Loudoun to Open Door to Affordable Housing Grants

For years, Loudoun County has shut its own Affordable Dwelling Unit program out from the state and federal grants that most localities use to extend their workforce housing programs.

The Board of Supervisors is beginning the process of opening the door to those grants.

The problem lay in the regulations of the county ADU program. Developers who rezone land for large subdivisions (more than 50 units) are required by county zoning rules to contribute a certain number of units, distributed throughout the development, to the county ADU program to be rented or sold below market value.

The requirements on those units—especially relating to how long they stay in the ADU system before returning to market value, income requirements, and requirements to notify the county in the case of mortgage delinquency or default or foreclosure—conflict with standards set by the Virginia Housing Development Authority and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

That means that, although developers may be required to build ADUs, those same rules prevent them from qualifying for VHDA and HUD grant funding.

Numbers compiled by the Windy Hill Foundation, which recently secured funding to build Heronview Apartments, 96 affordable units at Kincora, show Loudoun misses out on a lot of money with these rules.

According to Windy Hill, since 2006 the Virginia, DC, suburbs have received $358.32 million in housing grants. Only $17.62 million of that came to Loudoun—all for Windy Hill projects, and none under the county’s ADU program.

Windy Hill Foundation Executive Director Kim Hart attended the Board of Supervisors’ June 23 meeting when it unanimously adopted a Resolution of Intent to Amend the relevant county codes. He also reminded the board that time is a concern—if the county doesn’t finish its revisions by the new year, the county will miss out on another year of funding. That includes what is expected to be more than $15 million in tax credits for Heronview Apartments.

“It has to get done before we have to sign our contract with VHDA at the end of the year, because if that’s not fixed, I can’t sign that contract,” Hart said. “And I really don’t want to send back the $15 million.”

Supervisor Suzanne M. Volpe (R-Algonkian), who is credited with leading the reform of Loudoun’s ADU laws on the board, said she expects supervisors will take action in November.

“I always say, in Loudoun, workforce housing, we’re talking about someplace for our teachers to live, our firefighters, our nurses,” said Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large).


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