On Saturday, May 20, the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority (FCRHA) held a community input session on affordable housing at Walt Whitman Middle School. This was the first of several planned sessions to be held countywide.

Sustainable housing is vitally important to economic growth. It helps people live and work in the same community, shortens commutes and relieves traffic congestion, makes it easier to attract workers, and broadens the county’s tax base. In fact, at our Economic Outlook Summit we learned from Dr. Terry Clower of George Mason University that domestic migration into the Washington, DC area has essentially halted and significant numbers of residents are leaving for other parts of the country: http://cdn2.slideonline.com/upload/pres/bc9b8b4fdd48f1a3dbfb1d4a6918b459923ee35f/slide-big-10.jpg

Housing serves as a platform for individual and family well-being. How can a child who is bouncing among temporary housing settle down in school and learn? What is the impact of housing stress on an employee at work? Stable and affordable housing promotes consistent school attendance, more likelihood of economic mobility, and better mental and physical health for everyone.

That income and housing are not the only factors was made clear by discussion of the scenarios presented. Everything from transportation to disability to empty nests to student loans influence the issue of housing affordability. What is the impact if health care workers and teachers cannot afford to live in our community? Does it matter if retirees choose to move outside the county? Should employers be concerned about young workers leaving the area? Is it a problem that young families, even those earning more than the median household income, have difficulty purchasing a home they can afford? What can be done to help, and by whom?

For more information and to complete the online survey, visit:  http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/rha/communityhousingplan.htm