At the end of March, the Community Progress Network held its third roundtable. The discussion focused on the state of affordable housing in Arlington, broken into discussions around the following questions:
- How well is your housing and neighborhood working for you and your family?
- What are some of the most important features or characteristics of a community that are important to you?
- How easy or hard has it been to find housing that is affordable to you and your family?
- What resources and/or information have you used (or would like to use)?
Over 155 low-income Arlingtonians discussed their experiences and impressions on the state of affordable housing currently. Translators were available for participants who spoke Spanish, Arabic, Amharic, and Mongolian. The diversity of the group went beyond languages: teens aged 13-18 comprised four discussion tables, 19 attendees have a case worker and live in Permanent Supportive Housing, 35 live in committed affordable housing apartments, 81 live in non-committed affordable housing, and 2 receive housing grants. Ten former residents also attended and discussed their experiences and ultimate decision to leave Arlington. As with the previous roundtable events, participants were provided with dinner and childcare was available.
Common reasons given to why residents choose to live in Arlington included safety in the larger community, the resources available, and the quality of Arlington Public Schools. Those benefits often outweighed the high price of housing and concerns about possible rent increases, for residents who continue to reside in Arlington. Even residents living in committed affordable units struggled, some spending over fifty percent of their income on rent.
Throughout the discussion, it was clear that residents felt a strong connection to Arlington and prioritized remaining due to the community feeling and easily available resources such as grocery stores, libraries, transit, and other programs. However, the ease of doing so in affordability and accessing programs to assist them is a challenge for many residents.
The report of the event, including coded data and the notes from each table, can be found here.
APAH is the founding member of CPN, and has served as a lead convener of CPN activities since its launch in 2016.