Editor: I have been a parent liaison at Potomac Falls High School in Loudoun County for the past seven years. Previously, I was the parent liaison at Potowmack Elementary for over 13 years. During these years, I worked closely with socioeconomic at-risk families with children in our school system. I helped them find food, clothing, medical and dental resources, and housing.
Of all the resources we have in Loudoun, and there are many, affordable housing in the richest county in the U.S. is the hardest to find. Most of the families I work with are in “double-up” living situations where two or more families share one housing unit/apartment. Or they live in basement “apartments” in other people’s homes with no access to a kitchen. We often see a whole family of 4-6 sleeping in one bedroom, sharing a bathroom with another family, and students with barely enough space to do their homework. I want to make sure you understand that these are families of all ethnicities.
There are low-income rentals available but those are few and rarely become available. Our county keeps growing which is great as a whole as more money is brought into the county. However, with the added economy is the need for workers, many of whom do not make enough to support themselves and their families with our current housing availability. We can’t keep building our economy without providing the infrastructure to support it. Part of that infrastructure must be more affordable housing for the working-class families who will stay here and make Loudoun their home.
A half penny from our tax dollars towards affordable housing will go a long way, but we also need to ensure that a majority of those funds go to support those earning less than 40% of the area median income. As a tax paying resident of Loudoun, I would rather see affordable housing be made available to these families than homeless shelters. I would rather see the children of these families have a place to do their homework so they succeed in school and are able to become contributing members of our county, instead of potentially drop-outs who put more strain on our county resources.
Please consider more affordable housing for the hard-working families who keep our county’s infrastructure intact.
Helen Chang, Potomac Falls