The Board of Supervisors has appointed a committee to oversee spending from a recently approved $18 million annual fund to increase the number of affordable housing units in the county.
The county's budget for the coming fiscal year dedicated almost 1 percent of real estate tax revenue to affordable housing, a significant step toward opening the county to more moderate-income families. The measure is expected to generate about $18 million every year it is in place.
The committee "will ensure that the money is spent properly," said Del. James M. Scott (D-Fairfax), who was appointed co-chairman of the committee along with Conrad Egan, chairman of the county's Redevelopment and Housing Authority.
The committee is also supposed to make recommendations to the Board of Supervisors regarding the fund's priorities and effectiveness, as well as define the term "affordable."
Board Chairman Gerald E. Connolly (D) has made housing one of his top priorities and set a goal of preserving 1,000 affordable units over his four-year term, which ends in 2007. The real estate tax fund is considered critical to this initiative.
Other county programs have helped create some new rent- restricted apartments, but Connolly said those efforts have been undermined by the soaring real estate market, which has more rapidly transformed affordable apartment complexes into higher-priced residences.
He said, for example, that the county's noted Affordable Dwelling Unit program, which requires new-home developers in some circumstances to build affordable units into their projects, has generated about 1,000 units in 12 years.
But over the same time, affordable units in the county have been lost to market forces: In 2001, there were 178 rental complexes in Fairfax that were not subsidized by the government but were considered affordable for a family making $59,000 annually. Now there are 104, according to Paula C. Sampson, director of the county's Department of Housing and Community Development.
For that reason, Connolly said, the focus of the new fund will be on preserving affordable housing -- before it becomes pricey -- though he did not exclude the possibility that the money may go toward projects that create new units.
"The most important thing to do is stabilize the supply," he said. "We've been successful in the past at creating some affordable units, but because of the other losses, we've still been falling behind overall."
The money in the new fund will be available to for-profit or nonprofit groups who need some help purchasing and preserving -- and, in some cases, creating -- affordable housing. Most of the money for the projects is supposed to come from other sources, however.
The 33-member affordable housing advisory committee includes representatives of the real estate industry, social advocacy groups, lenders, local businesses, unions and county boards.
Applications for the money are expected to be completed by July 1.
Committee members include:
* William L. Berry, The Berry Cos.
* Michael Bodaken, National Housing Trust.
* Karen Cleveland, Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia.
* Joshua David, Fairfax Coalition of Police.
* Susan F. Dewey, Virginia Housing Development Authority.
* Carson Lee Fifer Jr., McGuireWoods LLP.
* John K. Freeman, Chesapeake Management Group Inc.
* John E. Gallagher, Virginia Foundation for Housing Preservation.
* William W. Hanks, Fairfax County Federation of Citizens Associations.
* Gerald Hopkins, AHOME.
* Mark S. Ingrao, Apartment and Office Building Association.
* David R. Jeffers, Fannie Mae.
* William H. Lauer, Tetra Partnerships.
* Rodney Lusk, Fairfax County Planning Commission.
* Clark L. Massie, Northern Virginia Building Industry Association and Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce.
* R. Michael Mohler, Fairfax County Professional Fire Fighters and Paramedics IAFF Local 2068.
* Ilryong Moon, Fairfax County School Board.
* Craig Nickerson, Freddie Mac.
* Kenneth Reinshuttle, Fairfax Education Association.
* Mark Silverwood, Silverwood Associates Inc.
* J. Knox Singleton, Inova Health System.
* Patricia Szego, Northern Virginia Association of Realtors.
* Kerrie B. Wilson, Reston Interfaith Inc.
* Scott Sterling, Greater Washington Board of Trade.
The panel will also include representatives from the following organizations who have yet to be named: Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board, Disability Services Board, Alliance for Affordable Housing, Alliance for Human Services, Human Services Council, Social Services Advisory Committee and Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority.