Setting the record straight: Affordable living in Arlington

I believe that Arlington must be a community where people of all economic conditions and at all stages of their life can live and thrive. I speak often on the campaign trail about the importance of maintaining all the rungs on our social and economic “ladder”, and I am particularly concerned for our lower and middle rungs – especially when it comes to the affordability of living in Arlington.

Unfortunately, my opponent in this election has taken two votes out of context to suggest that I oppose funding one important tool for expanding our supply of affordable housing. This insinuation is false. I would like to explain the contexts for both of those votes.

The fund in question is our Affordable Housing Investment Fund (AHIF). AHIF is a revolving fund. One of its strengths is that it replaces itself as loans are repaid so that a single AHIF dollar leverages other affordable housing dollars from multiple sources. I support dedicating developer contributions to AHIF and I support regular funding for AHIF. I also support applying one-time money to AHIF when it is available.

But, I believe that any such available money should go through the budget process, with full opportunity for public comment and input by our various advisory commissions, as it did this year. The first of the two votes was my vote in November when a proposal was on the table to appropriate money to AHIF through the “close out” process. This means that surplus funds from the prior year would be allocated without going through the full, months-long budget process that we follow each year. I believe it is better to weigh spending options deliberately through the budget process regardless of the spending item, absent an immediate and compelling circumstance to the contrary. In the end, that is what we did this year and we allocated more money to AHIF in the final result than was proposed in November – I voted for this final allocation.

The second vote was on how to allocate additional funds, beyond the $12 million already planned for AHIF during our final budget work session. There were a number of different proposals, and all added funds to good and important programs – but the quantity of funds was limited and we could not give as much money to everything as we would have liked. My preference was to put some additional money into a general land acquisition fund, to preserve some flexibility so that Arlington County would be able to respond if opportunities arose. Three of my colleagues preferred to dedicate those additional funds of roughly $2 million to AHIF. The additional funding for AHIF won, and I was happy to vote later for the final budget, knowing that those funds would be well used on this important priority.

Jun, 07, 2016