An Interview with Stephen Fuller, Director, Center for Regional Analysis, George Mason University
“Affordable housing is no longer just a social issue; It has become an economic development issue,” reports Stephen Fuller, Director, Center for Regional Analysis, George Mason University.
Fuller, one of the authors of “Housing the Region’s Future Workforce: Policy Challenges for Local Jurisdictions”, believes providing a range of housing is critical to the future viability of the DC Metro area. “If local jurisdictions don’t have the housing the future workforce can afford, they won’t get the workers. If you don’t get the workers, you won’t get the employers.”
The growth is coming. Between 2010 and 2030, Northern Virginia will gain more than 578,000 jobs -- a 55% jump. Arlington will add nearly 47,000 jobs -- a 26% increase. If these employees can’t live near where they work, their cars will flood our roads and their tax dollars will go elsewhere.
Fuller predicts that by 2030, if our commuter patterns continue, the economic loss to the DC Metro area will be “the equivalent of all the economic activity of Fairfax County leaving the region every day.”
Housing mix is changing
Over the next two decades the rental/ownership mix will also change. Fuller projects as much as 60% of the new housing units needed will be multi-family apartment buildings thanks to demographic changes in the job market, including single professionals who will be happy to rent instead of buy and baby boomers who will downsize as they leave the workplace.
In Arlington, for instance, nearly 18,800 multifamily units will be needed by 2030 -- more than half the total 34,300 total homes needed to accomodate the growing workforce. In contrast, the demand for owning single-family homes in Arlington is projected to be much smaller -- about 3,000 homes between 2010 and 2030.
“Affordable housing is not just for moderate-income people,” says Fuller. “The region won’t survive unless it has the right housing mix.”
AHC Inc. is a private, nonprofit developer of low- and moderate-income housing in the mid-Atlantic region. Founded in 1975 in Arlington, VA, AHC produces and preserves affordable rental housing, provides homeownership services, and offers onsite educational services to improve the quality of residents' lives. AHC's portfolio includes 38 properties providing quality affordable housing for more than 4,500 households.