Expanding Housing Supply and Affordability

In recent years, the issue of housing affordability has gained prominence in our national dialogue. Efforts to address the rising costs for safe, decent homes have generated substantial debate about the role of market-rate development, the availability of committed affordable housing, and the causes and impacts of gentrification. Today, the Northern Virginia Affordable Housing Alliance released two new publications addressing these topics: Building Northern Virginia’s Future: Policies to Create a More Affordable, Equitable Housing Supply and a companion Research Justifications report. These reports were produced by Neighborhood Fundamentals, LLC.

This body of research examines the factors that are influencing housing costs in the inner-Northern Virginia region – population and economic growth, demographic change, and shifting consumer preferences. It also discusses the factors that have inhibited the growth of an equitable housing supply, including local land use and the regulatory framework. At a high level, this research found that addressing affordability across the income spectrum involves more than simply increasing development. Adding new housing supply may have varying impacts on affordability, particularly for those with the lowest incomes. An equitable approach to development addresses supply needs across multiple dimensions, including tenure, building type, and location/neighborhood characteristics.

This report offers recommendations to advocates, policymakers and practitioners for improving affordability while advancing social equity. The recommendations reflect the notion that the most urgent action should be directed to the areas of greatest need and to the region’s most vulnerable residents. Recommendations are organized into four categories:

Proactively preserve and expand housing options for the region’s low-income and historically marginalized households;

Increase market-rate development and diversify the region’s housing stock to accommodate household and job growth;

Undertake bureaucratic changes to improve the efficiency of current policies;

Improve communications and community engagement processes to better facilitate the policy changes necessary to advance affordability.

Each category includes specific recommendations that the region’s elected officials, city/county staff, funders, and developers can support to improve the region’s development climate, improve affordability, and increase access to opportunity for all of the region’s residents.

We welcome your feedback as we encourage regional dialogue on this very important topic.