Habitat for Humanity of Washington, D.C. & Northern Virginia (Habitat DC-NOVA) appreciates the opportunity to provide comment on the proposed amendments to Arlington County’s zoning policies to support missing middle housing, hereafter referred to Expanded Housing Option (EHO) development. Consistent with our prior public comments dated July 7, 2022 and January 23, 2023, we encourage the Planning Commission and County Board to approve the most expansive version of EHO development in March 2023. Habitat DC-NOVA believes that allowing modest increases in density and housing type diversity in Arlington’s single-family neighborhoods is a necessary first step in ending exclusionary zoning, expanding housing choice, and improving affordability. The changes also would better enable Habitat DC-NOVA and the Virginia Statewide Community Land Trust to produce and preserve committed affordable homeownership units. The comments that follow focus on four main themes:
- Improving affordability in Arlington’s R-Zoned Districts requires expanding housing supply and building forms beyond single-family detached. The current EHO proposal is a foundational step in this process.
- To achieve the intended goals of missing middle housing, the County should not place artificial limits on the location and number of EHO developments. We encourage the County to adopt options 2A, 10B, and 7B.
- Greater regulatory flexibility opens more pathways to success. As such, the County should not adopt strict regulations on size and design. We support options 4B, 12B, 8A, 5C, 5E, and 3A. We also support the adoption of tree planting requirements under Option 6A. We prefer option 11B. We strongly oppose option 5B.
- The County should take additional action to maximize the impact of any approved zoning changes. We particularly support coordination with the County’s ongoing homeownership study, a robust educational/outreach effort, and the adoption of additional incentives for committed affordable housing, open space preservation, and high-quality/energy-efficient design. Finally, we encourage the County to make a “down payment” on affordable homeownership in the County’s Fiscal Year 2024 Budget by committing resources for the acquisition of properties to be added to the committed affordable homeownership stock.
Susanne Slater, President & CEO
Habitat for Humanity of Washington, D.C. & Northern Virginia
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About Habitat for Humanity Washington, D.C. & Northern Virginia
Habitat for Humanity Washington, D.C. & Northern Virginia (Habitat DC-NOVA) believes everyone deserves a safe, decent, and affordable place to call home. Our mission is to reduce poverty housing and homelessness by building decent, affordable, energy-efficient homes for those in need. In addition to building and selling affordable homes, Habitat DC-NOVA provides home repairs, offers financial education, and advocates for policies that create more housing for struggling families in the national capital region.