"Promoting housing affordability by combating exclusionary housing policies"

 

CFC # 41863 (Combined Federal Campaign) 

One affordable housing unit per day is added to plans in EHI’s home county, following EHI’s advocacy, during its first five years

 

EHI turned five years old on September 19, 2013. It has made significant progress locally, nationally, and even internationally, despite being a very small nonprofit without major funding.

Local projects

Locally, EHI’s chief focus has been on its home area, the Washington, DC region—a fairly typical major metropolitan area regarding housing availability and affordability. In early 2011, EHI began advocating for more housing in the plans for key growth areas of the region—future transit station areas (TSAs) along the new Metrorail Silver Line (commuter rail), which will connect Metrorail to Dulles International Airport and beyond, in Northern Virginia.

EHI has concentrated on TSAs in western Fairfax County, including the three in Reston and the Route 28-South TSA, where planning for massive redevelopment was begun several years ago. Since EHI first got involved, a year or more into the planning process—and due in no small measure to EHI’s advocacy—at least 15,840 additional housing units have been put into the planning stage in those TSAs. That is more than half the total number of new, planned housing units there.

Furthermore, at least 1,900 of those units—and perhaps upwards of 2,775 units—will be required to be affordable to low- and moderate-income people, consistent with Fairfax County’s Workforce Housing Policy. And Reston’s plan calls for enough housing units in its Metrorail station areas to offset completely the number of new, future workers in the massive office buildings and other commercial developments that are envisioned there.

By contrast, when EHI first got involved, the “flexible framework” suggested by the County included almost four new jobs for each new housing unit. However, the “recommended target standard” for jobs-housing balance in a community generally consists of one suitable housing unit for every 1.5 jobs in the community—a jobs-housing ratio of 1.5 to 1. See generally, e.g., Jerry Weitz, Jobs-Housing Balance, p. 4 (American Planning Association PAS Report No. 516, 2003). (Before the recent recession, the overall jobs-housing ratio in the Washington, DC, region was about 1.6 to 1—doubtless due in part to the need for many households to have multiple incomes to afford the high cost of housing.)

The additional housing in Reston and the Route 28-south TSAs amounts to:

  • more than one additional affordable unit per day during EHI’s first five years;
  • more than eight additional housing units overall, per day during EHI’s first five years; and
  • more than one additional affordable unit for every $6-8 donated to EHI during that time; and
  • more than one additional housing unit overall, for every dollar donated to EHI.

For more information on those planned increases, click here: HOUSING PROGRESS ALONG DULLES RAIL CORRIDOR.

Nationwide projects

 Nationally, EHI’s focus has been on legislation—which it sees as the best way to remove regulatory barriers to housing affordability in the reasonably near future. EHI law clerks have prepared extensive memoranda analyzing existing legislation in numerous jurisdictions that have attempted to control those barriers. Based on those memoranda, EHI now is preparing a comprehensive report on best practices and next steps in improving legislative protection of housing opportunities for low- and moderate-income people. For further information on that project, click here: REGULATORY BARRIERS REPORT.

International projects

 Internationally, EHI has begun exploring housing problems of urbanized, low-income people in developing countries, and laws and government policies that have contributed significantly to those problems. Extensive materials have been collected by EHI law clerks, documenting housing deficiencies and contributing regulatory problems in India and Latin America. Among the major regulatory problems are lack of legal rights of a high percentage of urban workers to rent or own the housing they occupy; difficulty in obtaining permits for infrastructure and other improvements; and official corruption.