To the editor:
On Monday, city council took a bold step in addressing our housing needs here in Alexandria. A 1 percent increase in the meals tax is estimated to generate nearly $4.75 million each year. This promises to make a significant difference in our city, which has lost more than 90 percent of our affordable housing units since the year 2000. These funds will create much-needed housing opportunities for our first responders, our teachers, our working families and our seniors aging in place.
Many restaurant owners in the city are concerned about the impact of the 1 percent increase in the meals tax. On a breakfast of $7 there will be an additional seven-cent charge. On a lunch of $20 there will be an additional twenty-cent charge. On a dinner of $80 there will be an additional eighty-cent charge. I, for one, am willing to pay this increase and will continue to dine locally. I encourage all Alexandrians to do the same. This is not a one or the other scenario. We are a community that can support both local business and housing opportunities.
I know first-hand how the lack of affordable housing has pushed families out of the city. Families I have worked with, friends I spent time with, many are gone. All are victims of the housing crisis we face. For those families struggling to remain in their homes here in Alexandria, the escalating cost of housing has impacted their ability to afford other basic needs like food and health care.
This new, dedicated stream of revenue for affordable housing will help ensure Alexandria is a city where all can thrive. We can and we will be able to achieve this goal by working together as a community.
-Canek Aguirre, candidate for Alexandria City Council