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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Supervisors approve affordable housing near government center

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a new rent-controlled apartment complex to be built on vacant land that is part of the Fairfax County Government Center campus.

The board entered into a public-private partnership with the Jefferson at Fairfax Corner in 2006. The county is providing the land free to the developer, which will construct and operate the 270-apartment complex. The Jefferson will market the property to county and public schools employees, but, following federal fair housing regulations, the complex will be open to anybody. There has been no date set for when the complex will open.

All the units will be rent-controlled, and residents will have to meet income restrictions. About 20 percent of the studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments will be reserved for people making less than 50 percent of area median income. According to the 2010 Census, the median income for a family of four in Fairfax County is $102,499.

About 50 percent of the units will be reserved for people earning 90 percent or 100 percent of area median income. The rest of the units will be set aside for people earning 60 percent, 70 percent and 80 percent of area median income. Maximum affordable rents for people earning 65 percent of median income range from $981 for an efficiency to $1,402 for a three bedroom, according to Fairfax County Affordable Dwelling Unit Program documents.

"One of the major factors that is holding us back . . . is bringing workforce housing to Fairfax County," said Supervisor John W. Foust (D-Dranesville), referring to an economic report the board received March 8 that said a lack of housing could hamper economic growth. "This is a major step forward not only from a housing standpoint but also from an economic standpoint."

Supervisor Pat S. Herrity (R-Springfield) unsuccessfully moved to reject the project, which sits in his district. He said he opposes the government subsidy, via the free land, and thinks the complex will unfairly compete with existing private complexes in the Fair Lakes and Fairfax Corner area.

"I do not believe the county should be in the business of subsidizing luxury affordable housing," he said.

County fares better than expected in state budget cuts

State funding passed through to Fairfax County in fiscal 2012 will be about $9.2 million less than in this fiscal year, but county officials said the figure represents something close to the best-case scenario.

In the biennial budget for fiscal 2011 and 2012, approved in 2010, Fairfax County's share of state funding would have declined by $9.9 million.

Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) and the House of Delegates proposed budgets that reduced funding to local governments even further, representing a potential $12.8 million or $16.8 million cut, respectively. As the state's fiscal picture improved because of higher-than-expected revenue, the Virginia Senate tried to restore some of the proposed cuts, which would have meant an $8.3 million reduction in funding for Fairfax County.

After the budget conference session, the General Assembly approved a budget Feb. 27 that includes $9.2 million in local reductions, according to county staff estimates, including a $4.5 million "flexible" reduction that the county can address in a variety of ways. Other funding cuts will affect police, social services and the county's subsidized child care program.

Overall, Fairfax County's share of state funding has declined by more than $34 million from fiscal 2008 levels, according to county staff. State funding represents less than 3 percent of overall county revenues.

- Compiled by Kali Schumitz


© 2011 The Washington Post Company

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