• For more information on Green Party membership or to contact Green Party leadership, email info@greensofarlington.org Join the Arlington Greens on Wednesday Sept. 4 2019 at 7:30 pm at Ballston Firehouse Community Room (George Mason Drive & Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA)

August 1, 2019

Arlington Greens meet on Wednesday, Sept. 4, 7:30 pm at Ballston Firehouse Community Room

Arlington Greens next meeting will be held on September 4, 2019, Wednesday, at 7:30 pm in the community room of the Ballston Firehouse located at the corner of George Mason Drive and Wilson Boulevard, Arlington VA, about 1 mile from the Ballston Metro station.

The public is cordially invited to attend, but only members may vote on issues. Any Arlington resident can join at the meeting; annual dues are $5.

Agenda for main topics:

Westover Apartments historic preservation

Arlington Community energy plan–how to reduce Arlington’s carbon output

November election update

Arlington rental housing vouchers expansion

Plan to attend.

Green Hour Cable TV program on Arlington Independent Media

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July 30, 2019

Lawsuit filed against Arlington County for Blocking Historic Preservation of Westover Village in Arlington

John Reeder, a longtime Arlington community activist and chairman of the Arlington Green Party, filed a lawsuit on July 30 against the Arlington County Board of Supervisors for their refusal to complete the historic preservation review of Westover Village Apartments begun three years ago. The lawsuit asks an Arlington County judge to order the County Board to complete the local historic review process, as required under Virginia’s historic preservation law. Local historic preservation would prevent any further demolitions of existing buildings.


Digital Camera

Westover Village containing garden apartments, a shopping center, schools, a church, and small detached houses, was built mostly during the World War II era for Arlington residents working for the U.S. military and Government; most residents today are renters in the remaining about 700 moderate-cost garden apartments. The National Trust for Historic Preservation in 2006 designated the Village a national historic district, owing to its historic significance and architecture of the late 19th and 20th Century Revivals/Colonial Revival. In the past few years, a developer demolished eleven apartment buildings with about 90 units, and eliminated all adjacent mature old trees and green space.

The petition to initiate the local historic review of Westover Village was filed by Reeder in June 2016, and later supported by 160 Arlington residents. The county Historic Affairs and Landmark Review Board (HALRB) then found that the proposed historic district met at least two of the required criteria for local historic designation. But then later, the HALRB halted any the review until the county board completed an unrelated zoning ordinance (the Housing Conservation Districts) that remains unfinished today. The proposed zoning ordinance was a pretext for delay, and unrelated to local historic designation which must strictly conform to the State of Virginia law on historic preservation.

The lawsuit asks for no monetary compensation, but rather for an order from the judge compelling the county board to expeditiously complete the historic review process after a 3-year delay as required by state law. Eleven buildings in the Village have been demolished to date, four since the petition was filed three years ago.

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February 20, 2019

Arlington County Should add $3 million to assist at least 400 More Arlington Very-Low Income Households with a Housing Rental Grant in its FY 2020 Budget

Arlington Greens at their February meeting voted to support asking the Arlington County Board to add $3 million more for low-income rental (housing) grants that could help 400 or more households in Arlington in 2020.

With $3 million in funding, at least 400 more housing grants should be provided to people who are termed “extremely low income” (those earning 40-percent or less of the area median income (AMI), by lowering the current minimum age for seniors from age 65 to 50, and by eliminating other arbitrary restrictions that block thousands of such extremely low income Arlington renters from just applying for a rental grant.

There are currently 15,000 Arlington renter households—about 30,000 people who are considered as “very low income”–earning under 50-percent AMI, and nearly two-thirds of whom do not receive housing assistance in any form, and face a heavy housing cost burden. This forces them to apply for other forms of assistance from faith communities, the Arlington food bank (AFAC), and other forms of emergency assistance from the county and charities. Housing rental grants are the county’s single most effective and cheapest (per dollar of benefits given versus the cost of administration) housing assistance program, and benefits can vary per household depending on need, and amount of funding available.

In 2015, the Arlington County Board adopted its Affordable Housing Master Plan that set a yearly goal of helping an additional 630 more households in Arlington who earn under 60-percent AMI with housing assistance. The county was only able to aid 246 new households in the most recent year, and cut the number of households getting a housing grant by 30. About 1,215 households applied for a housing grant in FY 2019, a drop of about 400 from the 1,624 households who applied in FY 2015.

The two primary housing assistance programs in Arlington funded by local tax dollars are the affordable housing investment fund that subsidizes construction of mostly new apartment units (“committed affordable units (CAFs)”) ($13.7 million funding in FY 2019), and the separate housing grants program that provides rental grants for very low income seniors, families with a child or disabled persons ($8.7 million in funding in FY 2019).

In the most recent year for which data are available (FY 2017), the county was able to add only 276 new CAFs, and has rarely added even 300 per year. The extraordinary high cost of building new units (averaging well over $350,000 per unit), and the number of years and difficulty it takes to build such units are major impediments to adding more CAFs. In addition, virtually no persons earning 40-percent AMI or less can qualify to rent a CAF because of their extremely low incomes. The new CAF program does not help extremely low income renters in Arlington for the most part.

In FY 2019, the county will spend $8.7 million for housing grants for 1,180 households—half of whom are disabled persons; one quarter are seniors over 65; and the remaining one quarter are families with a child. The average monthly grant is about $600 a month; the average rent in Arlington is about $2,000 per month. The average beneficiary family earned $27,000; a disabled person or a senior over 65 earned about $14,000 a year. The maximum income allowed for a housing grant is 40-percent AMI. In FY 2019, the county cut funding for housing grants by about $446,000 from FY 2018, and thus 30 fewer households got a housing grant.


The disposable income available per month for non-rental expenses for an Arlington family receiving a housing grant in FY 2018 was $930 without the grant, and $1,490 with a grant. A person with a disability with a housing grant had a disposable income available for non-rental expenses of only $50 per month without a grant, but $675 with a grant. For a senior receiving a grant, their disposable income for non-rental expenses was $102 without a grant and $677 with a grant. It would have been impossible for these households to live in Arlington, but for the housing grant.

Therefore, Arlington Greens call on Arlington County to provide $3 million more in funds in FY 2020 to its housing grants program that will allow at least 400 very low income households to receive a housing grant in Arlington. Far more than 400 households could be assisted with this $3 million if the monthly grant per household was reduced from its current $600 per month. An expanded housing grants program will allow Arlington County to finally reach its own goal of aiding at least 630 additional households in Arlington with housing assistance per year.

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January 12, 2019

Amazon HQ2–Housing Costs May Rise by 15-20% and Housing Cost Burden Heavier on Tenants

Assuming that Amazon does open its 25,000 employee office in Crystal City, Arlington residents most of whom are renters, should plan on a substantial increase in rents and housing costs. A recent forecast by a local realtor with McEnearney Brokers indicates that housing costs may rise in the 15-20 percent range as a direct result of HQ2. (http://www.mcenearney.com/blog/2018/11/impact-amazons-hq2-move-northern-virginia/). This rise will not happen over night as it will take a number of years before most of these 25,000 employees are hired (and as many as another 10,000 support workers are added), but it is clear that renters are going to be jeopardized.


Current home owners will reap an unexpected windfall, but only when they sell their residence and in the meantime will pay higher property taxes. Most homeowners are not interested in selling and leaving Arlington in the immediate future, and so they will experience an increase in their property taxes which now average about $7,000 a year. Homeowners–expect to pay another $1,000 to 1,400 a year in taxes.

Renters, who are about 55 percent of Arlington residents, are going to be severely impacted, and there is no upside for them but simply paying higher rents. The McEnearney analysis does not specifically indicate how much rents will rise, but indicates areas close to Crystal City both in Arlington and Alexandria will experience the highest rent pressure. It is certainly prudent to expect rents to rise by at least by half the rise expected for prices of homes and condos: this would mean a rent increase of 7-10 percent.

The average rent in Arlington in 2017 was about $2,000 per month for an apartment, and thus renters should expect a $140 to 200 a month increase in rents charged. Rents are much higher in high rise buildings (above $2,500) and lower in garden apartments ($1,800) so the effect will vary but most of the apartments in Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yards are high rises.

There are fewer than 2,000 market rate apartments that are affordable to anyone earning 60-percent or less of the area median income in Arlington, and virtually none in these three areas. In 2013, there were 17,000 households earning 60% or less of the area median income (AMI) ($51,000 for a couple) who account for 30 percent of Arlington residents. (Arlington County Affordable Housing Master Plan, p. 37).

Most renters today earning 60 percent or less of the area median income are housing cost burdened, meaning they are paying more than one third of their income for rent. Another $200 a month in rent is going to further their housing burden, and in many cases they will leave Arlington for cheaper, far suburban areas like Loudon or Prince William Counties.

Arlington County Board has proposed to spend an additional $7 million a year to subsidize the construction of 100 units a year (a subsidy of $70,000 per unit). Unfortunately most of the $7 million will be absorbed by the housing builders and developers and only a few people will be able to get into these units.

Meanwhile, a 10-percent rent increase across the 50,000 apartment units in Arlington means that the total rent increase will be in the $100 million range, a great windfall for apartment complex owners but a loss for renters. The county board’s offer of $7 million would only cover an insignificant fraction of the total rent increase, and in essence is just window dressing.

About four years ago the county board adopted the affordable housing master plan with an annual goal of the county providing 630 households earning under 60% AMI with housing assistance to be able to rent an affordable unit in Arlington. https://housing.arlingtonva.us/affordable-housing-master-plan/ unfortunately the county added fewer than 300 units a year, and, last year, cut the amount of financial housing assistance for rental grants for seniors, disabled persons and families with a child, all of whom earn under 40-percent AMI.

The HQ2 will mean a worsening of the housing burden for all Arlington residents, and will disproportionately affect those lowest in income who tend to be black, Latinos, the elderly, the disabled and the young. The HQ2 deal is consistent with the unstated Arlington County’s goal for many years to displace lower income people and replace them with the affluent. It means a whiter, richer, and less diverse community with no place for working people, the elderly or young professional just starting their careers.

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July 23, 2018

County board continues inequitable tax relief program at the expense of needy seniors, families and adult renters

Affordable Housing — @ 12:50 pm

The Arlington County Board refused to modify real estate tax relief in order to target its benefits mostly to lower income seniors at its July 14 meeting. The board continues to reward many homeowners who are rich in wealth and higher income than the vast majority of lower income renters in Arlington. The board loosened restrictions on eligible homeowners costing another $154,000 in lost annual taxes; in April the board cut funding for rental housing grants by $400,000. So the rich get richer and the poor get less.

Arlington Greens had urged the board to limit real estate tax relief for homeowners to tax deferral which would increase county tax revenues by about $3 million annually that could then fund assistance for more needy Arlington residents with other forms of housing assistance, particularly rental grants. Greens urged the board to equalize maximum income levels for both renters and owners to a maximum 80% area median income. Arlington renters who are seniors getting a housing rental voucher have maximum income of 40% AMI, and most actually earn far less than this.

But the county board did the expected, and continues to give out over $4 million a year to homeowners many of whom live in a half million residence and have additional financial assets over $300,000.
This property tax relief program is highly inequitable, and treats Arlington property owners with higher incomes and much higher wealth better than Arlington residents who are renters.

With tax deferral, there would be about $3 million in additional tax revenue that could then be used to expand rental housing grants for elderly, disabled and families by the same amount. The housing rental grants program serves the elderly, disabled and families with a child all of whom earn well under 40 percent area median income (AMI), and who have personal assets under $35,000. The average senior getting a housing grant earns $14,000 a year. In April 2018, the county board cut housing grants by $0.4 million.

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, potentially well over a million dollars in wealth. About $3 million of the program cost occurs owing to tax exemption.

With tax deferral, property owners would pay no real estate tax until the property is sold; there is no financial burden on them as our rising property values insure that even these deferred taxes will be paid without a net cost to these property owners in the future. In general, our real estate tax is about 1 percent of the value of the property, and property values have been rising at 2-3 percent or more annually. It is a significant form of housing assistance to be able to avoid paying taxes for years, and to repay them without interest years later from the proceeds of a capital gain.

The Affordable Housing Master Plan (AHMP) goal is to help an additional 630 more households with housing assistance annually over the next 25 years. The county has never met this goal in any year, and it appears that the goal is mostly just words on a piece of paper without the funds to make it reality.

Housing rental grants are the county’s single most effective housing assistance program. A HUD study found that housing grants in the United States were 72 percent less expensive than building new subsidized apartments—so called committed affordable units or “CAFs.”

The county should give more housing (rental) grants to seniors, disabled and parents with children, and other adults by lowering the current minimum age for seniors from age 65 to 50, and eliminating the other purely arbitrary restrictions that block tens of thousands of Arlington renters from applying for rental grants.

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June 12, 2018

Greens to Arlington County Board: No money for Amazon HQ2

Greens vote: No county funds to Amazon to move its new offices HQ2 to Arlington

At their June 6 meeting, Arlington Greens voted to oppose any county funds for Amazon to move its new office to Arlington. Greens are concerned with the secretive and hidden negotiations between the County Government and Amazon to provide that company with potentially billions of public dollars in order to open a large office complex in Arlington or nearby Alexandria. Greens are very concerned that these public funds will detract from funds now used to support our schools, libraries, public safety, affordable housing assistance, recreation, and the other public programs that make Arlington a great community already. It is bad for democracy to keep the people in the dark.

Community activists have already asked the Arlington County Board to make public its bid for the Amazon headquarters with as many as 60,000 employees. Many of the final top-20 areas being considered by Amazon have made public their bids which range from $4-7 billion. Northern Virginia is one of the top areas Amazon wants; Jeff Bezzos the Amazon owner and the world’s richest man has a mansion in Washington DC and owns the Washington Post. Why does the richest man on the Earth need our county tax dollars?

Greens are concerned that Arlington County cannot afford to waste any dollars on Amazon, given the tight budget approved in April, the rising cost of more school students, more Metrorail funding, and the need for more assistance to renters to be able to stay here. Arlington has 2% unemployment rate today; traffic is considerable and rising. Adding 60,000 employees to our community–none of whom will pay taxes locally–is going to raise rents, increase traffic, and make life miserable for us the county residents, all done with our own tax dollars.

Greens also voted to support a town hall discussion of Amazon sponsored by Our Revolution Arlington on June 21 at Central Library from 7-9 PM (see separate article with details).

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May 18, 2018

Westover Village Historic Preservation—County turns its back on preserving apartments and history

The Arlington County Government affirmed on May 16 that it prefers demolition of 70-year old apartments and their greenspace to their preservation. Their news to Arlington renters and historians: drop dead. The county Historic Affairs Landmark Review (HALRB) Board at the urging of the county staff and manager (and presumably the county board) voted in May to allow the bulldozers to continue to operate in Westover for at least another year.


On May 16, the HALRB refused to designate any of the over 700 units as historic, and instead voted to postpone any action on the historic petition for eight months or more. During 2016-18, a developer demolished garden-apartment buildings with about 100 moderate-cost rental apartments, and the county government refused to do anything to stop the destruction even though it accepts that these apartments are historically significant and contribute the largest number of affordable market-rate rental apartments in any North Arlington neighborhood.

Arlington Greens along with 160 Arlington residents filed a historic preservation petition with Arlington County in June 2016, and the county then began a historic study of historic Westover Village. Then over the next two years, the HALRB held two hearings, and in addition there were a half-dozen other community meetings over Westover historic preservation. Meanwhile, the county professional historic staff who were supposed to prepare a detailed architectural and planning study and inventory of existing historic buildings did nothing.

Now, two years later in May 2018, the HALRB voted to defer any decision for another at least 8 months until the county government implements another ordinance called Housing Conservation District, a novel and new idea never actually tried. The HCD has no legal relation to anything the HALRB is charged with doing under state historic law and county ordinance.

The county staff and board exhibit a bias against keeping older garden apartments in Arlington, and instead favor high rise development including infill in Westover. The county government believes that historic preservation and moderate income apartments are incompatible despite the example in Arlington of two other large historic garden-apartment complexes with many moderate income units, Colonial Village (since 1978) and Buckingham (1980s). Both complexes contain a mix of moderate cost rental units and condos and a mix of income and ethnic groups. Why not in Westover in a historic district? Does every neighborhood have to look like Ballston?

The county board’s bias in favor of developers and against current residents is very clear: build very expensive high rise apartment buildings and demolish existing low rise garden units that house renters. The failed policy of building new subsidized units as affordable housing results from the very high cost of such new units (well over $400,000 each) that then can only be rented to a favored few (generally below 300 households a year) who also generally must earn above $60,000 a year. Lower income renters are virtually all excluded and denied any housing assistance to rent in high cost Arlington.

Preserving existing units in Westover built 70 years ago that have been updated and are generally in good condition but smaller and without the bells and whistles of new units (but also much lower in cost) is a proven way to keep some market-rate, unsubsidized apartments in high cost Arlington which continues to drive away its working income renters.

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May 4, 2018

Westover Village: Historic Preservation Public Hearing on Wed, May 16 at 7:30 PM

Come to the HALRB Public Hearing on Westover
Where: County Office Bldg 2100 Clarendon Blvd
When: Wednesday, May 16, starting at 7:30 PM
Why: Save Westover Apartments


Public Hearing to Consider Historic Designation of Westover Apts

Plan to attend and speak in favor of local historic designation of Westover Village apartments; local designation would prevent demolition of existing market-rate apartment buildings. In the past three years, 11 buildings with 100 apartments were demolished or scheduled for demolition. In their place are now towering million dollar townhouses surrounded by pavement.

Save our neighborhood and trees and green space and our neighbors who are moderate income renters who have lived here since 1940. Arlington must have a place for moderate income renters and not become a place just for the rich.

Historic Designation Preserves Apartments!
• Stop demolitions and keep current affordable rental apartments
• Attend and speak in favor of historic designation at the Arlington County Historic Affairs Landmarks Review Board public hearing on Wednesday, May 16, 2018, starting at 7:30 pm at Arlington County Building, 2100 Clarendon Blvd, https://projects.arlingtonva.us/projects/westover-neighborhood-study/

Meet in front of Westover Post Office at 6:45 PM on May 16 if you need a ride and we will carpool together

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April 5, 2018

Queens Court– Luxury Housing at Public Expense for Not-so-Low Income Renters in Rosslyn, and Crony Capitalism for Well Connected Developers

The county board continued its wasteful policy of throwing public money to developers when it approved on Feb. 22, 2018 about $8 million in local funds for another massive high rise apartment building in Rosslyn, called Queens Court, with another $20 million promised later this year. The project will cost nearly $40 million with this entire amount coming from public sources (the county, VHDA, and HUD).

Queens Court today

This is yet another example of crony capitalism—building a few apartments fit for a queen and giving the developer an excellent profit. The iron triangle, the affordable housing industrial complex, once again produces a white elephant at public expense and short changes tenants and taxpayers.

Arlington County gives tens of millions of dollars annually to developers to build so-called “affordable apartments” that end up not being affordable to the neediest Arlington residents, and mostly just subsidies crony developers and insiders at the expense of taxpayers and low income Arlington renters. Queens Court is aptly named, a luxury complex fit for a queen and the lucky few, and an immediate $3 million profit maker for the developer.

A nonprofit housing developer APAH will tear down the current modest garden apartment complex with 39 units, and build an apartment tower with about 250 units that will mainly (82 percent) go to people earning 60 to 80 percent of the of the area median income (AMI) ($60,000 to 80,000 for a family of four). Exactly 9 units will be rented to the lowest income Arlington residents, those making less than 40 percent AMI ($33,000 for a single or $38,000 for a couple).

The Queen units will cost $440,000 each, a ridiculously high amount compared to the large number of condos available for sale for less. Zillow.com listed 199 condos and townhouses for sale in Arlington in April 2018 for under $440,000, many well under $300,000. Right across the street from Queen Courts is the Crestwood Apartments with 63 units valued at only $230,000 per apartment. Why not just buy the Crestwood Apartments for its 2018 tax assessed value of $15 million?

Queens Court

Only in Arlington would anyone consider $440,000 apartments rented to people mostly making over $60,000 a year as “low income housing.” Somebody earning $60,000 to $80,000 a year is not low income by any standard even in Arlington.

Those who are low income of those earning below 50% AMI. There are now 9,000 households earning less than 50% AMI in Arlington who get no housing assistance at all today. Only 45 units in Queens Court are going to be rented to any of these 9,000 households.

Far more effective are the county’s housing (rental) grants that currently help about 1,200 households of seniors, disabled and families with a child with a monthly housing grant that reduces their rental cost. The program spends about $9 million annually. All of these renters have incomes well below $27,000 a year (30 percent AMI).

Arlington Greens have repeatedly asked the county government to allocate far more of its $38 million in housing assistance to housing (rental) grants. If the county had allocated the $28 million to be spent on Queens Court to housing grants of even $300 a month, then about 7,000 households—all earning under 50% AMI–would have benefitted. Instead 250 households with incomes above $60,000 get to rent a new queen apartment in Rosslyn.

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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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