their heads and food on the table,” said Chris Herbert,
the center’s managing director. “These negative trends are
poised to go from bad to worse as the most burdened populations — minorities and the elderly — grow.”
But boosting the supply of affordable housing is just one
of many needs — roads, schools, transit — competing
for limited tax dollars. That’s why allocating public land
makes more and more sense to more and more localities.
“It’s a resource they can use to support affordable housing
without a direct cash outlay,” Hickey said.
San Francisco, New York City and King County, Wash.,
are among a number of municipalities around the country
that have adopted policies promoting the use of public land
for affordable housing, but some of the best examples of
such policies in action are in the Washington, D.C. area.
All of the forces that drive a locality into an affordable
housing crunch — a strong economy, growing population and rising costs for dwindling land — are especially
acute in metropolitan Washington, D.C.
Take Arlington County, Va., for example. “If we didn’t
do anything, we could quickly be down to zero housing
that’s affordable to people who are making 60 percent of
the average median income,” said Jay Fisette, a member
of the Arlington County Board.
Colocation — sharing land for multiple uses — is an especially creative way to use public land to support affordable
housing. Arlington County teamed up with the Arlington
Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH), a nonprofit
corporation, to build a community center and affordable housing on the same county property atop a shared
Completed in 2014, the Arlington Mill Residences is a
four-story apartment building in which all 122 units are
priced for households earning less than 60 percent of the
area median income. A one-bedroom unit rents for $533
to $1,148 a month.
The site would have fetched an estimated $8.5 million
or more on the open market, but APAH paid the county
just $1.55 million for a 75-year ground lease. The savings
Colocation is an especially
creative way to use public land
to support affordable housing.
(Left) APAH’s Arlington Mill Residences,
home to 122 households. More than 3,000
people applied to live at Arlington Mill when
it first opened in 2014.
(Below) Healthy eating on a budget and a
good time too! APAH and Virginia Cooperative
Extension team up to provide slow cooker
classes for APAH families.
Courtesy of Arlington Partnership
for Affordable Housing