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