Loudoun Board Leaders Talk Affordable Housing, Schools at Chamber Forum

County Chair Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) and the leaders of the board’s standing committees talked housing, a school system under assault, and the county’s near future during the Loudoun Chamber of Commerce’s PolicyMaker Series breakfast Wednesday.

Randall pointed to a range of housing needs—from low-income families; to veterans, seniors, and people with disabilities; to families that make the area median income but still can’t afford a place to live.

“We’ve been in Loudoun County for a long time about how to meet the unmet housing, but we had done anything about putting any skin in the game,” Randall said.

Speaking hours before County Administrator Tim Hemstreet was scheduled to present his annual county budget proposal, Randall pointed to the board’s plans to dedicate the revenue generated by a half-cent of the county’s real estate tax rate to its Housing Trust Fund. She said that would amount to about $6 million a year going into the fund—a new strategy for building up that funding.

“We’ve amassed about $20 million in 20 years in the Housing Trust Fund by selling affordable houses on the market. You don’t want to build your Housing Trust Fund by selling your affordable houses, that doesn’t make sense,” Randall said.

Randall was joined by Transportation and Land Use Committee Chairman Michael R. Turner (D-Ashburn), finance committee Chairwoman Kristen C. Umstattd (D-Leesburg), and Joint Board of Supervisors and School Board Committee Co-chairwoman Sylvia R. Glass (D-Broad Run) in a series of brief speeches and a question-and-answer session at the National Conference Center.

And with the COVID-19 pandemic showing signs of waning, Metrorail service finally on the horizon in the second quarter of this year, and other developments on the way like the Children’s Science Center, supervisors looked ahead to the county’s near future.

“There are a lot of things that we’re creating in Loudoun County as a destination which will serve to boost whatever the new normal is, and really begin to attract a whole new market,” Turner said.

Supervisors also acknowledged the ongoing attacks on the county School Board.

“It’s been a difficult time, with extra attention on both the School Board and the Board of Supervisors,” Glass said. “… One of the big undertakings I hope to accomplish as co-chair is fostering a continued positive working relationship between our boards. Although we are two independently elected bodies, it is beneficial for us to know each other’s goals and collaborate on initiatives that overlap. Communication and priority sharing will only work to improve the educational opportunities for our students, our families and our school staff.”

“The school system and some of our departments have made some pretty significant mistakes, and we shouldn’t ignore that, and we shouldn’t look away from that, and we shouldn’t deny that. But just like a person is not the sum total of their worst decisions, a county is not the sum total of their worst decisions either,” Randall said.

The school system still faces scrutiny and unanswered questions around its handling of a sexual assault in a high school by a student, who was then transferred to a different high school where he assaulted a second girl. The school system subsequently commissioned a third-party investigation of its handling of that case, which school leaders have said they will not release to the public. It has since become a regular target for of conservative campaigns and candidates.

But Randall also pointed to the accomplishments of the school district, one of the highest-performing districts in the state in student achievement.

“I, for one, am damn tired of our county being used for a political football, and we are getting off the mat right damn now,” Randall said.

10 thoughts on “Loudoun Board Leaders Talk Affordable Housing, Schools at Chamber Forum

  • 2022-02-09 at 4:05 pm

    “I, for one, am damn tired of our county being used for a political football, and we are getting off the mat right damn now,” Randall said.”

    It’s obvious that all the area county officials attended some breakout session at some jurisdictional meeting where they were instructed to use the word ‘damn’ to show how tough they are about all of the anti-science mandates and silly restrictions. They’ve all used the word in some public pronouncement or another. You’re better than that Phyllis.

    If she was truly concerned about how Loudoun has become a ‘football’ she would take herself over to Ed Ct. and use her influence to curb some of the more insane and incompetent policy decisions being concocted there.

  • 2022-02-09 at 4:18 pm

    Democrats lie again. The only real way the BoS has to make housing more affordable is to LOWER PROPERTY TAXES. Lower taxes mean that everyone’s monthly escrow payment is reduced which means everyone’s monthly mortgage payment decreases.

  • 2022-02-09 at 4:26 pm

    I’m glad Chair Randall has supportive words for LCPS. No one is saying the division is perfect. But it’s too simplistic to demonize LCPS leaders. They’re doing their best under difficult circumstances. The mask mandate is a case in point. I long for masks to be phased out. But what about students with disabilities who could suffer a catastrophe if infected? LCPS has to consider ALL children under its care. Happy Valentine’s Day Loudoun!

    • 2022-02-09 at 5:25 pm

      Perhaps you should follow the science. First, the fatality rate among children under 17 is less that .001%. Second, masking is actually dangerous for children with Asthma. Third, masking hinders the educational development of the very young in terms of speech and language skills, fourth the LCPS Board does not follow the science and instead is blatantly political. LCPS has been an excellent school system but it has strayed from the fundamentals to social engineering and political indoctrination with Ziegler and his predecessor. This falls on the shoulders of our school board and the Administration under the current and previous superintendent. As to your point about the very few students who have exceptional medical conditions these same students are at risk during influenza outbreaks. I sympathize but perhaps distance learning would be appropriate for those few.

  • 2022-02-09 at 6:19 pm

    The BOS is not doing their best, if they were they would compromise and allow all sides to win. Remove themasj mandate and allow parents make the choice. This way those who want to wear a mask can and those who don’t are not require to. Compromise is the most effective tool and allows everyone to be happy. Wow, that wasn’t very hard was it.

  • 2022-02-09 at 6:23 pm

    No one is being simplistic there is systematic hate from the school board, and they have been outed. Running for cover like roaches with Randall leading the way. Systematic hate kills ideas, hope, faith, goodness, free speech, freedom, enterprise, life, peace, civilization, law and order. Systematic hate brings war, unrest, evil, grief, silence, anarchy death.

  • 2022-02-09 at 7:47 pm

    Several points.
    1. Randall mentions affordable housing but put forth no solution. Is it with subsidies similar to Section 8, is it mandates on developers, what’s the plan?

    2. She noted the School Board has made mistakes. Thanks for recognizing that, now will she make efforts to address the budget negatively due to those mistakes or does she just move on.

    3. She uses a football reference and then referenced a mat. What does the may have to do with her reference. Perhaps it may seem like nitpicking but it was a calculated statement and completely wrong.

  • 2022-02-10 at 12:19 pm

    “It is beneficial to know each other’s goals”??? Why don’t you already know how the BOS is supposed to shepherd property tax funds and state statutes REQUIRING LCPS to operate with utmost efficiency? Why don’t you seem to know that affordable housing does NOT mean approving high density, tax inefficient, student producing housing even if that is what the Real Estate benefactors say they want as they pass the campaign checks over? When was the last studio or one bedroom apartment house project approved? Does the business development department actively pursue age restricted community developers? Does the BOS realize that prior BOS had established agreements with local non-profit charities like Good Shepherd Alliance that a percentage of any approved development had to be rented to low income families having GSA manage that relationship? The BOS and School Board are expected to already understand community needs PRIOR to running much less say they are learning on the job in my opinion.

  • 2022-02-19 at 7:13 pm

    A lot of garden apartments could be developed for 6M a year.

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