Arlington Reaffirms Commitment to Fair Housing Practices

Published on September 16, 2020

Arlington will continue to follow the federal government's 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, despite the federal government's July 2020 action to rescind that rule within the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the County Board said in a resolution approved at its September 15 Recessed Meeting.

"We know that the coronavirus pandemic has disproportionately affected Black and Brown people," Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey said, "Today, with the pandemic still spreading, disproportionate numbers of Black and Brown renters and homeowners are in danger of losing their homes. Now is the time to redouble our efforts to address historic and ongoing housing discrimination — not dismantle the progress that has been made. Arlington will continue to use a data-driven approach to assess fair housing and planning actions to address disparities, integrate communities, eliminate concentrated areas of poverty, and encourage compliance with civil rights and fair housing laws."

The Board voted unanimously to adopt a resolution saying it will model its upcoming Consolidated Planning process on the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing model. The resolution notes the County believes that "data-driven analysis and robust community engagement helps communities identify and address barriers for immigrants, people with disabilities, and families with children, while also addressing historic and ongoing patterns of discrimination, segregation, or disinvestment based on race and other protected classes." The new federal rule, in contrast, "ignores the history of segregation in housing policy, downplays discrimination, and decimates accountability by HUD and local jurisdictions to further fair housing is a drastic departure from the 2015 AFFH rule, which created a data-driven approach to assessing fair housing and planning actions to address disparities, integrate communities, eliminate concentrated areas of poverty, and encourage compliance with civil rights and fair housing laws."

The resolution notes that the Board is committed to collaborating with other jurisdictions on a regional Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing, initiated in 2017, "to ensure we are doing all that we can to affirmatively further fair housing goals."

Missing Middle Housing Study

The Board's reaffirmation of its commitment to fair housing comes as the County moves forward with its Missing Middle Housing Study. The study is meant to identify ways to increase the supply and diversity of housing and is one element of the County's multi-pronged Housing Arlington umbrella program, which seeks to address housing affordability on multiple fronts, including planning and implementation tools, housing policy, financial resources, and innovative local and regional public-private partnerships.

The Board will hold a virtual work session on the scope and framework for the Missing Middle Housing Study at 3 p.m. on September 22. The study is expected to launch in October 2020. The work session will be live-streamed on the County website, and on the County's YouTube channel. It also will be broadcast on the County's cable channel, ATV, on Comcast Xfinity 25 or 1085 (HD) and Verizon FiOS 39 & 40. The Board will not be taking public testimony during its work session.

County planning staff released the draft scope of work for the Missing Middle Housing Study for community review in January 2020. Staff will share an updated scope of work with the County Board at the work session, which has been revised as a result of community comment.

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