Residents affected by the high cost of living in Loudoun raised their voices this weekend and asked state senator and gubernatorial candidate Jennifer McClellan about the housing crisis.
About 30 New Virginia Majority supporters on Saturday—International Workers’ Day—marched from Sterling Plaza to a field behind Sterling Elementary School to demand county officials invest in affordable housing and rent relief programs. According to a statement from the group, 39% of Loudoun households making 30-50% of the area median income spend more than half of their monthly income on rent.
Once at the field, the marchers were joined by more supporters, continued their chants, sang a song, heard from individuals affected by the high cost of housing and asked McClellan about the housing crisis.
McClellan pointed out that the march was taking place on May 1, the day the first of three incremental minimum wage hikes in Virginia took effect. Now, Virginians earning minimum wage will make $9.50 an hour, rising to a total of $12 per hour in 2023. But, McClellan said, state leaders still need to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour, invest in affordable housing through the Housing Trust Fund and ensure local governments don’t discriminate against those affected by the affordable housing crisis.
“That’s a lot of work but we can do it,” she said.
McClellan told the marchers that government is at its best when it works to solve problems, meet crises, improve lives and invest in communities. At its worst, she said, government oppresses some people for the benefit of others.
“It’s time for a governor that brings a new perspective who doesn’t just give you a seat at the table but takes the table out to you who will center your story and your needs and build a Virginia that is stronger and more united and leaves no Virginian and no community behind,” she said. “That’s why I’m running for governor.”
Loudoun NAACP First Vice President Ron Campbell told the marchers that “housing is a human right.”
“We are not standing alongside of you, we are you,” he said. “It’s not affordable if it’s not attainable.”