An Arlington For Everyone: homelessness up 53% in 3 years FWD

Tom Boland (
Sun, 24 May 1998 20:17:10 -0700 (PDT)
FWD  Washington Post  Thursday, May 21, 1998; Page A26


     By the Reverend Gerry Creedon

Henriette Warfield and Michael D. Lane attempt in "Round 2" to respond to
Ellen Bozman and Mary Rackmales's excellent housing expose "Priced Out of
Arlington" [Close to Home, April 19] by recommending that Arlington become
more middle-class "family-friendly."

But their argument does nothing to dispute the fact that there has been a
53 percent rise in homelessness in the county in the past three years.

In Arlington, of 7,710 apartments lost between 1980 and 1997 to condo and
co-op conversion, demolition and conversion to other use, only 3,013 new
rental apartments were gained -- a net loss of 4,697 units. Arlington has
closed its Section 8 waiting lists for federal rental assistance because
they were four years old.

Yet Ms. Warfield and Mr. Lane support the myth that assisted housing has so
increased that it has given us such evils as "a large, unskilled labor
pool" that places inordinate demands for fire and police services. Perhaps
they are correct in advocating for more affordable home ownership for
families instead of luxury condominiums, but what does this argument have
to do with stemming the erosion of the diminishing stock of affordable

This kind of polarizing mentality destroys the promise of a community where
all income-levels can live together. I join the Arlington Business
Roundtable in its 1990 statement calling for a housing supply for all
income levels and an increase of 520 units annually for low-skilled workers.

As a religious leader in this community, I join in coalition with the
tenants of the 700-plus lower-income units of Arna Valley in seeking
alternatives to the threatened sale and gentrification of their dwellings
in ways that would leave them out in the cold. I refuse to believe that
Arlington has to choose between middle-class families and low-skilled

Ms. Warfield and Mr. Lane offer little to those who would preserve a
diverse community in Arlington.




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