During this season of giving, the Washington Area Housing Partnership (WAHP) is distributing a new toolkit to local governments on best strategies for preserving, promoting, and producing more affordable housing. Area leaders have become increasingly concerned that a growing number of individuals—teachers, police officers, employees in the service sector, and others—cannot afford to live and work in this expensive metropolitan region.
“These folks are an integral part of the region’s economy and the high quality of life many of us enjoy,” said Arlington County Board Member Barbara Favola, who also serves as WAHP Chair. “We must address this growing crisis of high priced housing.”
The Toolkit for Affordable Housing Development offers area governments the following strategies:
· Policies for preserving existing affordable units and developing new ones;
· Design concepts to help affordable units blend into their surrounding community;
· Funding resources, such as trust funds, for both new development and preservation projects;
· Homeowner and rental assistance programs;
· Housing programs for special-needs populations such as elderly, disabled or homeless people;
· Advocacy tools to help promote the benefits of affordable housing programs for local communities.
“Local governments play a major role in influencing the local housing market,” said Favola. “Our programs and policies should support and encourage housing options that are affordable to a diverse population. The diversity of this metropolitan region is what makes it so desirable.”
The Toolkit highlights dozens of successful local and national affordable housing programs. The following local jurisdictions have at least one example promoted:
· Alexandria, VA
· Arlington County, VA
· Fairfax County, VA
· Falls Church, VA
· Prince William County, VA
· Frederick County, MD
· Montgomery County, MD
· Prince George’s County, MD
· District of Columbia
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development defines ‘affordable housing costs’ as being no more than 30% of a household’s gross income.
WAHP is a public-private affordable housing coalition comprised of local governments, elected officials, and private and nonprofit housing developers. The partnership is staffed by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG). In 2006, WAHP will actively promote the Toolkit throughout the region by offering technical assistance workshops to local leaders.
Interested in the affordable housing programs in your community featured in the Toolkit? Click here to download a pdf version of the Toolkit.