Why wealthy Loudoun County wants more affordable housing

WASHINGTON — Loudoun County, which often tops lists of the nation’s richest counties, is loaning $2.6 million to developers to help build almost 100 affordable apartments in Ashburn, Virginia.

“Loudoun’s not the richest county in the country, we’re the county with the highest median income,” said Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Phyllis Randall.

“Wealth is what you have — incomes comes in and goes out, and comes in and goes out.”

The cost of living in Loudoun County is high. According to Zillow, the median home value is $478,100.

The board voted unanimously Wednesday to approve the loan.

“In Loudoun County and Northern Virginia, affordable housing is teachers, firefighters, police officers and sheriffs. It’s nurses, and wait staff,” said Randall.

“Only 29-percent of our career firefighters live in Loudoun County — the rest do not, because they can’t afford it.”

The 96 apartments are scheduled to be built near Virginia Route 7 and Claiborne Parkway.

While the term “affordable housing” is often used as a catchall, Randall said the proposed apartments will include workforce housing, disability housing and low-income housing. Each of the classifications has different income requirements, based on area media incomes or AMI.

The loan will come from the county’s housing trust fund.

While some equate affordable housing with a lower standard of living, Randall said that is not the case.

“We haven’t had any of the ‘not in my backyard,'” said Randall. “In fact, we’ve had the opposite. It’s ‘Let’s open the door for you, and welcome you in.”

Randall said the affordable units will be built near Belmont Country Club.

“I’m so proud to say that Belmont Country Club’s Home Owners Association wrote a letter supporting this,” said Randall. “People in Loudoun County are very generous, and what they know is a diverse housing stock in really important for everyone.”

In addition to promoting acceptance in a community, Randall said having affordable housing is good for business.

“Loudoun and Fairfax are in the running for Amazon, and a diverse housing stock is one of the things Amazon asked for,” said Randall. “So, not only is it important for individuals, it’s important to keep our economy buzzing along.”

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