Editor: Loudoun is a community that values hard workers, but when it comes to housing, there is an unfair reality: working-class families spend more than 70% of their income on rent.
The county must innovate housing programs for our working-class communities. There are many homes, but only for people who earn $80,000 or more. There are no housing options for the working-class community, which earns less than $40,000 a year.
Elected officials can choose to prioritize the housing needs of the working class. We are the families of essential workers: mowing lawns, preparing food in restaurants, clearing streets after a snowfall, caring for children, and cleaning homes. Often, we have to start additional jobs, search for food banks, or stop buying medicines to afford monthly rent payments.
I have been active in my community through New Virginia Majority to advocate for affordable housing. Through NVM, I joined a Tenant Working Group and participated in meetings with the Department of Housing and Community Development over six months, developing a rent buy-down program for tenants using ARPA emergency funds. Our community needs $6 million of the ARPA housing funds to go to the buy-down program, which will provide urgent rent relief to cost-burdened tenants. In the process, we have encountered setbacks due to administrative changes in the housing department. We have gone back and forth many times on various proposals.
I became hopeful, only to be told to keep waiting. Help now would be very timely. When working-class families can’t find housing, we must move away, leaving Loudoun County without essential workers and a less diverse community.
Ismael Perez, Sterling