Editor: The Arlington County government is moving ahead with its plan to increase the number of “missing middle” housing units in Arlington, even if that means greatly increasing the population burden on our already overburdened infrastructure (schools, roads, sewer and stormwater systems, parks and open spaces, and trees) and transforming single-family housing neighborhoods.
There is no promise from the county government, nor data they have provided, that “missing middle” housing will be affordable to low-income or even middle-income people, and there is no credible evidence it would increase Arlington’s diversity. In fact, staff has recently moved away from asserting either of those benefits, and rather focused on increasing diversity in housing types and quantity.
A significant part of the county government’s effort is to paint many Arlingtonians as irredeemably racist. Pointing first to the admittedly racist policies of those living in Arlington in the last century, the county then goes on to slur current Arlingtonians.
An example of this tactic is County Board Chairman Libby Garvey’s statement in a formal press release release, supposedly based on a “data-driven approach,” which accused Arlingtonians of engaging in “ongoing housing discrimination.”
The county government’s response to a request for data supporting this accusation produced nothing remotely resembling the picture of Arlington that the government or Garvey are trying to paint. The county government’s own summary of housing complaints shows that there were no – zero – complaints of housing discrimination based on race, color or national origin in the latest year for which data is available, 2019.
Also, the county’s “Working Toward Fair Housing” annual report for 2019 noted (Page 16) that only one out of 100 tests found different treatment based on national origin, but no differences in treatment were found in the re-test.
All this in a county of 236,842 residents.
The problem is not ongoing discrimination but the increasing costs of land and housing that makes Arlington unaffordable for lower- and middle-income people of all backgrounds.
For the chief elected official of our county to make a deliberate, formal and false statement condemning Arlingtonians as complicit in ongoing racial discrimination is divisive, incendiary, and should be outside the bounds of acceptable political rhetoric, especially in this time of heightened political conflict.
It also undermines the credibility of all the other “data-driven” conclusions the county government is providing us on this subject.
Bill Roos, Arlington