Fairfax County, Virginia, to Consider Adopting Affordable Housing Preservation Guidelines

September 11, 2023

The Board of Supervisors of Fairfax County, Virginia, will hold a public hearing at its Sept. 26, 2023, meeting to consider the adoption of Affordable Housing Preservation Administrative Guidelines. Consistent with previously adopted preservation policy guidance, the guidelines aim to mitigate the loss of existing affordable units in residential redevelopment projects.

If adopted, the guidelines would apply to Comprehensive Plan amendments and rezoning applications that propose to eliminate four or more existing multifamily units deemed “affordable.” If the guidelines apply, the rezoning or Comprehensive Plan amendment must be accompanied by a preservation proposal to be reviewed by Fairfax County’s Department of Housing and Community Development.

The goal is for preservation proposals to offer one-for-one replacement for units that will be lost in the proposed redevelopment. The guidelines also allow for case-by-case considerations, with some flexibility on strategies and outcomes. This includes consideration of additional density to accommodate these policy objectives. The guidelines further provide for consideration of a reduced number of replacement units if justified by project-specific financial or site development challenges. Off-site solutions are also available, with a preference for off-site units being within one mile of the subject site. Affordable dwelling units and workforce dwelling units that are otherwise required may be used to fulfill the policy requirements.

If these guidelines are adopted, any redevelopment of existing housing units will need to be prospectively evaluated against these guidelines. The guidelines will inform economic and strategy considerations for the redevelopment of sites developed with existing multifamily units. The case-by-case approach also creates opportunities for creative solutions.