Feedback for FY 2019 Budget

Information

After reading through the comments to date, I was fascinated by the lack of basic information that most commenters possess. I was also concerned about how few residents commented. What is the Arlington population about 125,000 with about 200 comments? We are missing a large swath of Arlington residents.

 

To speak to "basic information". It seems that most commenters do not have a strong grasp about the details of Arlington programs. How can we better communicate with, educate and involve more citizens? Otherwise, I suggest that the comments have some degree of being suspect because they are provided by special interest groups and those who do not understand the basics of programs.

 

Let's use affordable housing as an example. Some want to make all housing more affordable in Arlington. When the cost of land and the cost of construction is very high, ho do you make housing more affordable? You can not unless you subsidize construction with federal, State or local funds.

 

Again using affordable housing as an example, Arlington needs to better provide citizens the basics of construction and land costs, as well as do citizens wish to see more density and height in their neighborhoods. How much are residents willing to subsidize construction, maintenance and upkeep of affordable housing? In essence how much is Arlington willing to spend to subsidize the rent of affordable units? There is also the question of ancillary services or what is the total cost of affordable housing. For example, if you pay your full property tax, then whether you have children or not, you are supporting the school system and all the other Arlington services. If you have subsidized rent in affordable housing, you are getting a reduced rent payment, and paying nothing for all the other services consumed such as schools.

 

We need to be a caring community, but to what level? It is sometimes opined that currently Arlington spends about $50 million per year for affordable housing. That is 10% of the County budget.

 

Are there other options for affordable housing? Consider that we will hopefully be eliminating many useless rules for accessory dwellings. Should we do more? I think so. How can we encourage residents who are paying no property tax because they can not afford to, to take in a roommate? This would be a win win because most of these folk are disabled and need someone to be near.

 

Rather than just building stand alone affordable housing, let's encourage the construction of accessory dwellings when a home is rebuilt and when a homeowner wishes to build on an accessory dwelling. We pay large sums to build stand alone affordable housing. It would be less expensive to help a homeowner, especially if that homeowner is alone or occupying a large home after the kids have left.

 

In summary let's do 2 things: (1) provide the citizens a full summary of the costs of building and maintaining affordable housing and (2) take a very detailed look at how we can better enable affordable housing. There will be some "broken china" in such a proposal. How will the affordable advocates such as AHC be inclined to support such. It would possibly reduce the funding that these organizations receive. HOWEVER, with the current Federal administration it appears that there will be less affordable housing funding coming from the Feds whether to the State or local government. We need to look at other alternatives because of the lack of Federal/State funding, as well as we have become to comfortable with our current way. We need to look at other alternatives. The first step is to provide a detailed information packet on what it costs to build, maintain and operate affordable housing. The second step is to take a detailed look at how we can "cross pollinate" with other programs and needs; but especially be creative and look at all options that we have not considered before.

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Idea No. 48