Letter: Todd Cimino-Johnson, Leesburg

Editor: Leesburg and Loudoun County we have a problem. Owning or renting a home is not attainable for everyone who lives here. 

The Census Bureau reported that the median home value in 2019 was $508,100, the median mortgage was $2,805, and the median gross rent was $1,870. A single individual making $15 an hour before taxes would make $2,600 a month and take home around $2,000. Most service jobs and entry-level jobs I have researched in the area are paying $10 to $15 an hour. A couple making $15 an hour would pay almost 50% of their take-home pay in rent. Not to mention food, clothing, healthcare, household items, and transportation. Rent should be no more than 30% of take-home pay, according to economists. If these two hypothetical individuals have children, then sacrifices must be made.  See the problem?   

Loudoun County is listed as one of the wealthiest counties in the nation. To those who serve food, wait on us at check-out lines, teach our students, public servants, and deliver service items, they cannot afford to live here. Their only option is to live outside of the area as the market has priced them out from living where they work. Not every individual can afford to buy a car to drive into the area to work in Loudoun County either.     

The government does have some role to play in making sure those who work here can also live here. Allowing more modular and mobile homes in Loudoun County is a start. Last month, we all learned that Leesburg’s only mobile home community was sold for $11 million. Those individuals are not paying $1,870 in rent but something much less. Those residents will have to vacate, most likely in a year, to a much more expensive location.   

The local government can also look at any restrictions on apartments, building height, minimum size lots, and parking requirements. Regulations like these can cause builders not to build affordable housing. Next, local governments can work with builders who want to build affordable housing units. 

Lastly, the local government could establish public-private partnerships with major companies here, or that will be coming.  Government must be willing to reach out and make new ideas happen even if it has not been done before. We need everyone who works in Loudoun County and wants to live here, able to live here. It is a beautiful place to live and raise a family.      

Todd Cimino-Johnson, Leesburg

14 thoughts on “Letter: Todd Cimino-Johnson, Leesburg

  • 2021-10-24 at 9:55 pm

    Your argument t makes a terribly invalid assumption. Virtually no heads of households are working in entry-level jobs! Most of these jobs are held by younger people, most often still living at home with parents or extended family.

    Governments want to build as many high-value housing units as possible within their jurisdictions because it vastly increases property taxes. You could see this in Vienna as older houses were demolished and new mansions built. The property taxes would go from ~4,000 to ~11,000 per year as soon as the house was sold.

    In fact, I met one resident of Vienna whose annual property tax exceeded the annual cost of his original, paid-off mortgage! He eventually sold his home because he was basically renting his lot and home from the town! And government involvement in higher education is the main driving force in making college unaffordable for so many young people. Government wrecks everything it touches and we need less government rather than more.

    Governments skew markets. And they make terrible landlords. Look at public housing in Alexandria for a prime example of government failures in Norther Virginia.

    • 2021-10-26 at 4:43 pm

      When the mobile home park made the news we all knew that the LoCo govt could do NADA about this. It was cruel to “lead” these people on as the buyer is going to get every penny he can squeeze out of this site. High density!? THAT should be rectified fer sure, but it won’t be. Golden Rule..he who has the gold makes the rules.
      It is a real shame these folks will not have options. Leesburg and Loudoun keeps buying all this land, put a mobile park (nice ones DO exist) on one of these parcels . No one can interfere with this transaction and these folks were deluded from the beginning!
      Ara, it does suck, but it is what it is. Like I said Leesburg/Loudoun..ante up some of that land you keep purchasing with MY taxes without my input.

  • 2021-10-25 at 8:39 am

    This is such a great letter to the editor. I couldn’t agree more. Affordable housing is vital in Loudoun County. And there’s also a need to increase the minimum wage to $15/hour. Terry McAuliffe is pushing for both of those things. Glenn Youngkin is too busy trashing Loudoun County on the basis of partial information. I admire politicians who act for the greater good not their political benefit. That’s the quality JFK embodied & called “political courage.” I see that much more with Terry McAuliffe rather than Glenn Youngkin. Please vote Loudoun!

  • 2021-10-25 at 8:56 am

    I see a bigger issue with a couple both earning $15 per hour or less. Perhaps better choices should have been made along the way. How can we address that issue while also addressing the housing issue.

  • 2021-10-25 at 11:41 am

    A short commute is not a “right.”

    Anyone asserting otherwise is simply perpetrating a money grab.

  • 2021-10-25 at 4:49 pm

    Nice try but it isn’t that hard to create affordable housing. Instead of giving away the store to the developers (who finance partisan campaigns and force our property taxes to rise and schools to be crowded) just allow any home with 5 acres to have TWO accessory apartments on the site along with the house instead of just one. Second, lower the property tax burden to anyone who rents to an adult with no children in the school system. The only hard part is to try to tear politicians away from all those re-election checks from the real estate development community! 🙂

  • 2021-10-26 at 7:37 am

    Really, Jonathan? You don’t think the following statement is also making a terribly invalid assumption:
    “Virtually no heads of households are working in entry-level jobs!”

    Do you have any data to back up that claim? Are you telling me that all the teachers, public servants, etc. that the author referred to are all young people living with their parents? Certainly not in my experience.

    That just seems like another broad assumption to conveniently benefit your myopic viewpoint — Government is bad! Blah!

    • 2021-10-26 at 9:11 am

      Here’s some data for you:
      The starting teacher’s salary in this county is $55,600, or about $32/hour for ten months of work.
      School bus drivers are advertised at $22 an hour plus a significant hiring bonus.

      Your life choices, your housing choices and your spending choices ARE YOURS, not mine.

      • 2021-10-26 at 10:20 am

        Who asked for data about salaries? I was asking the poster to back up his claim about no heads of households working entry-level jobs. And who said anything about other people’s choices being your choices instead of their own? Did you make a choice to not learn how to read? Classic straw man argument. Come back when you have a real argument to make.

        • 2021-10-27 at 9:02 pm

          YOU brought up “teachers” and “public servants.”
          YOUR WORDS taken directly from your comment.
          Then you demanded data.

          I provided it.
          “Strawman” doesn’t mean what you think it means.

          • 2021-10-29 at 10:02 am

            If I asked for data about Venus, and you gave me data about Jupiter, does that make your point valid? I know exactly what Strawman means. It means misrepresenting a point to make your point. That’s exactly what you did. Putting things in ALL CAPS isn’t going to change that. Trust me, I’m smarter than you.

  • 2021-10-26 at 3:48 pm

    When workers truly cannot afford to live or commute to work in Loudoun, businesses will be forced to pay wages that attract them.
    Problem solved without government programs and subsidies.
    This is not an appropriate role for government or use of taxpayers dollars.

  • 2021-10-26 at 7:35 pm

    Once again for everybody who doesn’t know: There is no constitutional right to be able to afford a house whereever you want to. That’s why a resident of Herndon can not sue Fairfax County because they can not find a house that they can afford in McLean or Great Falls. It’s as simple as that. If you are a low-wage earner, there are plenty of “affordable” places all over our region. Not to mention rental places within Loudoun. Matter of fact, Loudoun County needs to be very careful not to become a place where social welfare recipients flock to due to subsidized housing that attract crime and other social ills.

  • 2021-10-26 at 8:42 pm

    Since when has it become an absolute right that someone owns a house? If you are working at an entry level job, the low wage and your desire to own a house should be the motivation to better yourself and your job prospects.
    People, like Tim Smith (the liberal mouthpiece on every comment forum) who push for a $15 minimum wage don’t realize the implications of it: Places like McDonald’s and other fast food, retail, and entry level jobs weren’t meant to be careers and by giving them a high minimum wage, you allow them to just settle for that job and not try to learn as much as they can and move on to something better, keeping those jobs open for young people who want to start out in the working world. Instead, we get people clogging up those jobs for many, many, years and the businesses, in order to meet the high minimum wage, simply reduce staff elsewhere and raise their prices.
    The bottom line is if you want to buy a home, get yourself motivated to do better in your career.

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