Your Views: We support the Heritage proposal

Your Views: We support the Heritage proposal
The new Heritage development proposal includes buildings of various heights that will be seven stories at their tallest points. (Rendering/Hord Coplan Macht)

To the editor:

We write in support of approval of The Heritage at Old Town. The lack of affordable housing in Alexandria has been well documented and, during every local election season, is central to most candidates’ messages. The Heritage exemplifies how Alexandria can realize the promises to address the affordable housing crisis.

For decades, gentrification has been closing in on us, changing the very nature of Alexandria and pricing lower income residents out of the city. We need swift action to preserve the unique diversity that makes Alexandria a wonderful place to live.

A 2019 study conducted by Tenants and Workers United showed that of 285 Arlandria households surveyed, 67% earned less than 30% of the area median income. That survey provides a glimpse of a larger problem that won’t be sufficiently addressed by increasing workforce housing. We need projects like The Heritage to expand affordable housing for families at the lowest income levels, an expansion made possible by increased density.

There are complaints from neighbors whose priorities don’t include families in dire need of affordable housing. Fortunately, after a several-month community engagement process, the city adopted residential multifamily zoning in order to preserve the at-risk affordable units.

Redevelopment will maintain 140 units serving extremely low incomes at 30% AMI through a HUD-HAP contract, and add 55 units at 40% AMI. We strongly support this move. To meet the housing needs for lower-income families, we hope to see more affordable housing at and below 40% AMI going forward.

We call on the leaders and residents of Alexandria who care about addressing the affordable housing crisis – and helping families remain in the city they call home – to join us in telling City Council to support The Heritage and other projects that create homes for everyone in our community.

-Tenants and Workers United, Northern Virginia Affordable Housing Alliance, Grassroots Alexandria, Coalition for Smarter Growth, Liveable Alexandria