Letter to Editor – FCNP – January 18, 2017

Blog posts are the personal views of Letty Hardi and not official statements or records on behalf of the Falls Church City Council

As my letter to the FCNP was edited down, I’ve included the full version here. This was meant to run concurrently with the first of several housing articles written by the Housing Commission to educate our community about housing issues over the next few months. Stay tuned!

Dear Editor,

As we all kick off 2018 and make our new year’s resolutions, City Council will also be reflecting on our core values and 2040 vision to set priorities for the next two years. Affordability is an issue I plan to advocate for in our work plan. As the liaison to the Housing Commission, I have had a firsthand look at the regional issue of affordability – especially housing affordability – and I challenge us as a community to do better.

Housing is the largest cost in a typical household’s expenses. Coupled with increasing real estate values, rents, a dwindling stock of market rate affordable housing, and our higher than average tax rate, this combination is threatening to price out residents, young and old, and eliminate the opportunity for new residents and City employees to join the community. I believe we are missing the mark on building a community that truly fosters inclusiveness and social diversity. The future and health of the City requires diversity of all kinds – racial, generational, and socioeconomic. Affordable, not only means a more livable and vibrant city day-to-day for us, but also attracts employers when they see a diverse city that can support new businesses and can hire employees who can live locally, which ultimately alleviates traffic woes and supports our environmental sustainability goals.

As we embark on a once-in-a-generational investment in a new high school and the future of our children, let’s also take the opportunity to take care of all our neighbors. We’ll need a multi-pronged approach – updated affordable housing policies, new workforce housing stock, real estate tax deferral program expansion, a reasonable tax rate balanced with continued economic development, and regional housing partnerships are some ideas to cultivate real diversity. As a primer – over the next few months, you’ll find a series of articles in the News Press dedicated to housing, from fair housing laws to different community perspectives about affordable housing, written by members of the Housing Commission. I hope you’ll find this week’s article and future ones informative and will join me in taking on the affordability challenge, so that we can build a more diverse community together.