Leesburg Council Hears Pitch for Affordable Housing Proposal

The Leesburg Town Council on Tuesday heard a presentation from Loudoun County government staff members about plans to help attract more financing for affordable housing to the Joint Land Management Area just outside town limits.

County staff members told the council that designating the area a “revitalization area” with the Virginia Housing Development Authority could give rental housing developers a better chance at winning state tax credits for maintaining below-market rents. Low Income Housing Tax Credits are administered by the state and handed out through a competitive process—and applications from designated revitalization areas are given a leg up in the competition.

Much of eastern Loudoun is already designated as a revitalization zone, under the same justification proposed for the land around Leesburg: that the area’s economy would benefit from more affordable housing, but the private sector will not produce that housing unaided.Supervisors took that vote in December 2017. Developers have also already benefitted from the tax credits that that designation may have helped them win.

County staff members were there, in part, to gather feedback from the council to take back to supervisors.

The designation does not directly affect local zoning, and any proposal to develop more houses in the area would have to go through normal channels. But Mayor Kelly Burk expressed concern nonetheless.

“Those areas are already developed, though—they’re single-family homes or duplexes and businesses,” Burk said. “So, I’m concerned that we’re going to get feedback from the people that live in those areas saying, ‘what are you doing, this is what we are right now, this is what we’re going to stay.’” She also expressed concern about possibly allowing new homes near Leesburg Executive Airport, which is discouraged both by the Town Council and a county zoning designation around airport noise.

County staff members assured Burk the VHDA designation does not impact local zoning.

The designation could benefit one development in particular—Tuscarora Crossing, where in September 2019 county supervisors approved a rezoning to bring 234 more homes into the county’s Affordable Dwelling Unit program. The VHDA designation is separate from the county-run Affordable Dwelling Unit program, but can be used to help finance those units.

Supervisors are scheduled to hear about and possibly vote on the proposal Jan. 21.

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