• For more information on Green Party membership or to contact Green Party leadership, email info@greensofarlington.org Join the Arlington Greens online on Zoom on Wednesday, May 6 at 7 pm. For Zoom meeting ID and password, email us at info@greensofarlington.org

May 22, 2020

Arlington County Not Meeting Needs of Tenants in Pandemic—Thousands of renters headed for eviction and hunger

Affordable Housing,hunger — @ 4:15 pm

The Arlington County Board is not meeting the needs of Arlington tenants who lost jobs owing pandemic closings, and who now may lose their apartments if the county does not provide far more tenant assistance in the form of rent vouchers.  The county board so far has approved less than $2 million in federal and local funds for immediate rent relief, and at most approved another $2.7 million after July 1 even though the rental relief needs likely exceed $20 million.  A rich community like Arlington and a county budget of over $1.5 billion should be able to adequately fund rent relief and food assistance.

In March, the Arlington Greens petitioned the county board to use local tax dollars to provide $10 million for rent vouchers and food gift cards for tenants who have lost their jobs owing to Covid.  Greens then expanded the request to $22 million in April as the Covid worsened.  Greens pointed out that based on national unemployment data as many as 8,000 Arlington households may be unable to pay their rents.

On May 19, the county accepted $21 million in federal funds for Covid, but would only agree to spend $1 million to immediately help households with a $1,500 per month housing voucher for three months.  This amount will only help 220 households with a $4,500 housing voucher, far less than 10 percent of the need.

Social assistance agencies told the county government recently that at least 3,500 tenant households in Arlington have been unable to fully pay their rent in the past few months.  To provide a $4,500 housing voucher to each household to partially pay 3 months of back rent would cost about $16 million.   The number of households needing rental assistance will only rise as the pandemic lasts, and more households use up their savings so it is not unreasonable that 5,000 to 8,000 households will need rental assistance to avoid eviction.

Where could the county government quickly find $16 million in housing assistance funds without raising taxes?   The county board continues to fund  $18 million in construction costs to build new subsidized apartments in FY 2021 which have yet to approved or begun.  The county board should use this $18 million to fund housing vouchers for the 3,500 and rising households in Arlington who will face eviction shortly.

In addition to rental assistance, many households need food, and the Arlington food bank and church pantries are overwhelmed with tens of thousands of people asking for food.  A typical Arlington two-person household would likely need to spend at least $100 per week for food or $400 per month.   To meet half of the food needs of 5,000 households, would cost $3 million for 3 months.   The county has yet to provide even $1 million more in food aid.

The county government wastes far too many dollars on unneeded vanity projects including lavish subsidies to developers and business, and expensive new and often unneeded buildings.   The county can certainly find the $25 million or so that is now needed for rent and food assistance and get rid of bloated and unneeded expenses.

Queens Court

 

 

 

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April 18, 2020

Arlington Greens meet online on Wed, May 6, 7 pm on Zoom

Our May meeting will be held online on Zoom on Wednesday, May 6, at 7 pm.

Email us for the meeting ID and password and join us online.    Email   Info@greensofarlington.org

Special guest and speaker:  Susan Cunningham, independent candidate for Arlington County Board of Supervisors election in July.   She will speak about her ideas and platform for the county board; questions and answers follow.
Topics that follow this discussion:
Outcome of Arlington Greens campaign to get Arlington County Board to approve $10 million for rent and food emergency assistance for Arlington residents who lost jobs in the pandemic
Arlington Community Energy Plan–next steps
Outcome of Virginia Green Party voting for preference for national green presidential candidates
Join us.
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April 14, 2020

Proposed Arlington County Covid Emergency Food and Rent Spending of $2.7 million should be raised to at least $22 million

Affordable Housing,hunger — @ 12:55 pm

The Arlington County manager on April 6 proposed that Arlington County spend $2.7 million for emergency food and rental and eviction assistance to residents affected by Covid virus.   The manager  proposed spending $7.5 million for small business, tourism, new services, and help for Arlington County employees.  Business thus gets three times the help that unemployed and desperate county residents get for shelter and food.

Even devoting the full $10 million to just emergency rental and food assistance with none for small business and tourism, will not meet the needs of the estimated 8,000 of Arlington residents who lost their jobs and incomes, and now cannot afford to pay rent and buy food.  Evictions and hunger should be the first priority for any county emergency Covid spending, and not business or tourism.

In March, the Arlington Greens had asked the county board to spend at least $10 million for emergency housing grants and grocery gift cards for residents, but that amount as the virus has continued and closed business continues, is inadequate.

Nearly 13-percent (16 million people) of the U.S. workforce are now unemployed, and filed for unemployment compensation, owing to Covid virus.  About 120,000 Arlington residents are employed in recent years, meaning that at the 13-percent rate 16,000 Arlington resident are furloughed or unemployed.  Assuming that half of these receive no pay, then about 8,000 Arlington residents have lost their income.

The County Board should be prepared to spend $22 million now for emergency food and rental assistance, and then expand this as the need continues.   The county manager has wisely called for the county to postpone most long term spending in fy 2021.   School and county infrastructure building can resume in fy 2022 or later.

Within the $43 million housing assistance budget spent last year in fy 2020 are $16 million to build new apartments (AHIF), and $2 million for housing and community development.   The county board should halt the building of any new housing or development, and transfer this $18 million to the housing grants program that now was funded for $9 million.  This additional $18 million could fund 3,600 households with a $5,000, one-time housing rental grant that would pay for roughly 3 months of back rent.  A $4,000 grant could help 4,500 households with  an $18 million fund.

With regard to food needs, a two-person household would likely need to spend at least $100 per week for food or $800 over 2 months.  To help 5,000 households, would cost $4 million for the 2 months.

In summary, the county board at a minimum should divert $18 million from its housing construction budget to emergency rental grants, and also provide $4 million in emergency grocery gift cards to the thousands of Arlington residents who find themselves facing eviction and hunger.

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March 19, 2020

Petition to the Arlington County Board Asking for $10 million for More Rental Housing Grants and Emergency Food Help for Arlington Residents Facing Eviction and Hunger Owing to Coronavirus

Affordable Housing,hunger — @ 11:53 am

Please sign our petition below–to sign go to:     http://chng.it/mxbFRgLNmg

Arlington Greens have initiated this petition to the Arlington County Board, Arlington Virginia, asking them to approve $10 million to provide $9 million in emergency housing (rental) grants and $1 million for emergency grocery gift cards for Arlington residents who have lost their income because of the coronavirus and face possible eviction and hunger.

Arlington County’s housing grants program today helps about 1,200 low income rental households.   We propose that the county board add $9 million to this rental grants program to pay all or some of the rent that lower income Arlington renters face owing to loss of their jobs or incomes because of the virus.

About 55 percent of Arlington residents are renters; 70,000 Arlington renters earn under 60-percent area median income (under $50,000 yearly for a single person), and many of these renters have no paid sick leave, and/or work in businesses that will close or are closed with the virus.   Many will need help.

The Arlington Department of Human Services (DHS) can easily give out these rental vouchers and emergency grocery gift cards to Arlington residents who are facing dire financial hardship owing to loss of their job or income because of the virus.   The amount of the rental voucher and amount of grocery gift amount would vary depending on the financial need of the household.

 

Queens Court

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March 13, 2020

Tear downs and Large Energy Wasteful Houses Contribute to Rising Carbon Emissions in Arlington

Development,environment — @ 4:31 pm

Energy use in Arlington for homes has been rising over the past few years, in part fueled by more residents but also by changes in the size of new houses being built, particularly detached houses.  The 9-percent rise in residents in Arlington during 2010-18 increased use of electricity and natural gas in apartments and houses, but so did having more new McMansions.[1]  During 2010-18, residential use of electricity in Arlington rose 3 percent to 809 million kilo watt hours (kwhs), while use of natural gas rose 28 percent to 91 million therms. [2]

The average house in the United State has about 1,971 square feet of living space; the average house in Virginia is slightly larger at 2,227 square feet, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.[3]  The larger the living area, the more energy is required to heat, cool, and power devices and appliances in that space.

In Arlington over the past decade or so, more and more older detached houses, generally with under 1,500 square feet of living space, are torn down, and replaced by a new 4,000 or larger square foot house.  In 2019, the number of such tear downs amounted to 158.[4]

While the new house may have better insulation and often more energy saving appliances than the demolished house, the much larger living space overwhelms any such energy efficiency savings.  Studies of energy use in U.S. houses indicate that a 4,000 square foot house uses about 160 percent more electricity than a 1,500 square foot house, and about 76 percent more natural gas, as outlined here.[5]

Energy use by size of house in the United States:

Size of house                   Electricity    Natural gas    Combined Carbon 

(Annual in kwhs)  (Annual in therms)    (Metric tons)

Average 1,500 ft2 house     12,000                   10                       8.9

Average 4,000 ft2 house     31,200                   18                     22.0

Increase (percent)               160                          76                      146

 

From a carbon emissions basis, the larger house uses 146 percent more carbon than the 1,500 square foot house.   The larger house is 167 percent larger in living space, but uses about 146 percent more carbon.  Thus, standard building or appliance efficiency does not overcome the effects of the larger living space.   A new larger house would need to cut its emissions by 146 percent and that would require solar panels, much better insulation, geothermal heating and cooling, and other passive building technology.

[1] The population of Arlington rose 9 percent from 207,000 to 225,000, according to Arlington County VA,  Profile 2018, and Profile 2008 https://arlingtonva.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/31/2018/04/2018Profile.pdf

[2] A therm is the heat value of natural gas; 100 cubic feet of gas (CCF) equal 1.036 therms.

[3]  U.S. Dept. of Energy,  “Household energy use in Virginia,” based on 2009 data,  www.eia.gov/consumption/residential

[4] Arlington County, “Quarterly Development Tracking Report,” for 2019, https://projects.arlingtonva.us/data-research/development/quarterly-tracking-report/

[5] Natural gas use data from Http://pemc.coop, and electricity use from https://comparepower.com/kwh-electricity-energy-usage-calculator/  Energy data were converted to carbon equivalents as follows:  1,000 therms equals 5.3 metric tons of carbon; 1,423 kwhs equals 1 metric ton of carbon.  Source:  EPA.

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February 26, 2020

Why is the State of Virginia Giving $37 million to Coal Companies to Mine more Coal?  Why are we taxpayers subsidizing more coal production in Virginia?

environment — @ 5:34 pm

If one completes their Virginia income taxes this year, they may note an obscure tax credit listed on the tax form called “the Virginia Coal and Production Incentive Tax Credit” that gives a tax credit to Virginia mining companies (up to $3 per ton of coal mined).  (Code of VA 58.1-433.1)  In the latest year for which data are available (2015), the State of Virginia gave out $37 million to 56 corporations to subsidize their mining of coal.  This tax boondoggle started in 1988, and has given out so far over $610 million to coal owners and operators.   Yes $600 million to encourage more coal mining in our state.

Mountain top coal removal in WVA, from EarthJustice

Given our climate emergency, one would have thought that encouraging more coal mining is the last thing on Earth we Virginia taxpayers should be doing.  The Virginia Sierra Club and the Virginia Conservation Network have repeatedly called for ending this tax subsidy for coal mine owners and operators. http://www.vcnva.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/HB2198.pdf  But, the Virginia General assembly has refused to stop this carbon emission madness.

What if this $37 million each year was given to homeowners as a $1,000 tax credit to install their own solar panels or put in $1,000 of insulation and weatherization in their home?   This would help 37,000 Virginia homeowners lower their utility bills either through solar panels or just more weatherization and insulation.   The home owners’ utility bills would be markedly lower, and so would carbon emissions in Virginia.

Alternatively, this $37 million or a portion of it could be used to pay for re-training, pensions, and re-location of Virginia coal miners who lose their jobs inevitably.  There are only about 2,000 coal miners left in Virginia, and their days of employment coming to an end.  The State of Virginia could re-train the younger ones, and provide pensions to older workers unable to retain or to relocate to an area in Virginia with low unemployment

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February 21, 2020

Arlington Greens will meet on Wednesday, March 4, at 7 pm, Ballston Firehouse

Arlington Greens will meet at the Ballston Firehouse Community Room (located at George Mason Drive and Wilson Blvd).
Major topics are:
Outcome of our March 2 Green Buildings Certification talk by professor John Scofield
Next steps for the Arlington Community Energy Plan including our advocacy for local powers to require new green buildings
County board and school board openings this year
Virginia Green Party nominees for president
Affordable housing–advocacy for housing grants at March county board budget hearing in late March
Plan to attend.   Any Arlington resident can join at the meeting–membership is $5 a year.   Public can attend but cannot vote.
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February 5, 2020

Are LEED Commercial Buildings Really Green–Talk by Oberlin College professor with Q&A

Development,environment,Events — @ 12:30 pm

Measured Energy Savings & Greenhouse Gas Emissions from LEED-Certified Buildings, Talk by Oberlin College Professor John Scofield, followed by Q&A on implications for 2020 Arlington Energy Plan for Carbon Neutrality

Monday, March 02 at 7-9 PM  Arlington Central Library   (1015 N. Quincy Street)  Arlington, VA 22203

Oberlin College professor John Scofield, a national expert on U.S. green building certification, will speak about his research on energy savings and greenhouse gas emissions from LEED buildings that demonstrate such building certifications do not significantly reduce emission from commercial buildings.   Discussion follows on Arlington County’s own green building program, and the forthcoming 2020 Community Energy Plan in Arlington that proposes to make Arlington carbon neutral.  Attendance is free.   EcoAction Arlington is co-sponsor with the Arlington Greens.   Attendance is free.

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January 20, 2020

Arlington landlords should fully accept HUD and county rental housing vouchers

Affordable Housing — @ 1:03 pm

The Arlington Tenant-Landlord Commission is considering asking the Arlington County Board to change the Arlington Human Rights Ordinance to ban landlords from refusing to accept government funded housing vouchers/grants for low income renters, the majority of whom are seniors and disabled persons.   Arlington Greens support HUD vouchers and expansion of county-funded housing grants as a means to expand affordable housing in Arlington for renters earning under 50%-area median income.

We encourage Arlington residents to attend the Wednesday, February 12 meeting of the Tenant-Landlord Commission, and speak in favor of this requiring landlords to accept government assistance to help low income renters.  The T-L Commission meeting begins at 7 pm at 2100 Clarendon Boulevard, Arlington, Va (adjacent to Courthouse Metro), first floor Azalea Room.  https://commissions.arlingtonva.us/events/tenant-landlord-commission-meeting-5-2020-02-12/

The Greens sent the following letter of support:

To: Kellen M. MacBeth
Chair, Arlington Tenant-Landlord Commission

We support a recommendation from the T-L commission to the County Board recommending that the human rights ordinance be modified to require landlords to accept government housing grants and vouchers, whether from the Federal Government or the county.  This would rectify this discrimination against low income persons, most of whom are seniors and disabled persons.   The decision of some landlords today to refuse to accept such government funds that help low income renters in Arlington is de facto discrimination, and should be banned under our Arlington County human rights ordinance.

Wide spread acceptance by landlords across Arlington of housing grants and vouchers will allow tenants to rent across our county and provide tenants with more options for housing; it will also facilitate more housing grants be funded as a means to address our affordable housing problem.   If the county board choose to fund more housing grants, then there need to be landlords who will accept them.
A landlord needs to operate under our human rights ordinance that already bars discrimination today on the basis of gender, race, sexual orientation, etc. and to this list of banned practices should be a landlords refusal to treat government housing assistance as just another form of income.   The landlord will be assured of payment from the government and will suffer no harm by receiving a government payment.   It is in our residents’ interests that landlords be barred from refusing to accept these government payments.
We look forward to supporting your recommendation with the County Board as well.

The Arlington Greens

Queens Court

 

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January 9, 2020

Greens ask Virginia General Assembly to give Arlington local powers over energy/environmental building codes

Development,environment — @ 5:55 pm

At the January 7 meeting, Arlington Greens agreed to ask Arlington state delegates and state senators to support granting Arlington County local powers over energy/environmental building codes so that Arlington can achieve carbon emissions cut set by Paris Climate Treaty.  We ask that Greens and community members also contact their delegates and senators to support this common sense environmental legislation:

Petition to Arlington state delegates and state senators, January 2020 on allowing local authority to achieve environmental/energy plan

To:   Virginia General Assembly Delegates Patrick Hope, Alfonso Lopez, Mark Levine, Rip Sullivan, and State Senators Barbara Favola, Adam Ebin, and Janet Howell:

As residents of Arlington, we ask that you support environmental legislation in this session of the General Assembly that would allow the Arlington County Board of Supervisors to modify the existing Virginia building codes so as to strengthen energy savings and environmental protection for any buildings in Arlington.   We ask that Arlington be permitted a local option to override Virginia State building codes so that Arlington can fulfill its Community Energy Plan that would meet the required carbon emissions stipulated in the Paris Climate Treaty.  The Arlington County Board approved its community energy plan in September 2019, but does not have the full authority under state law today to implement it.

The Virginia Board of Housing and Community Development (BHCD) has repeatedly failed (as recently as 2017) to approve the minimal International Environmental Conservation Code that would have achieved at least a 30 percent savings in energy use in new buildings, and thus new buildings in Virginia are very energy wasteful.

Arlington County needs authority to require builders of new structures to meet stringent energy savings including carbon neutral buildings, mandating geothermal and solar voltaic panels, enhanced insulation, among other features in order to meet its community energy plan goal to have a carbon neutrality goal by 2050.  It cannot do this since 80 percent of carbon emissions in Arlington occurs in buildings without stricter building codes.

We therefore act that authority be delegated to Arlington County or to any other jurisdiction that may also want to implement its own strict environmental energy plan (such as the City of Alexandria) to strengthen building codes so as to achieve energy savings and thus meet environmental goal on carbon emissions.

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