NAACP Fauquier County Housing Committee issues ACTION ALERT


NAACP Fauquier County Branch 7059

Housing Committee

ACTION ALERT:

ASK WARRENTON TOWN COUNCIL TO PAUSE APPROVAL OF PROPOSED COMPREHENSIVE PLAN


WHAT: Fauquier NAACP urges individuals and organizations to join it in requesting the Warrenton Town Council to pause approval of “Plan Warrenton 2040” until it is updated to clearly address affordable housing and the preservation and stabilization of existing communities, specifically minority communities, in the Town of Warrenton.


WHEN:

  • Contact Warrenton Town Council and Mayor Nevill NOW!

  • PUBLIC HEARING, Warrenton Town Council, 21 Main Street, Warrenton, VA 20186 on Tuesday, April 13, 2021 at 6:30 p.m.

WHY: Housing is the biggest expense for individuals and families. Access to affordable, stable and safe housing affects education and health outcomes as well as job security for the people of our community. Systemic barriers to homeownership and affordable rentals perpetuate the racial wealth gap across the nation, in Virginia, in Fauquier County, and in the Town of Warrenton. Over 41% of Warrenton renters are cost burdened and 1,176 Warrenton households overall are cost burdened, per the Regional Housing study. The Housing Section of the proposed comprehensive plan fails to clearly address the housing needs of low income, very low income, and extremely low income households as well as the housing disparities experienced by people of color. The plan emphasizes “attainable” over “affordable” housing. The availability of affordable housing, however, is a matter of equity that cannot be avoided and must be addressed in the Town’s comprehensive plan. Also, emphasis must be placed on preserving what remains of early African American communities, e.g., Madisontown, Oliver City, and Haiti Street. There is a lack of data focused on assessing the needs of current residents of historically African American communities and a failure to evaluate the effects of proposed land-use and zoning changes on those historic communities. This is a big concern given the exposure they may have to redevelopment from the character district/UDA (Urban Development Areas).


HOW:

  • Write letters to Warrenton Town Council (see sample letter and instructions below).

  • Attend and speak at the PUBLIC HEARING, Warrenton Town Council, 21 Main Street, Warrenton, VA 20186 on Tuesday, April 13, 2021 at 6:30 p.m. (Practice social distancing and wear a mask.)

For Additional Information:

Instructions:

Copy the sample letter below to an email.

Update the letter with your personal story.

Add “Town Comp Plan Comments” to the email subject line.

Include your name with address and phone number.

Send to this address by April 13th at 12PM: citizencomment@warrentonva.gov


Letters also may be mailed to Town Council or hand-delivered at 21 Main Street, Warrenton, VA 20186; letters must be received by noon on Tuesday, April 13.


(NOTE: The reason for meeting the 12 noon deadline is to ensure that your comments are included in the binders handed to the Council. However, comments to anyone in government regarding the Comprehensive Plan are relevant and will be part of the FOIA record. So, please, send something in even if you happen to miss the deadline.)


Comments may also be submitted to the Town Council via an online form here.


Review the NAACP HOUSING COMMITTEE LETTER ADDENDUM below for additional background information. This does not need to be included in your email.


If you need guidance, reach out to the Fauquier NAACP Housing Committee at: naacpfauquierco.housing@gmail.com


SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear Town Council and Mayor Nevill,

Please pause the approval of the Town Comp plan until it is updated to clearly address affordable housing and the preservation and stabilization of existing communities, specifically minority communities in the Town of Warrenton.


[Select one or more below to add your personal story:

● How has the lack of affordable housing affected you, your family, friends, or the town of Warrenton?

● How has substandard housing affected you, your family, friends, or the town of Warrenton?

● What observations have you made about the housing disparities/inequities in the town of Warrenton?

● What issues have you observed, or do you see as a risk to the preservation and stability of early African American communities in the town of Warrenton?]


The town plan emphasizes missing middle housing and attainable housing without adequately addressing the affordable housing needs of low income, very low income, and extremely low income residents (per HUD standards) and the housing types that will best address the needs of those community members.


Of the top 15 jobs in Warrenton, the majority are very-low income and below, including retail sales workers, food and beverage service workers, clerks and home health aides. Missing middle housing might initially have lower housing costs than traditional single family detached homes, but it is still market rate housing that will naturally attract higher income residents than those I am asking you to address here.


In Warrenton, over 40% of renters and 1,176 households are cost burdened. Renting is the first step for lower income and entry-level workers, those on fixed incomes, and young people just starting out to acquire sufficient wealth to buy a home or simply have adequate, stable housing. When home/rental availability and prices are out of reach, like many are in Warrenton, people are driven from the community or become so cost burdened that everything else in their lives is affected: from health and education to job outcomes, all of which place more strain on community resources.


In addition, the plan fails to analyze or address the effects of displacement, gentrification, or substandard housing on vulnerable communities. Emphasis must be placed on preserving what remains of existing communities, specifically early African American communities, e.g., Madisontown, Oliver City, and Haiti Street. Addressing the housing needs of current residents, including residents of these communities, should be a priority.


I ask that the Town Council reflect on my own personal experience and consider revising the plan’s goals to address the flaws I have highlighted in this letter. I also ask that the plan identify specific metrics and data by which progress toward these goals may be measured, to be revisited every five years, as recommended in the NAACP housing committee letter addendum.


Respectfully submitted,


[Add your name, address, and phone number here]


**END SAMPLE LETTER**


NAACP HOUSING COMMITTEE LETTER ADDENDUM

(The following was sent to the Warrenton Town Council to summarize the list of changes requested by the Fauquier NAACP Housing Committee as an addendum to their February 8, 2021 report, which can be found here).


Goals, Data, and Metrics - Requested Changes to the Housing Section of the Town Comp Plan and the Density Bonus Recommendations. Metrics should be updated every 5 years.

  • Provide a current inventory/count and analysis of substandard housing and a needs assessment for vulnerable neighborhoods to develop strategies to combat further gentrification, displacement or inaction on the part of town government.

  • Add a list of priorities for public investments in our existing neighborhoods such as expanding sidewalk connections, improving lighting, implementing traffic-calming measures, improving storm water management, and facilitating affordable hookup to public water and sewer for existing residents (referenced in Piedmont Environmental Council’s recommendations).

  • Document and review the comp plan’s affordable housing goals from the most recent Comprehensive Plan to determine what was accomplished over the past 20 years. Include what worked and what didn't.

  • Create a baseline of existing affordable housing units in the town by type, program, and income restriction.

  • Document the number of town residents living in affordable housing (including those using housing choice vouchers, utilizing other Foothills Housing Network services, and affordable rental and homeownership provided by government, private, and nonprofit entities).

  • Provide and track the number of cost burdened town residents renting and owning.

  • Identify by Average Median Income (AMI) the number of affordable housing units that must be built in 5-year increments through 2040, based on housing needs analysis provided by town, county, and region studies.

  • Change the Plan’s recommended density bonus to prioritize building/revitalizing affordable housing units over amenities such as art, parking, and parks until affordable housing goals are met.

  • Include racial/ethnic population and homeownership/renter rates since at least 2000; identify and analyze negative trends to make recommendations for, and implementation of, corrective action.

  • Collaborate with partners at the county and regional level to develop a housing-focused alliance that addresses building and maintaining affordable housing.

  • Populate the recommended housing task force/committee with subject matter experts and other members of the community who have a vested interest in ensuring the creation and retention of an equitable array of housing options. The Town Council should identify a timeline for when this committee will convene.


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