While government, nonprofit and development industry leaders are grappling with how to make homes affordable to people with middle and low incomes, Loudoun County stands to have 109 fewer homes in its Affordable Dwelling Unit program by the end of the year.
A report from Commissioner of the Revenue Robert S. Wertz Jr. totted up the number of price-controlled ADUs in the county, finding 2,097 in total. More than a hundred of those will have aged out of the program by 2019, however, and returned to market values.
The report also broke down ADUs by election district, finding 830 in Dulles, 345 in Broad Run, and 211 in Ashburn—encompassing the fastest growing parts of the county. Another 615 are in Blue Ridge, by far the largest district by land area, but only eight in Sterling, 18 in Catoctin, and 24 in the Leesburg District.
“The places in our county that are fairly built out—Sterling, Leesburg—are the ones that haven’t really had a lot of new construction recently,” said County Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) during Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting. “Catoctin, of course, is a different animal altogether, because it’s western Loudoun County. Those ADU numbers are a problem.”
Affordable Dwelling Units are created in Loudoun through rezoning applications and proffer agreements with developers. But after 15 or 20 years—depending on whether the unit is a rental unit or a for-sale home—they roll out of the program and are assessed at market values. The county government sometimes purchases Affordable Dwelling Units as they near their sunset date to keep them in the program.
New large rezonings and proffers hit a stumbling block in 2016 and 2017 because of state legislation sharply curtailing localities’ ability to negotiate proffers with developers. The county has since put in place a workaround based on exemptions laid out in the proffer law.
“So the only way you would get ADUs in Sterling would be to do some revitalization,” Randall said.
“One of the issues is that average assessed value in those top three districts is also much higher,” said Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles). “So the parcels that are assessed at an ADU level in some of those districts are actually closer to the fair market value in some of the other districts,” he said.
Wertz’s report also found that while the two western election districts—which dwarf the county’s other districts in terms of acreage—contain much of the county’s real estate value, they are closely matched by the much smaller Broad Run, Dulles, and Ashburn districts. Although the Catoctin District is about nine times larger than Broad Run by land area, its real estate valuation is only about two-thirds that of Broad Run. Broad Run has $5.3 billion more in real estate value at about $15 billion, largely attributable to its status of having largest commercial real estate tax base in the county—much of it data centers.
The Dulles District, while only about a fifth the size of Catoctin, also contains about $3.5 billion more in real estate value.
Those high land values also contribute to high housing costs in the county’s developed interior and east.
Also at that meeting, Supervisor Suzanne M. Volpe (R-Algonkian) nominated two familiar faces to the Affordable Dwelling Unit Advisory Board.
Darius Saiedi, an assistant vice president at Bank of Clarke County’s One Loudoun office and president of the Historic Downtown Leesburg Association, will serve as a representative of a lending institution. Bobby Klancher, a Bowman Consulting planner, former staff aide to Supervisor Ron A. Meyer Jr. (R-Broad Run), and son of late Planning Commissioner Bob Klancher, will serve as a program participant.
This article was updated Feb. 9 at 12:48 p.m.