Half a world away

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Half a world away
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To the editor: 

I always planned on living in Alexandria after school. I wanted to stay close to family and friends, allow my dog to see her sister and walk around Old Town on summer nights. But the DMV doesn’t have many neighborhoods like Old Town because we make them illegal and instead, mandate single-family only zones and excessive parking lots. 

Not only does this make living in a low-carbon life in a walkable neighborhood nearly impossible, but it makes all housing in the DMV more expensive for young people trying to start their careers. Instead, I moved into a duplex in Chicago. 

Census data shows I’m not alone – Alexandria is losing young people like me. 

My duplex has a single-family house on one side and a three-flat on the other. The street has a mid-size apartment building, row houses, backyards, affordable units, families, retirees and recent graduates. 

I’m walking distance from groceries, restaurants and the train, all for significantly less than it would have cost to stay home thanks to these abundant and diverse housing options. If Alexandria had been zoned for housing years ago, maybe I could have stayed and gone to Caps games, Sunday dinners with my parents and happy hours at Lost Dog. Instead, I’m half a world away. 

-Ben Wolfenstein, formerly of Alexandria 

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