Arlington, VA – On Wednesday evening, the Arlington County Board passed Expanded Housing Options (EHO), a result of the Missing Middle Housing study. After the adjournment of the meeting, Democratic County Board Candidate Maureen Coffey said, “I’m glad that our current County Board members have added another tool to our housing toolbox. There are a number of moral and economic reasons why this change was imperative for Arlington.”
Coffey has been vocal about rising housing costs in Arlington for not only homeowners but also renters in the county. “Arlington needs to do more to protect renters. Costs are going up faster than earnings. People are bidding on rental units and offering hundreds over the listed monthly rent – I experienced this myself, and I have heard it repeatedly from people who just want to stay where they already live,” she said. “Expanded zoning does not eclipse the need for a better approach to housing overall, and to provide necessary county services for both existing and future housing.”
“There is value in giving higher income residents more ownership choices so that they are not competing with people with modest incomes in the rental market. This is a small step toward adding more ownership options. There is still much more to do when it comes to actual affordability.” The 2020 Affordable Housing Master Plan 5-Year Report indicates that the county needs to add 9,500 additional ownership units by 2045, more than 300 each year. Yet, during the entire five-year period covered by the report, Arlington added only 388 ownership units.
Coffey, who began her career analyzing and addressing discrimination in housing, highlighted the historic importance of the vote: “Changing our zoning laws is a step in removing de facto discrimination in Arlington. In establishing zoning, leaders exploited the racial wealth gap by creating single-family home neighborhoods to prevent people of color from moving in next door without explicitly mentioning of race. These choices still impact housing today. We have to actively work toward equitable housing to repair the damages of the past.”