Brighter Days and Greater Opportunities for Annandale

By:  Scott Pearson, Pearson Realty
January 2020, ENDEAVOR  News Magazine

Affordable Housing

Although I normally write about either commercial or residential real estate with an eye toward maximizing owners’ investments, I believe it is also important to keep an eye on the issue of affordable housing in the Annandale area.  The issue of affordable housing has been on the front page of nearly every newspaper in America and on the lips of many politicians, but how many people actually understand the economic impact of the affordable housing shortage?

Amazon is contributing $20 million to Arlington County’s affordable housing fund because it understands the effect that HQ2 will have on the local housing market.  Fairfax County, and in particular the Annandale area due to its proximity, will also be affected by Amazon’s effect on the housing market.  It will  likely cause housing prices to spike, thereby exacerbating the affordable housing shortage.

What this does is delay market entrance by young buyers seeking their first home.  It pushes rents up to a point that many families simply cannot reasonably afford to occupy apartments in our area.  Consider that the rent for a one-bedroom apartment is often more than many people’s mortgage payment and may represent over 50% of a couples disposable income.  And there are many seniors who are making the decision between paying the rent and obtaining prescription drugs.

The accompanying effect is that those families who are rent strapped have less buying power for other goods and services. Therefore, the shortage of affordable housing further adversely affects the economic well being of our area.  It is axiomatic that a healthy, local economy is dependent upon the entire spectrum of wage earners being able to live in a safe, affordable residence.

My business associate, Robert Schwaninger, is Chairman of the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority (FCRHA).  He has schooled me on the benefits of available, affordable housing in Annandale and is proud that Annandale provides many such units, but worries that it still isn’t enough.  Providing additional housing stock gets more difficult every year as prices rise and property taxes rise.

A portion of the subsidized housing is occupied by first responders, government workers and nurses that otherwise would not live in Fairfax County.  By providing housing opportunities to rookie cops and nurses, those persons upon whom we depend for public safety, remain a vital resource in maintaining our shared quality of life.

Schwaninger also likes to say, “This is Fairfax County.  We don’t run slums.”  And he’s right.  Take a ride with him sometime and he will show you that housing provided by the FCRHA is well maintained, clean and free of shady characters.  Rather, you can tell that the residents feel “at home” and welcome members of our local community.

I would be remiss if I didn’t also point out that affordable housing is of paramount importance to senior citizens with limited incomes, often only social security.  Places like Lincolnia Senior Center provide a place where people can congregate and enjoy the company of other seniors while engaging in myriad activities.  Once again, the safety and care of our most vulnerable residents is met by these facilities.

Therefore, it is important for sympathetic reasons to provide housing for the disabled and elderly.  But it is also important for practical, economic reasons to make investments to maintain and further create affordable housing opportunities in Annandale and throughout the County.  

Median Sales Price of Annandale Homes
2010     $507,800
2015     $539,900
2019     $615,533

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