The biggest problem facing Arlingtonians, by many measures, is the cost of housing. If you don’t have it, and you’re not financially well-off, you can be in for a long, painful search.
The median income in the county is a healthy $110,000, but for the half of the population who make less than that, finding a home or apartment is fraught with tradeoffs. “Affordable” housing options usually are targeted at those who make 60 to 80 percent of the median income. For those who make lower or minimum wages, the problem is even worse.
“It is only with three incomes that we are able to afford the apartment we found after five months of searching,” Bolivian immigrant Emma Chipani, who owns a cleaning business, told nearly 300 people at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church Saturday, according to Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement.
That group is urging the county to improve its housing assistance and promises to organize dozens of meetings, research available public land, come up with a list of possible “dedicated revenue” and in the fall return with 600 people to make a proposal to the County Board.
Further down the income ladder are those who are already homeless. A-SPAN, the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network, recently received a $93,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide housing and case management for six chronically homeless adults in Arlington.
Arlington County government spends $6.4 million per year, providing rent subsidies of about $535 to people with low incomes, disabilities or those over the age of 65 in either category. Demand for assistance is growing and the County Board is considering what to do about it.