ALEXANDRIA, Va. (DC News Now) — It’s getting harder and harder to find a place to live, or to afford it, in Alexandria. Now, the city is working to find ways to ease those problems, but it won’t come without controversy.
The city’s ‘Zoning for Housing, Housing for All’ plan comes at a time of increasing evictions due to expiring protections. It also comes as affordable living situations are getting tougher to find.
Alexandria’s efforts come months after Arlington County finished its work on the controversial Missing Middle plan.
“Zoning for Housing is an initiative to expand the availability, expand housing production, expand housing affordability, and to also address past and current barriers to housing access, particularly for people of color,” said Alexandria Director of Planning and Zoning Karl Moritz.
At a community meeting hosted at a city rec center, and streamed on Zoom, people learned and asked questions about the city’s plan.
One potential aspect of the plan is to allow multi-unit dwellings in currently single-family-only zones.
“If we have a housing crisis, and we believe that we do, it doesn’t make sense to take one-third of our land off the table,” Moritz said.
Right now, almost 44% of housing options are market-rate rentals. Single-family units and condos make up roughly a quarter each. That means less than 7% are affordable rentals or condos.
“We have said that the goal for single-family housing initiative is not so much to improve housing affordability, but to increase the diversity of housing types that are available,” Moritz said.
Alarming numbers show who is struggling to rent in Alexandria. It takes a $77,000 yearly salary to afford an average one-bedroom unit with utilities, the city said. It also estimates that’s more than many people make — from fast food cooks to ACPS bus drivers, to power-line workers.