Historic Homes of Freedman's Village
Contact: Miriam Gennari, Press Secretary, Virginia Green Party, 703-549-1422, firstname.lastname@example.org
On March 10, 2012 at 8:30AM Saturday morning a group of concerned Arlington residents will rally and speak at the County Board meeting to voice their opposition to the disappearance of affordable housing opportunities for low to moderate income families in the county, particularly along the Columbia Pike area in Arlington, the last major source of affordable housing left in Arlington. Many community organizations, faith based and neighborhood groups in Arlington, including the Arlington Greens, are concerned that the redevelopment of the Pike area will push residents making less than $50,000 a year out of the Arlington community. The county board public meeting is held on the second floor of the county office building at 2100 Clarendon Blvd. in Arlington.
The immediate pressing issue on the minds of these citizens is the Columbia Pike development project which stands to forever alter the historical community of Freedman Village, also known as Foxcroft Heights, an area known for its affordable housing that is filled with minorities and immigrants. Most resident along the Pike are unaware of the massive changes the county board is considering. Looming as well on the county government's development agenda is, the county government's building of a trolley down the Pike at a public cost of approaching $300 million a moved that will eliminate nearly all current market-rate rental apartments along the Pike, according to the county government's own planning study.
Neighborhoods with substantial numbers of section 8 housing are slated to be demolished and replaced by mixed use/commercial-residential buildings. Many will be replaced with luxury housing and the current over 5,000 affordable apartments will not be replaced. Sandra Hernandez, a resident of Freedman Village/Foxcroft Heights, says she expects many of her neighbors and possibly herself and family to be forced out of the county if the moderate-cost rowhouses are demolished, and million-dollar townhouses built as replacements.
As for the trolley, many citizens oppose the plan which has come to be called "the solution without a problem." The street car will add to the county's electric bill, use more energy to move riders than buses currently do, require passengers to use a credit card, and occupy two lanes of traffic on a road that many feel currently runs quite well during rush hour. The Pike corridor is the busiest bus corridor in the State of Virginia, slow moving trolleys are likely to impede the flow and buses. Additionally, the cost of the trolley will be paid for by assessing higher taxes on small business and property owners in addition to what the developers will pay. The cost of the trolley back in December 2011 was estimated at $240 million to $260 million, but this is likely to rise substantially.
Over the past decade, the county government was unable to meet its annual countywide goal of adding 400 committed affordable apartments. In 2010 Arlington added only 141 units and spent $5 million from its Affordable Housing Investment Fund for that purpose. The county planning study for the trolley found that the county government will need to spend around $300 million to keep 5,000 affordable apartments along the Pike. The county now facing severe school overcrowding and a need for more school classrooms will likely have to spend hundreds of millions for school building in the next five years, and will face a dilemma of where these funds will come from.
Last week at the Organization of Women Voters debate candidates for County Board Libby Garvey (D) and Mark Kelly (R) were asked how they would vote on the plan for Columbia Pike. Kelly said that given the current plan and budget issues he would oppose the plan as it stands today. Garvey response included "listening and learning", but offered no concrete commitment to address citizens concerns. Green candidate Audrey Clement is making affordable housing and the Columbia Pike Trolley a focus of her campaign for a seat on the County Board. Clement has stated she wants to create and fund a housing authority in Arlington that will help low and moderate income renters by consolidating the county's housing programs under one umbrella. In addition, Clement wants to help seek out the millions of dollars of federal funds available for public housing that other northern Virginia jurisdictions already receive.
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GPVA Press Secretary: Miriam