Editor: Unmet housing needs are an urgent matter in Loudoun County that pose challenges to our workforce and continue to deepen racial inequity.
Half of renters in Loudoun County are paying more than they can afford in rent. The less a household earns, the more likely they are to be paying a disproportionate share of their income on housing, rendering them cost burdened. This is why we, a coalition of community organizations across Loudoun, believe a dedicated revenue stream for housing would be a strong first step in investing in housing solutions to begin to tackle this crisis.
Loudoun currently holds a median home price of $541,500 and monthly rent of $1,646 meaning workers in a variety of industries are being entirely priced out of housing that would be affordable within 30% their income level. For example, the average annual wage of a government employee is $54,340, setting an affordable rent at $1,358. Yet, many workers in retail and hospitality earn an average of $35,724 and $22,672 respectively, meaning they could only afford a monthly rent of $893 or $567. Finding rent in that range can be nearly impossible to find, so many families end up spending over 30% of their income on rent. This diminishes their opportunities for collecting savings to put toward home ownership and emergency preparedness for crises like the current pandemic. In Loudoun today, 39% of households in the 30-50% AMI (Area Median Income) range spend over half of their monthly income on rent.
Housing in Loudoun is also a systemic racial justice issue, as illustrated by the rates of non-white families that are cost burdened. According to the 2017 Loudoun County Housing Needs Assessment, over 60% of Hispanic renters are cost burdened, compared to 49% of renters overall. 37% of Black households are cost burdened, compared to 25.9% of white households. Ultimately, current housing costs inhibit entire communities from experiencing economic mobility, securing opportunities for home ownership and having the ability to save for crises.
We acknowledge that Loudoun County commissioned the Unmet Housing Needs Strategic Plan (UHNSP) as a way to address housing in the long term. We eagerly await the findings of the Plan and the proposed policy solutions. Still, no matter the policy solutions, we know that solving Loudoun County’s housing crisis will take time and financial investment, which is why we advocate that the Board stand on the side of workers and racial justice by creating a dedicated revenue stream for housing.
New Virginia Majority
ADAMS Civic Engagement
#BlackWallStreet: Loudoun Think Tank
The Lead America Foundation
North American Somali Women’s Association
Northern Virginia Affordable Housing Alliance
Raj Khalsa Gurdwara
Rev. Daniel Vélez- Rivera, St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church
SEIUVa 512, Loudoun Chapter
Virginia Political Cooperative
Virginia Muslim Political Action Committee