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Falls Church Officials Continue Work on Affordable Housing With New Guidelines

Falls Church city officials say now that the city’s housing guidelines have been updated, the real work begins.

On Aug. 12, the City Council unanimously voted in favor of new affordable housing and demographics chapters as the city staff works to update its Comprehensive Plan.

“Revisiting the city’s zoning ordinances is an appropriate thing to do to make sure the rules of the game support the goals the city is trying to work toward,” Paul Stoddard, the city’s planning director, said. “Housing doesn’t operate in a free market. It is heavily constrained by local regulation.”

These approved changes come after months of work and revisions from committees, including the Housing Commission and Planning Commission. Now, city leaders are calling on the public to speak up — to ensure that the plan is implemented.

Housing Commissioner Pete Davis, who acted as an ally for the plan throughout its development, said he emphasized the importance of affordable hosing amendments that will address Falls Church’s “crisis.”

He asked the Planning Commission to “keep affordable housing in the forefront of [its] mind” during an address on Aug, 5.

At the same meeting, commissioners noted changes to the proposal since the group last met, with key adaptions including the addition of religious organizations as a partner to ease housing burdens, a revised definition of median income, the inclusion of accessory dwellings as a solution and acknowledgment that it will take the entire community to solve the issue.

Davis said that the next steps require community members to speak up about affordable housing and continue to put pressure on the Falls Church City Council.

Within increasing pressure from Amazon’s HQ2 coming into the area, Davis said that city officials and community members can no longer remain passive and wait to see how the market reacts — they must act now and push for more affordable housing units.

“We cannot take a hands-off approach anymore,” Davis said.

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