New Study Highlights Spotsylvania's Lack of Affordable Housing
In a recent Free Lance-Star article, Adele Uphaus-Conner highlighted a 2018 National Low Income Housing Coalition “Out of Reach” study that documents the gap between renters’ wages and the cost of rental housing.
According to the study, Virginia has the 14th highest housing wage needed to afford fair market rent. The study provides figures for 0-4 bedroom rentals. The study can be found at: http://nlihc.org/oor/virginia
For Virginia, the average income needed for a 2 bedroom rental is $49,276. In Spotsy, it’s estimated to be $71,720. This study seems to default to the widely accepted premise that only 30 percent of income should go toward housing. The study states that 23 percent of Spotsy households are renters, which illustrates the scope of these financial impacts are far reaching. What can we do? This I’m less sure of, but doing nothing has its costs too.
Are the new developments targeting residents from outside Spotsy, leaving locals inside the County to fend for themselves with limited housing options? The Board of Supervisors approves a Comprehensive Plan that lays a general vision of the future. They also approve each rezoning application, so there are levers to work with developers to better ensure a good balance of homes are developed in a way that gives the County a more diverse amount of housing options. Dictating what developers do too much would be misguided; however, allowing developers to pitch projects as affordable -when reality shows they are not is an equally poor option.
The Supervisors were given the authority to approve rezonings and special use permits to help manage growth and development. The concerning point from recent meetings is the Board seems to have accepted that $250-300k is affordable. Affordability is a subjective term based on one’s experience. While Spotsy continues to score well in mean income averages, some studies, such as the recent Rappahannock United Way A.L.I.C.E. study: https://www.rappahannockunitedway.org/alice/, show that maybe that isn’t the best barometer to judge the County. Maybe more people are struggling than we know. There is no quick easy fix but we certainly are not going to make any progress if we are unaware or disinterested to even have the conversation.
Click here to review a recent Free Lance-Star Editorial on Evictions and Affordable Housing in the Fredericksburg Region.