Missing Middle Housing Study: Process, Scope, & Timeline


Phase 3

Update: On March 22, 2023, the Arlington County Board adopted expanded housing options
     Read the news release
     Read the staff report for the March 18 County Board meeting

In 2020, the County began its Missing Middle Housing Study (MMHS) to explore how new housing types could address Arlington’s shortfall in housing supply. After two years of public engagement, the MMHS has reached its third phase

From September to October 2022, the Arlington County Board hosted 3 Information Sessions (Housing Development and EconomicsHistory and Future of Housing Zoning and Policy, and Planning and Growth) and 20 Community Conversations regarding Missing Middle Housing. Participants had the opportunity to learn, listen, reflect, and share their perspectives with County Board members and neighbors to inform the MMHS process. During each session, comprehensive notes were taken without attribution to any of the participants. View the notes

The Planning Commission's Long Range Planning Committee (LRPC) and Zoning Committee (ZOCO) reviewed draft zoning text and General Land Use Plan amendments in the fall of 2022. This review process resulted in many changes and new options, leading up to public hearings with the Planning Commission and County Board on a request to advertise in December and January.

On January 25, the County Board authorized public hearings to be held in March on proposed Zoning Ordinance and General Land Use Plan amendments. The advertisement sets the parameters for what the Board can consider in March. 

Following public hearings on March 6 and 8, the Planning Commission recommended adoption of the proposed Zoning Ordinance and General Land Use Plan amendments. The County Board held a public hearing on March 18. 

Phase 1

During Phase 1 (Oct. 2020 – Fall 2021) of the Missing Middle Housing Study, the study team relied on community engagement to identify priorities and concerns related to expanding housing supply and choice in Arlington and to determine housing types to study in Phase 2.

Community engagement took the forms of an online kick-off event, a virtual dialogue on the study’s Research Compendium, a virtual listening tour, and two online feedback opportunities.

View Expanding Housing Choice: The Missing Middle Housing Study Phase 1 Report


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.  

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