The urban architect Daniel Parolek coined MMH, and as he puts it, this housing option is “Thinking Big and Building Small.” It is a time-proven, incremental way to provide more housing choices, which Arlington desperately needs.
With much of Arlington already built out, we need to open up new neighborhoods to welcome new neighbors who cannot afford the $1.5 – $2,000,000 homes, but who could afford the housing types envisioned in this study. The status quo is clearly unsustainable and further perpetuates historic and systemic racial and economic inequality. Additional housing, however modest in scale, relieves some of the pressure that Arlington’s growing population and economy have engendered. MMH is not the answer to the affordability crisis, but it is one answer, that the County could and should implement.
That these small-scale, multi-family units could be developed County-wide, by right, is crucial, and must be preserved in further phases. County-wide distribution is laudable, sensible, and equitable and reverses decades of exclusionary zoning. Moreover, by right is the only way that these units would likely ever be developed. Builders going into this need confidence in knowing they can get approvals without layers of restrictive, unclear, arbitrary, or unpredictable requirements.
Arlington County has a terrific opportunity here to (1) directly address systemic and historic economic and racial discrimination for more affordable and equitable housing distribution throughout the County, and (2) add attractive and energy-efficient new housing stock, and (3) moderately and sustainably ease the affordability crisis in the County.
Jon Smoot, Co-President & CEO
Habitat for Humanity of Washington, D.C. & Northern Virginia
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.