A Fairfax County task force plans to recommend that the county more than triple its current production of low- and moderate-income housing by changing its development policies and offering incentives to private developers.
Taken as a whole, the draft report by a committee composed of builders and civic and business leaders offers the first comprehensive strategy for Fairfax to address the severe shortage of low- and moderate-income housing that has intensified in the county since the Reagan administration started cutting federal housing funds in 1981.
The report recommends that the county establish an annual goal for low-cost housing construction, equivalent to 10 percent of all new housing approved in the previous year.
If that goal is adopted by the County Board of Supervisors, it would result in about 1,000 new units of low-cost housing annually, at the current rate. Housing officials say that fewer than 300 such dwellings now open in Fairfax each year.
The report also recommends that the county board relax some construction standards; increase building densities; encourage apartment complexes near shopping centers, office buildings and Metro stations, and provide interest-free construction financing for low-cost housing through use of federal Community Development Block Grant funds.
Task force members acknowledged yesterday that the recommendations, scheduled to be released next month, are likely to be highly controversial in a county where many politicians and residents have shunned low-cost housing.
"The political realities are that we can put all the goals we want on paper," said Fairfax Supervisor Thomas M. Davis III, who chaired the task force. "But unless you have the appropriate political leadership, nothing's going to get built."
When completed, the report will be presented to the County Board, which created the 24-member task force last year to assess the shortage in low-cost housing in the county. A copy of the draft report was obtained by The Washington Post. Because it has not been made public, it was difficult yesterday to gauge its chance of approval by county supervisors.
The report states that most of its recommendations could be adopted by the county board in two years, although it notes that a few provisions would take longer to implement, and could require action by the Virginia General Assembly.
The report stresses that success in easing the shortage of low-cost housing in Fairfax depends on "the firm commitment of the private sector, particularly developers and the building industry."
Although the report mentions ways to encourage home ownership among moderate-income families, it stresses that increasing the stock of rental apartments for lower-income households should be the county's top housing priority.
Major recommendations include:
Establishing a housing trust fund, financed by developers, corporations and the county, to subsidize interest rates, supplement rent payments and contribute to low-cost housing projects.
Increasing sites for apartments, condominiums and town houses.
Requiring apartments, condominiums and town houses near employment centers.
Allowing developers higher densities for commercial projects in return for cash contributions to low-cost housing projects elsewhere.
Refurbishing county-owned structures for low-cost housing.
Reducing development costs by deferring water and sewer tap charges, starting a building supplies program to lower the cost of materials and enabling home buyers to finish construction work themselves.
The report makes no specific recommendations, however, on where to locate new low-cost housing. That has been the most frequent objection to low-cost housing by most county lawmakers, who balk at placing it in their districts.
For example, the county is now in danger of losing a federal grant of more than $2 million to build 30 units of low-cost housing because officials have been unable to locate an acceptable site for the project.
Politicians and businessmen in Fairfax have stressed in recent years that the shortage of low-cost housing in the county is an impending crisis. Specifically, they have cited the difficulty encountered by blue-collar workers, low-level professionals, the elderly and handicapped who seek affordable housing in Fairfax.
There were 4,000 families on the county's waiting list for housing assistance when it was closed off last fall.