Memo for fiscal year 2020, updated 2019-03-22

[Archived] Question #15: What would be required to establish a separate fund for preserving affordable housing?


What would be required to establish a separate fund for preserving affordable housing? (Councilman Chapman)


An ordinance would be required to create a new separate fund. This would need to be crafted and introduced. The City currently tracks the purposes for which affordable housing dollars are spent through specific lines of business, meaning we can report out how much is spent on preservation, development, acquisition, etc. The existing Affordable Housing Fund is used for the preservation of existing affordable housing, the construction of new affordable housing, and financial or other assistance for the purchase and/or rental of housing units. Having one Affordable Housing Fund allows the department to be flexible and respond quickly to the current market and opportunities available.

From Housing staff’s perspective, creating a new separate Preservation Fund would add a complication to managing current housing monies and would not add value to the City’s housing preservation effort itself without an infusion of significant new resources to support a more focused initiative but, given the current practice of reviewing all acquisition opportunities (of which Housing is made aware), it does not appear that preservation is resource-inhibited at this time.

For two decades the City has invested Housing Opportunity Funds in preserving existing and/or producing new rental housing as committed affordable units.  The 2013 Housing Master Plan’s target of “new affordability in 2000 units by 2025” specifically tracks units achieved through both approaches.  The Alexandria Housing Affordability Advisory Committee (AHAAC), which monitors implementation of the Housing Master Plan, receives a quarterly update on the City’s progress in meeting this target.

The City is currently working with its nonprofit partners, with the Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA) and with JBG-Smith to develop guidelines to act more nimbly on deals of a certain scale that fall within established parameters as future opportunities arise. However, Housing reviews every acquisition/preservation opportunity, even when the overall requirements for City investment may exceed resources potentially on hand.

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