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ArlingtonNewsHabitat for Humanity backs Missing Middle proposal

Habitat for Humanity backs Missing Middle proposal

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Count Habitat for Humanity on board with the Arlington government’s Missing Middle housing proposal.

The proposed zoning change “is not the answer to the affordability crisis, but it is one answer, that the county [government] could and should implement,” John Smoot, co-president and CEO of the organization’s D.C./Northern Virginia chapter, said in a recent letter to County Board members.

The Missing Middle proposal calls for effectively eliminating single-family zoning in most residential areas of the county. Supporters say it will provide a wider array of home choices and lower costs; opponents say it’s a giveaway to developers, will overwhelm the county’s infrastructure and is unlikely to do much to address housing costs.

Smoot’s letter largely brushes past concerns of single-family homeowners, saying that with more zoning options in those areas of the county, “the neighborhood character will be deeper, richer, more inclusive and actually more interesting.”

Portions of Habitat for Humanity’s letter, however, are likely to enrage those who already are opposed to the change, as it calls for even greater height (described as “a modest increase” of 5 to 10 feet) for multi-unit construction on such lots, and supports proposals to slash the amount of on-site parking required for those in residential units.

“Cars don’t need homes. People do,” the organization said.

The letter encourages Arlington leaders to find ways to make sure that “a large portion” of the increasing housing that would be shoehorned into single-family lots is directed at moderate-income buyers, although what powers the county government would have to incentivize that, after making free-range zoning the right of property owners and developers, remains an open question.

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