Loudoun Could See Fewer Affordable Units Next Year

Loudoun Could See Fewer Affordable Units Next Year

As Loudoun County officials try to boost the affordable housing stock, a report indicates that those units could decline by more than 100 by next year.

There are now 2,097 affordable dwelling units [ADUs] in the county, according to a report by the Office of the Commissioner of the Revenue.

ADUs are units which would normally sell for much higher market prices but forced to sell at far below market for qualified lower-income applicants.  After 15 years of ownership, those units move out of the program and are usually assessed at the standard higher fair-market values unless the county steps in and purchases them.

First-time home buyers who meet income guidelines can purchase a home at prices that generally range from $120,000 to $180,000, under the program. Their income has to be less than 70 percent of the area median income — about $62,000 for a family of four — but more than 30 percent of the median, or about $26,000.

There is also a rental program where those who meet income guidelines can rent units for typically between $630 and $1,300 a month, depending on the apartment size. Potential tenants contact apartment complexes directly to inquire about availability once they qualify.

Some 109 units — more than half of those in the Dulles and Ashburn election districts — are set to be assessed at standard market values next January, said James White, deputy commissioner for residential real estate. Thus if no other units come on board to offset those coming out of the ADU program, the total number would fall.

“That is a problem,” Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Phyllis Randall (D-At Large) said at a recent meeting.

Sterling and Leesburg only have eight and 24 total ADUs, respectively. There are the most in the Dulles district with 830, followed by Blue Ridge [615], Broad Run [345] and Ashburn [211].

Areas such as Sterling and Leesburg have so few ADUs because there has not been new residential construction there in recent years that would have to abide by zoning requirements to contain affordable housing, officials said. The ADU properties are generally set aside as required by developers of new or rezoned subdivisions and complexes.

Last fall, the county organized a first-time housing summit in which numerous public and private leaders called the lack of enough affordable units in the county a “crisis.” Some called for new incentives such as tax credits for developers who provide more affordable units.