Missing Middle Housing Study: Process, Scope, & Timeline


The Missing Middle Housing Study will investigate the possible role of missing middle housing in increasing Arlington County’s housing supply and diversifying its range of housing choices. This investigation occurs in the context of the Housing Arlington program and will synergize with other efforts that fall under the Housing Arlington umbrella. Shaped by community feedback and informed by research, the study’s scope of work acknowledges that the community may identify housing affordability as an additional priority during the study. Guiding the study will be the importance of addressing how to modify a currently exclusionary land use framework—one that, without intentional policy updates over time, has furthered racial disparities in Arlington in access to housing and opportunity—to align with the County’s diverse and inclusive vision.


The demand for housing in the Washington metropolitan region is high. In Arlington, the amount of housing and the range of housing choices are limited. As detailed in the Missing Middle Housing Study Research Compendium, the County’s Metro and Planning Corridors (Rosslyn-to-Ballston, Columbia Pike, and Richmond Highway) provide medium and high-density multi-family housing. Other neighborhoods provide single-family homes, townhouses, and a limited quantity of two- and three-family dwellings and smaller apartment communities. But these existing housing types do not meet all community needs. The County’s 2018 Big Idea Roundtables and the 2019 Housing Arlington Community Conversation Series made clear that Arlington residents are frustrated by rising housing costs and lack of housing options.


The Missing Middle Housing Study is envisioned in three phases:

  • Phase 1 – Developing a common understanding of Arlington’s housing challenges and community priorities;
  • Phase 2 – Focused study of housing types that address the County’s housing shortage and limited range of housing options;
  • Phase 3 – Consideration of how to implement the conclusions of the previous phases, possibly leading to recommendations to amend the Zoning Ordinance, the Comprehensive Plan, and other policies and work programs.

Robust community participation will be embedded in all phases of the study. While the refined scope of work upholds the early engagement goals of broad, equitable participation and the establishment of a community partner network, community feedback has resulted in incorporation of additional communication with stakeholder groups and technical experts. Specifically, a technical advisory group will serve as a sounding board for staff in analyzing community concerns and drafting reports.


Study Phases, Milestones, and Timeline

MMHS Timeline April2021

Background: Development of Study Scope

From January to March 2020, County staff shared a draft scope of work and an accompanying webinar and met with advisory boards and commissions to collect feedback. Staff also received input from the broader community through an online form. During the same period, County Board members met with civic associations and other community groups. The feedback gathered at meetings and online resulted in the following updates to the final scope and charge:

  • Focus on importance of addressing exclusionary land use framework to align with County vision
  • Focus on benefits of missing middle housing (good design, walkability, diversity of housing choice, economic sustainability)
  • Commitment to goals of increasing housing supply and choice, clarifying that affordability may be identified as an additional community priority during the study
  • Commitment to Countywide scope, clarifying that the study is not looking only at single-family detached neighborhoods
  • Refinements to the study process, including additional check-ins with stakeholder groups and technical experts
  • Selection of technical advisory group comprised of commission representatives and additional community professionals

Draft Scope of Work and Feedback