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Welfare For The Not-So-Poor In Fairfax County

by @ 4:50 pm on September 30, 2007. Filed under Virginia, Virginia Politics

Apparently, the definition of poor is getting pretty flexible over in Fairfax:

Hundreds of families living in housing subsidized by Fairfax County taxpayers exceed income caps designed to ensure that only the neediest receive assistance, a review of county records shows.

In the most extreme cases, Fairfax is underwriting rents for families making well into six figures: One household getting help makes more than $216,000 a year; another, $184,000. Dozens of others — making $60,000, $70,000, $90,000 — exceed eligibility caps. And they do so with the tacit approval of county housing administrators, who do little to encourage occupants to move on when their fortunes improve.

These tenants live in housing intended for families at the bottom of the county’s economic spectrum. They are in the federally subsidized public housing program, the Fairfax rental program and the county’s senior housing program. The county’s Department of Housing and Community Development will spend about $4.5 million this year running these programs.

The fact that higher-income families choose to remain in subsidized housing illustrates the critical lack of affordable housing in Fairfax, named the nation’s most affluent county last month by the Census Bureau. The median new-home price in the region’s largest jurisdiction is $960,000, and the average monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,306, according to county data.

The incomes also reflect, critics say, a disconnect between county practices and its housing policies, which aim in most cases to help families making less than half of Fairfax’s median annual household income of $94,500 for a family of four. Fairfax leaders have long put affordable housing at the tops of their priority lists: Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerald E. Connolly (D) helped establish an initiative in 2005 to funnel more than $20 million a year toward the preservation of lower-cost housing.

But that mission should not include subsidizing the rents of families making more than $100,000 a year, Connolly said.

“Clearly this housing was not designed for that,” he said. “It’s good that these folks have reached a point where they are now successful in their income level. But they need to move into market-rate housing and allow these units to be used for the people they are intended to benefit.”

As long as the county continues to subsidize their rent, why should they ?

2 Responses to “Welfare For The Not-So-Poor In Fairfax County”

  1. Conservative Alternative says:


    County allows families earning $216,000 to live in taxpayer-subsidized housing: “I was among the needy, and this type of abuse is disgraceful”

    ANNANDALE, VA (September 30) –Mason District Republican nominee Vellie Dietrich-Hall today expressed “outrage” that Fairfax County bureaucrats have allowed families making as much as $216,000 a year to live in taxpayer-subsidized housing, with 1 in 10 residents of low-income housing earning more than the Fairfax County median income of $94,500.

    A Washington Post article this morning by journalist Amy Gardner revealed that hundreds of residents of public housing in Fairfax County make too much to be eligible, with some households earning as much as $216,000 a year. According to the Post, 25 residents of taxpayer-funded public housing earn more than $75,600 a year, and 11 households make more than $94,500.

    Asked about her department’s decision to continue underwriting the rent of a woman and her two sons, both college graduates with full-time jobs, who earn a combined $216,000, the director of the county’s Department of Housing and Community Development, Paula C. Sampson, speculated that “maybe it’s time for the boys to leave the nest and go off on their own.”

    The Post also found that more than a third of the households in the Fairfax rental program make more than half the median income, and more than 10 percent earn more than $75,600 a year. County records uncovered by the Post found that 28 households in the program make more than $94,500, with one family making $184,376 a year, another
    $145,349 and a third $140,962. The rental program makes apartments and townhouses available at below-market rates to 1,190 households, according to the Post.
    What the Post doesn’t talk about is the truly needy people who are turned away from public housing because Fairfax County bureaucrats choose to subsidize the rents of those whose biggest problem is how much to sock away a 401(k). When I came to this
    country, I was among those needy persons, and to me, this kind of abuse is especially disgraceful. While the bureaucrats underwrite the top 5 percent of wage-earners, Fairfax County police officers, firemen and teachers can’t afford to live in the communities they work. That’s not what taxpayers signed up for when they were asked by the Board of Supervisors to support affordable housing to the tune of $20 million a year.

    Vellie noted that Fairfax County’s Board of Supervisors “dragged their feet for years” before imposing any income threshold for public housing, despite being permitted to do so by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

    “When the Board finally imposed an income ceiling on public housing last year, it set the threshold at a whopping $94,500“ hardly what anybody would consider “low income,” Vellie noted.
    The County’s housing bureaucrats seem to have chosen to turn their backs on massive abuses of the housing program, and taxpayers deserve to know if they had the support of the Board of Supervisors in doing so. There must be accountability for bureaucratic failures and neglect of taxpayer dollars, and the County Board of Supervisors and the bureaucrats at the Department of Housing and Community
    Development ought to be called to task for this.

    Vellie pledged that if she is elected Mason District Supervisor, she will introduce legislation to require participants to notify county officials when their incomes exceed the income ceiling, and to seek other housing arrangements when that happens. If they failed to do so, they should be required to repay the county for the amount of their subsidy and face possible criminal prosecution for fraud, she said.

  2. Ron says:

    I make less that $184,000 and have a wife and two kids to support. How can I get some housing assistance? ;)

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