Editor: I lived in Loudoun County, for 16 years. I have a family of 4, with two children and one of them is autistic. Last November, we had to make the difficult decision to move from Leesburg to Winchester due to the cost of housing. It was a very difficult decision to leave the county since my son had excellent teachers. The special education program in the schools was very beneficial in my son’s progress as he had many academic and emotional challenges. As parents, it hurt us a lot to take our son away from all his progress.
My husband works in a restaurant and sadly, it was impossible to buy a house in Leesburg since the rent is so high. We were stuck living in a small apartment, where my children could not play freely. This took away our dream to give our children a better home to live in because of the expensive property costs. For that reason, we had to move to another city in which we had the opportunity to buy our house.
That is why we moved to Winchester, a place with affordable housing prices for our income. Currently, my husband is the only one working and our budget is limited. But even though my children now have space to run and play freely, they have struggled with this transition. We changed their world, their schools, their friends, and for them it has been a great loss. The schools are good, but they will never be like the ones in Loudoun County, where the much-needed support is offered for our autistic child.
Families like mine are Loudoun’s essential workers. The county must do more to invest in housing solutions for working class families. If not, more and more families will be forced to make the same decision we did—to leave Loudoun County in search of housing we can afford according to our incomes.
Yancy Henriquez, Winchester