City Manager] Debra Collins the first week was having a City Council meeting and said ‘We’re not going to furlough any city employees and if any nonprofits need help let me know,’ and I was immediately typing ‘Debra, we need help.'”

Anderson said the pandemic forced Senior Services to lose 3/4 of their volunteers overnight, with many in city staff stepping up to fill that gap.

“Our city really stepped up,” Anderson said.

Mary Horner, housing justice staff attorney for Legal Services of Northern Virginia, said the surge in eviction cases caused by pandemic-related job loss forced her office to change its scope.

“Because of the influx of need with individuals who can’t pay the rent going to court, we’ve had to shift how we address these problems,” Horner said. “How are we going to actually provide assistance to so many people who have such a great level of need? It’s required a greater level of collaboration. I’m still representing clients but had to shift from a micro-focus to a macro-focus. How are we going to talk to as many people as possible? That’s one of the things we’ve really focused on, shifting the model from micro to macro.”

Added to those issues, Horner said, is the Virginia Rent Relief Program’s May 15 expiration date.

“We only have about three more weeks of this safety net before we have to turn back to local funds,” Horner said.

Horner said one of the difficult parts of the job is telling locals that there may be no choice but to leave Alexandria.

“At a certain point, when you’ve run out of rental assistance, an eviction might happen,” Horner said. “How do you afford to live here? When there is no answer there, the answer is you don’t live here anymore. I don’t like to give that practical advice, I would like to avoid it, but it comes up quite often because there’s not enough affordable housing.”

The other outcome Horner sees is families doubling up on into cramped units to keep their children in Alexandria’s school system.

“They end up living with another family and that’s when you see ten people in a two-unit building in Alexandria,” Horner said.

Horner said three areas, Arlandria/Chirilagua, Southern Towers, and the Landmark neighborhood account for most of the places where her offices is seeing the most need for eviction assistance.

For those who have been evicted. Allison Coleman, director of the Office of Community Services at the Department of Community and Human Services, said her office has been working to help get those kicked out of their homes get local storage for their belongings.

“One of the initiatives in eviction prevention is being able to work with a local moving and storage company to help those at risk of eviction,” Coleman said. “[That means] having access to a storage unit until they have a new affordable housing unit and having people to help them move in. That’s just one effort to be able to support them.”

The affordable housing advocates also said it was important to note that landlords aren’t always cartoonish villains in eviction stories and some have been at the table and been helpful.

“I think it’s important to note too that never were the landlords made out to be the bad guys in this whole scenario,” said Melanie Gray, director of Outreach and Mission at Historic Christ Church. “There was an effort to bring them to the table from the very beginning and recognize that they have needs too. They have financial responsibilities.”

Horner said one of the advantages in handling eviction cases in Alexandria is that the majority of landlords are large-scale property owners who can afford to take temporary revenue hits that smaller landlords can’t.

“One of the benefits of state rental assistance is that it’s a benefit for landlords and tenants, which is a very rare thing to find in eviction prevention: something that we can all agree on,” Horner said. “I don’t want to say it’s been easy, but it’s been an easier job getting landlords on board with this… We don’t have as many private landlords here. The majority of the landlords seeking rental assistance are large-scale landlords who aren’t as close to missing mortgage deadlines. We do have a few, but that’s one of the thins that’s made things easier here. We have these large landlords that can wait a little bit longer to get more money.”

In terms of long-term fixes, some of those on the panel said solving the affordable housing issues are inseparable from increasing density.

“For density: I don’t know what the alternative would be,” Horner said. “We’re seeing an increase in population. I don’t know how we solve that problem if we don’t have an increase in density.”

The full discussion is available below:

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(Updated 4/21/22) Alexandria’s City Council has finalized a list of priorities with some inclusions that could shape city policy in the coming years.

The city announced the adoption of the priorities yesterday (April 19), though their origin goes back to the Council retreat in January and the vote to approve them took place in March.

“Our new City Council will focus on these six community priority areas and accelerate our efforts,” said Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson in the release. “Coalescing around these priorities has been an important initial step to ensure that our work makes a real and noticeable difference in the lives of Alexandrians.”

According to the release, the priorities are:

  • Recover from the COVID-19 Pandemic: Identify the policies, practices and resources needed to ensure a resilient and equitable recovery for all residents and businesses.
  • Provide Diverse Housing Opportunities: Reconsider our zoning model and explore other tools to better facilitate an Alexandria housing economy that provides the necessary range of price points, styles of housing and associated services to meet the needs of a thriving city.
  • Define Our Community Engagement Approach: Use both new and traditional outreach methods to ensure that engagement is efficient, effective and accessible to all stakeholders, creating a clear connection between community input and its effects on policy decision, infrastructure needs and financial considerations.
  • Support Youth and Families: Explore ways to expand academic, social and emotional services and physical support to all youth during out-of-school hours.
  • Foster Economic Development: Seek out and consider budgetary, land use, regulatory and other economic development tools to foster sustainable and equitable development, diversify revenue and allow greater investment in our infrastructure.
  • Develop a Compensation Philosophy: Establish a new compensation philosophy to ensure we are the preferred workplace of choice and that employees feel valued.

For some, the prospect of reconsidering zoning models to the benefit of affordable housing could mean a step toward the elimination of single-family zoning, something some localities like Minneapolis have enacted.

“I was pleased and surprised,” said Luca Gattoni-Celli, founder of a new group called YIMBYs of NoVA. “A number of our members recently attended the city presentation and virtual public meeting on the zoning density change. A few asked about systemic reform and zoning reform, particularly single-family zoning reform. The main person running that presentation was very clear: she considered those conversations out of the scope of discussion.”

Gattoni-Celli said in private conversations with members of the City Council, city leaders expressed an interest in moving towards reforming single-family zoning.

“Most people in our area don’t have a college degree, and those people deserve better,” Gattoni-Celli said. “They shouldn’t have to be begging for the city to build housing they can afford. The priorities reflect this, messages from campaigns reflect this, and the city needs to get out of the way and let housing be built. Of course, we need to invest in flooding infrastructure and schools, but this is a regulatory failure, not ‘oh my gosh it’s so hard to build housing.'”

Around 65% of adults within the City of Alexandria have a bachelor’s degree or higher. Of Northern Virginia localities, only in Prince William do less than 50% of residents have college degrees.

Gattoni-Celli said much of the opposition to density and affordable housing that he’s seen comes from a misplaced fear.

“There’s a lot of the fear and confusion, a fear of change, I think that’s misplaced,” Gattoni-Celli said. “I live next to Southern Towers, it’s fine: no crime, no traffic, hardly any noise. It’s not a burden.”

Wilson said planned changes aren’t as sweeping as eliminating single-family housing wholesale, but that there are changes already made and on the way that could change what single-family zoning looks like.

“I think everyone gets caught up in different terminology,” Wilson said. “When people say they want to eliminate single-family zoning, they assume we’re coming to take your single-family homes. I live in a single-family home, I’m not planning on giving it up: I like my home. But what we are doing and will continue to do is look for tweaks for all zoning in the city to meet some of that housing demand.”

Wilson cited recent changes to the accessory dwelling unit policy as a recent change that impacted single-family zones. Wilson said other changes include a recently-approved co-living policy, looking at housing units in commercial zones, and changes to bonus height trade-offs.

“These are all part of an overall work program that we call zoning for housing,” Wilson said. “It’s looking at various tweaks to the zoning code that can assist us in addressing the housing demand that continues to come to this region. It’s part of our effort to meet the [Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments] commitments that we made.”

Even in Minneapolis, Wilson said what happened wasn’t that single-family homes were swept away, but that multi-family homes were allowed to be built in those zones. Wilson said the goal for Alexandria is to make tweaks that don’t negatively impact the quality of life but do advance housing affordability.

Read More

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The city government could be opening up new swaths of Alexandria to taller buildings and more affordable housing.

Currently, the city trades bonus density in developments for more affordable housing, but only in areas with a height limit of 50 feet or above. Developers are allowed to exceed established height limits to a degree in exchange for affordable housing units or an equivalent contribution to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

Now, the city is hoping to drop that to areas with 45-foot height limits, which would open up new heights and housing options in places like Old Town, Arlandria and the West End.

At a meeting yesterday (April 12), the Office of Housing officials provided an overview of the proposed change along with a glimpse at where this change could affect the housing stock and height. Developments can not be increased more than 25 feet above previously permitted heights.

The change would open up the possibility for more height in several new areas, though staff warned that height isn’t the only factor determining which developments make that trade. Pre-existing limits on density, for example, make it unlikely for the trade to occur in some parts of the city where it would technically be allowed. Urban Planner Patrick Silva said, for example, that parts of the Parker-Gray neighborhood have site-specific limits rather than zone-wide regulations. Along Washington Street, there are federal rules limiting height in new construction.

But some of the areas likely to be opened up under the policy change would include: parts of Arlandria, some areas of the West End, particularly in the Van Dorn corridor. Some areas of Old Town, particularly along King Street and the Waterfront were listed as likely spots for the height-affordable housing trade in new developments.

City Architect Tom Canfield said the appropriateness of added height would vary by the site and would have to factor in the conditions of nearby buildings. One main consideration would be how the buildings scale with their surroundings. Canfield cited the new Sunrise Senior Living development at the corner of Washington and Princess streets as an example of a recent development that scaled well with its surroundings while throwing shade at Taco Bell Cantina and the former Irish Walk building at 415 King Street as an example of one that scales particularly poorly.

Examples in Alexandria and DC cited as “inappropriate stylistic relationships”, image via City of Alexandria

“There are still plenty of cases you can find around Alexandria where there are cases that just aren’t appropriate,” Canfield said. “Either for extreme variations in height or very oversimplified and non-contextual architecture. Where judgment comes in… are situations where there could well be that adding two floors could be acceptable to everyone and cases where no floors or one floor is the sweet spot.” Read More

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(Updated 7:15 p.m.) For a while now, there’s been a fairly straightforward trade between the City of Alexandria and developers: if you want more density, you need to build affordable residential units.

New development in Old Town North, however, has thrown a wrinkle into that system by opening up a second option. Now, developers can also get bonus density by opening up sections of new development to arts use — part of the city’s efforts to establish Old Town North as an arts district.

In theory, the two bonuses stack, trading greater levels of density for both arts and affordable housing. Housing advocates raised eyebrows when two of the initial developments only pursued the arts district bonus density, though newer developments have since pursued both types of density.

Karl Moritz, Director of Planning and Zoning for the City of Alexandria, told ALXnow the goal is to balance the two density trade-offs.

“There are multiple goals and objectives in every small area plan,” said Moritz. “[We’re] trying to balance objectives, and sometimes they aren’t competing, but sometimes they’re more competitive in the sense that everything takes money.”

Moritz said that if the standpoint is that housing should be a sole priority of new development, it would follow that density traded for anything else is space and funding taken away from housing.

“Are these conflicting goals? I think there are people with legitimate points of view on both sides of that question and I want to honor both perspectives,” Moritz said. “We are seeing both being maximized. That is at least a little bit of evidence that they are not competing so much as the market in Old Town North is strong enough that both are being maximized. But for anyone that feels affordable housing is a more urgent problem: that’s density that could have gone to affordable housing because they’re maximizing the affordable housing bonus.”

Moritz said the goal is to create a neighborhood that includes a variety of attributes, including both arts space and affordable housing. Part of that balance is ensuring that there’s not a significant cost difference between the two trade-offs.

“Our goal is, among other things, to make sure they are balanced so it’s not significantly cheaper over the long run to provide arts density bonus over affordable housing bonus,” Moritz said. “It is more expensive to provide affordable housing than an arts shell, but an affordable housing project gets up to 60% of rent whereas arts use is zero, so it costs more in the long term. We’re still looking at that issue.” Read More

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The City of Alexandria is hosting a community meeting for a plan to allow additional bonus height in new zones in exchange for affordable housing.

Currently, developers can only apply for bonus height in zones with height limits of 50 feet. The new ordinance would take that down to allow developers to apply for bonus height in zones with 45 foot high limits. It’s a relatively minor change on paper, but it opens new density options across the city as well as more opportunities for affordable housing.

The virtual meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, April 12, from 6-8 p.m.

“It will be an opportunity for staff to share information pertaining to this two-part proposed Text Amendment and to obtain initial community input with additional opportunities for the public to comment through email, letters, and phone calls,” the city said in a release.

Additional information is scheduled to be presented at the Thursday, April 7 planning commission meeting before going to public hearings in May.

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Elbert Avenue Apartments, image via Google Maps

Alexandria non-profit Community Lodging has announced plans to significantly expand affordable housing in Arlandria-Chirilagua with the redevelopment of a 1940s apartment complex.

Elbert Avenue Apartments, a set of three three-story buildings constructed in the 1940s, currently has 28 units affordable for renters making 60% of the Area Median Income (AMI) — the standard applied for evaluating affordable housing. But these buildings are in rough shape after what Community Lodging called years of “Band-Aid fixes”.

In a release, Community Lodging said the plan is to redevelop the site with 96 units available at various levels of affordability.

“The new property, currently proposed to include 96 apartments, would substantially expand Community Lodging’s impact,” the non-profit said. “The project provides a unique opportunity as Arlandria-Chirilagua faces challenges of rent increases and gentrification due to its location near Amazon HQ2 in Arlington and the upcoming Potomac Yard Metro.”

Community Lodging said affordable housing investments are particularly important for Arlandria-Chirilagua’s majority Latinx community where median household incomes are below 50% of AMI and are a “historically underserved and underinvested community.”

Financing for the project is being sought through a housing tax credit program. Households will be accessible for those at or below 60% of AMI. Of the new units, 20% will be dedicated to households at or below 50% of AMI.

Image via Google Maps

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Nathaly Zelaya from Tenants at a City Council meeting on March 7, image via City of Alexandriaand Workers United

Alexandria kicked off a discussion of the FY 2023 budget with a public hearing last night (Monday), where climate and housing advocates pushed for the city’s budget to do more to address these issues.

There was little feedback from the City Council in the 45-minute session as the floor was mostly turned over to public speakers.

Kathie Hoekstra, chair of the Environmental Policy Commission, expressed disappointment that the budget didn’t do more to tackle the climate emergency declared in 2019.

“I’m confused because in 2019 you declared a climate emergency and… called for urgent action,” said Hoekstra. “You then committed to taking the following actions: ending greenhouse gas emissions as quickly as possible, underscoring the need for full community participation, inclusion and support, and being integral to and in the leadership of the mobilization effort. I’m confused because I don’t see that in the current proposed budget.”

Several other speakers at the meeting echoed Hoekstra’s comments, saying the city’s progress on its climate reforms leave something to be desired.

“So I’m left with a couple of questions: why have we not learned to integrate both climate issues and equity issues into all decisions the city makes?” Hoekstra said. “Let me be clear, there are solutions where you don’t have to choose between addressing the climate crisis or affordable housing or any other high priority item. You have incredible city staff members in planning and zoning and the energy apartment, they know the right thing to do they just need your support.”

Hoekstra called for a requirement that city staff integrates climate and equity considerations into every project, plan or proposal. Hoekstra also requested that all new developments asking for bonus density or height be required to certain energy use intensity standards.

The other topics pushed by several speakers were a higher priority on affordable housing support and a return of the old argument about eliminating school resource officers.

An Alexandria City High School student spoke about school resource officers, saying minority students shouldn’t have to see a police officer when entering the school.

Nathaly Zelaya, a community organizer with Tenants and Workers United, asked that the new City Council reverse the previous Council’s decision to reinstate school resource officers and dedicate that funding to mental health programs instead.

Zelaya and other public speakers also asked the City Council to invest more heavily in affordable housing with increases from property tax revenue and an increase in the city’s meals tax.

“We hope our community will be reflected as a priority,” Zelaya said. “We ask the council to prioritize deeply affordable housing for households earning 30% AMI and below in Arlandria and raise the meals tax from 5% to 6% and increasing property tax revenue dedicate to affordable housing from 0.6 cents to a full penny.”

Zelaya also asked that additional American Rescue Plan Act funding be invested into Alexandria Housing Development Corporation projects in Arlandria and the West End.

Budget adoption is scheduled for May 4, with several more work sessions and hearings planned before then.

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Rendering for Mount Vernon and Glebe, via AHDC

New affordable housing developments have a positive — if very slight — impact on housing values in Alexandria, according to a new report prepared for the City of Alexandria by the Urban Institute.

The report was presented to the Alexandria Housing Affordability Advisory Committee at a meeting earlier this week. The findings were presented by Christina Stacy, principal research associate for the Urban Institute. The presentation did start, though, with a notable disclaimer that Stacy is a board member at the Alexandria Housing Development Corporation (AHDC), one of the most active affordable housing developers in Alexandria.

“There’s a lot of opposition to affordable housing developments, [there’s] often a fear that developments will cause nearby property values to decline,” Stacy said. “But really, research has provided very little evidence that this exists.”

Stacy said a team at the Urban Institute used real estate website Zillow‘s tracking of residences — single-family homes, duplexes, coops and condominiums — in close proximity to developments with affordable housing components created between 2000 and 2020. Other weighted factors considered in study were proximity to the new development and whether the affordable housing was a component of a broader housing development or entirely affordable housing, like the Carpenter Shelter redevelopment.

Stacy said the calculation also factored in overall housing value increases. The results, she said, showed that affordable housing has a slight but notable positive impact on housing values in the immediate vicinity, though with the expected diminishing returns beyond that.

“We were going into this kind of expecting to find nothing, we weren’t really sure,” said Stacy. “What we consistently found was a positive and significant correlation between affordable housing developments and nearby property values. Affordable housing units are associated with an increase in nearby property values of .09%. That’s very small, but it’s not negative and that’s what’s important.”

Stacy said the study used a “repeat sales model,” looking at homes sold more than once and comparing price changes before and after new affordable housing was built. The sales were also compared with other similar properties that aren’t located near affordable housing developments, efforts that Stacy said aimed to “isolate the relationship between affordable housing and home prices.”

Stacy said the research showed a statistically significant effect on properties within 1/16 mile of the development, but little effect outside of that.

“Which is actually comforting for us because then we’re really thinking we’re isolating the impact of the building rather than just picking up developments that are going into neighborhoods that are already growing,” Stacy said, “but the fact that we’re not seeing that is comforting.”

Stacy said when breaking out housing that was “set aside” from market-rate units versus developments that are all committed affordable housing, her team was surprised to that see non-set aside buildings were most of what was driving the positive results. The report also found that the new developments still had a positive impact in higher-income neighborhoods.

The committee also discussed narrowing of criteria — breaking developments down by the average median income of the housing, for example. Stacy said it was possible, but the only concern was that fracturing the data samples too much could impact the reliability of the results. Commissioners also asked about the impact of density on home values, which Stacy said is being looked at in a separate report.

“You don’t have to give the results if it doesn’t turn out right,” one commissioner joked. “You can lie with statistics.”

“I hope you all should trust these results because that’s one thing we don’t do at Urban,” Stacy said. “We let the results [speak for themselves]. That’s why I go into these with a stressed heart because I know what I’m hoping to find, but we report what we find, and I could give you examples of studies we’ve done where we’ve reported what I wouldn’t necessarily have wanted, but you can trust these results because we report what we find no matter what we find.”

Stacy said there are a few factors that likely contributed to that positive correlation in Alexandria where others have had the opposite effect. One of the biggest, Stacy said, is that Alexandria has fairly strict requirements for design, development, maintenance and operation of affordable housing developments in comparison to other localities — Stacy singled out Norfolk in this — where city leaders said they often feel like they don’t have proper oversight.

“My interpretation of all of this is, given the well documented and proven benefits of affordable housing… we think these results support the development of additional affordable housing and I think other cities could learn a lot from how it’s done here in Alexandria,” Stacy said.

Helen McIlvaine, director of the Office of Housing, said the impetus for the report was public discussion surrounding a new AHDC project on Seminary Road. McIlvaine said one of the main questions from neighbors was how the new development would impact home values.

“We always get a question about ‘what will this do to our property values’ and this gives us some really great data to point to,” McIlvaine said.

Stacy said the full report is expected to be released in a month, with additional information on how the findings of the study can be reviewed and cross-checked.

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