The first public hearings on Loudoun’s Fiscal Year 2022 budget opened with calls from various sectors to put dedicated funding into tackling the county’s housing cost problem.
Isabel Landaverde, speaking through an interpreter from New Virginia majority, told supervisors Tuesday afternoon about her own struggles moving to Loudoun as a single mother of two.
“I started to work but I always wanted to be around because I didn’t want to leave my kids alone,” Landaverde said. “Because of that, I only got one job, but of course, that wasn’t enough to cover our expenses. After one year we had to look for a room in a house with another family we didn’t know. This lifestyle is complicated, there are a lot of restrictions that come with living in a house that’s not yours, and even more so for the kids.”
Now living with her partner and three kids, she said they still struggle to make ends meet, with a two-bedroom apartment and sharing one car.
“It would be good if we received some type of assistance from the county in the realm of housing, for more affordable housing so that families wouldn’t need to spend so much time apart, working overtime to be able to afford their expenses,” Landaverde said. “I dream to always be able to give my kids what they deserve, and I think quality time is a key part of that.”
She called on supervisors to establish a dedicated revenue stream for the Housing Trust Fund, which the county uses to help finance affordable housing projects.
It was a call echoed moments later by Grafton DeButts, vice president of Membership & Government Affairs at the Loudoun Chamber of Commerce.
“Housing Loudoun’s workforce remains a critical need which continues to receive no dedicated funding in the budget outside of the sale of aging ADUs [Affordable Dwelling Units],” DeButts said.“Significant, sustainable and dedicated funding that is indexed to the growth of the county will be crucial to ensure that Loudoun is able to begin providing a true continuum of housing.”
The Chamber also supported the proposed increase in contributions to human services nonprofits, which are seeing higher-than ever demand amid the pandemic at the same time that fundraising becomes more difficult than ever.
But he also urged against a proposal to allow Loudoun County employees to organize for collective bargaining.
“The cost and distraction of pursuing collective bargaining is clearly not in the taxpayers’ best interests, and we ask that you oppose this expense,” DeButts said.
Another budget public hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. tonight. The board also is scheduled to hear input Saturday, Feb. 27 at 9 a.m.
Supervisors will begin their annual work on the county’s $3.3 billion budget March 1.