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February 14, 2018

Greens support more housing (rental) grants for low income Arlington residents

Affordable Housing — @ 5:43 pm

Arlington Greens adopted a resolution at their February 2018 meeting calling on the Arlington County Board to provide more funding in FY 2019 for low income housing (rental) grants to the lowest income Arlington residents.

Today there are 15,000 Arlington renter households earning under 50-percent AMI, most of whom receive no housing assistance in any form. Housing rental grants are the county’s single most effective housing assistance program. A recent HUD study found that housing grants in the United States were 72 percent less expensive than building new subsidized apartments called CAFs.

In 2018, the county was only able to help 276 new households with a new expensive committed affordable unit (CAF) which is 354 households short of the county affordable housing goal, and short 1,000 over the past 3 years. CAFs are just too expensive to be affordable and numerous.

Greens support funding 750 more housing grants of $300 per month to help the lowest income Arlington renters (those earning less than 40 percent of the area median income (AMI)). The cost of $3 million a year can be obtained by shifting funds from the real estate tax relief (RETR) program for affluent homeowners by changing their tax relief from tax exemption to tax deferral.

In FY 2018, the county spent $9.2 million for housing grants for 1,249 households—a quarter of whom are families with a child, about half are disabled persons, and a quarter, seniors over 65. The average beneficiary family earned $27,000, and a disabled person or senior over 65 earned about $14,000 a year. Their total assets must be less than $35,000 and an income below $33,000 for a single person.

The real estate tax relief program in FY 2018 spent $4.4 million for tax exemption or tax deferral of property taxes to benefit 932 households (each receiving an average $4,700 benefit) of seniors and disabled persons who can earn up to $100,000 a year (130 percent AMI for a single person), and can have personal assets up to $540,000, in addition to their residence.

These property owners should be granted tax deferral of their property taxes rather than tax exemption. These property owners would pay no real estate tax until the property is sold. There is no financial burden on the household, and our rising property values insure that even these deferred taxes will be paid without a net cost to property owner in the future

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