By Justin Oliver, Chair, AHC Board of Directors
The process of developing and preserving affordable housing is increasingly challenging. Here are a couple of ways you can help and stay involved.
First, on a national level, urge Congress to continue to support legislation that encourages affordable housing development. Two critical tools are Low-income Housing Tax Credits and Historic Tax Credits. Both are proven strategies that help bridge the funding gap and make many of our developments possible.
Second, support local initiatives. For instance, two years ago Arlington passed a much-praised Affordable Housing Master Plan. Its goals include 600 new affordable apartments each year. To date, despite the County’s support, our community has only managed to preserve or build about half that number. Working with the County – and you – we hope to develop more strategies to create more affordable homes for our neighbors.
Third, engage your friends, family, and colleagues in conversation about affordable housing and how it benefits the entire community. Like most, I support affordable housing through the lens of philanthropy and volunteerism, but you can also support affordable housing for broader economic reasons.
This is what I think of as the business case for affordable housing. As a business owner, I long ago recognized the need and importance of affordable housing to maintain a diverse and competitive workforce. Affordable housing provides critical entry points (and re-entry points) for new workers, families, retirees, and others to obtain housing in the communities in which they work at various points in their lives.
Companies large and small depend on this workforce to grow and maintain their business. The businesses provide the jobs that fuel the economy and support our schools and other services. In order to retain and attract great companies you need a high quality of life for their workforce. This includes housing affordability, quality of the schools, access to healthcare and public transportation.
Affordable housing is a critical building block not only for the stability and success of the families we serve, but also for the long-term economic health and prosperity of the community in which we live. I hope you will join me me in making the case for affordable housing to our national representatives, local leaders, and friends and neighbors.