Fairfax County Moves Forward on Workforce Housing Changes

July 23, 2020

Update: On Feb. 23, 2021, the Board of Supervisors of Fairfax County, Virginia, amended its Workforce Dwelling Unit (WDU) policy to target lower income levels, with a commensurate reduction in the percentage of affordable units required in development projects.


Fairfax County, Virginia, has authorized a review of its Workforce Dwelling Unit (WDU) policy based upon recommendations from a task force appointed by the county’s Board of Supervisors. The proposed policy changes lower the required percentage of affordable units in exchange for targeting lower income ranges. An amendment to the county’s WDU policy is anticipated to be completed by February 2021.

Fairfax County’s WDU policy sets guidelines for development projects to provide affordable housing units targeting individuals making 80 to 120 percent of the area median income (AMI) for the Washington, D.C., region. Within the Tysons area of Fairfax County, those units target individuals making 60 to 120 percent of AMI. The WDU program also includes a maximum density bonus of 20 percent. The current policy requirements include the following:

 

Countywide

Tysons

Current WDU Policy

4% at 80% AMI
4% at 100% AMI
4% at 120% AMI
12% WDU commitment

2% at 60% AMI
3% at 70% AMI
5% at 80% AMI
5% at 100% AMI
5% at 120% AMI
20% WDU commitment


In March 2019, Fairfax County created a Workforce Dwelling Unit Task Force consisting of county staff, private developers, planning commissioners, citizens and affordable housing advocates. On June 30, 2020, the task force presented its recommendations on changes to the county’s WDU policy. Outside of Tysons, the task force put forth two options, a staff proposal and a developer proposal. Those recommendations include the following:

 

Countywide

Tysons

County Staff Proposal

2% at 60% AMI
2% at 70% AMI
4% at 80% AMI
8% WDU commitment

Option 1
3% at 60% AMI
2% at 70% AMI
8% at 80% AMI
13% WDU commitment

Option 2
10% at 60% AMI
10% WDU commitment

The developer will choose one of the two.

Developer Proposal

1% at 60% AMI
1% at 70% AMI
5% at 80% AMI
7% WDU commitment

2% at 60% AMI
3% at 70% AMI
8% at 80% AMI
13% WDU commitment


Under these proposals, the potential density bonuses remain at a maximum of 20 percent. Fairfax County staff is kicking off the WDU policy amendment process in summer 2020, with an expected completion date in February 2021.

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