The United Way of Alexandria recommended last week that certain types of housing be required to include units for low - and middle-income persons.
The recommendation, outlined in a report of a year-long study by the United Way's housing task force, was announced at a press conference by James Moran, chairman of the task force.
Under the proposal, which is similar to a Montgomery County ordinance, low- and moderate-income housing would have ot total 15 percent of the units in any new housing construction of more than 50 units, except for single-family developments and high-rise apartment buildings, and in any apartment complex being converted to condominiums. In addition, the proposal would provide developers with incentives such as tax deductions and zoning modifications.
The task force report, while urging adoption of such plan, recognized that a similar ordinance in Fairfax County, which did not include condominium conversions, was ruled unconstitutional by the Virginia Supreme Court.
When asked the chances that such an ordinance would be approved, Moran said, "I have no optimism that the City Council will be the engine for this train. I hope they'll be the caboose after we've developed grass - roots support fot it."
The 12-member volunteer task force included civic leaders, citizens and representatives from the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority, the Economic Opportunities Commission and the Community Development Block Grant Office.
The study was initiated against a backdrop of changing demographic statistics in the city, escalating housing costs and increasing condominium conversions, which has taken much of the low - and moderate-income housing off the market.
The number of single persons living in Alexandria has nearly tripled since 1960, the study reports, and the ratio of blocks to whites has steadily increased. According to the report, minorities now made up 25 percent of Alexandria's population.
"The city is becoming increasingly occupied by young white adults who live in rental apartments or condominiums and low -in-come black families with school-age children and elderly people with fixed incomes," the report states.
The task force applauds the city for its maximum use of federal funds. "We think we have a mighty fine city in terms of its commitment to housing," Moran said, "but it's not enough for the elderly, for young families or low-income people who have come to this city as a last resort."
The task force does not recommend a change in the amount of public housing (currently 1,017 units) but does recommend that the city housing authority explore ways to make maximum use of the units.
It points out that only 25 percent of welfare recipients live in public housing and that the current occupancy "appears to include many families who are not in need of publicly assisted housing."
The task force recommended that the lease for each unit be reviewed every five years to help identify persons whose income makes them no longer eligible for such housing.
The report also recommended that the housing authority set up a fund to assist moderate - income families in buying homes by providing loans for down payments.
The report pinpointed the need for a housing counselling service, which could provide information to persons interested in forming cooperatives.
Counselling services are also needed, according to the report, to report, to assist organizations trying to set up homes for groups with special needs, such as the emotionally disturbed. It suggests that the United Way provide workshops to educate such organizations in procedures that promote neighborhood acceptance of group homes.
In dealing with condominium conversions, the report recommended that the planning commission limit the number of units allowed to convert in any year.
The study found that deteriorating conditions forced the closing of the Shirley Duke Apartments and urged the city to enforce the rental permit system and the housing hygiene code to prevent similar problems.
The task force also urged the state of Virginia to permit greater flexibility to local governments in setting income limits for tax and rent aid to the elderly.