Letter: Sofia Saiyed, Sterling

Editor:  This month, the Board of Supervisors became the first board in Loudoun’s history to dedicate funding to affordable housing as part of the county budget. The board also voted to allocate $12 million of the county’s remaining ARPA funds to Preservation of Affordable Housing and Displacement Services. Together, this adds up to an historic investment of over $18.2 million to address the county’s housing crisis.

New Virginia Majority members have given testimony, attended budget hearings, signed petitions, and met with county officials to raise awareness of the plight of working families spending more than 70% of their incomes on rent. We applaud the Board for taking this significant step forward. 

The investment couldn’t have come at a better time. Thanks to pandemic rental assistance and eviction protections, the county has thus far avoided a massive tsunami of eviction, but what we’re seeing now is the gradual tide of displacement. Landlords are raising rents by hundreds of dollars, forcing many essential workers to make a difficult choice of whether to pack up and leave.

Loudoun’s median rent is currently $2,600. In order to afford that rent, a household would need to earn $104,000/year. Only 20% of Loudoun County workers make at least that amount. Our county has become prohibitively expensive for the vast majority of people who work here, especially for workers in minimum wage jobs. Our members are Loudoun’s essential workers in industries such as childcare, cleaning, restaurants, construction, landscaping, and retail, and they earn less than 40% of the Area Median Income. The fact of the matter is that there is nearly no housing in Loudoun that these essential workers can afford, and we are at risk of losing what little does exist.

We are hopeful that with more financial resources, the county can take steps to ensure that the county’s essential workforce can continue to live where they work. County rent subsidies that make up the difference between what landlords are charging and what working class families can actually pay could quickly facilitate access to existing housing. This approach would enable current residents to continue living in their neighborhoods as rents rapidly rise, and keep children in their schools. 

The county should also adopt—and fully fund—a policy of no net loss of affordable units in the county. This could be done through the preservation of existing units through public financing, replacement of units on site as part of a larger redevelopment, and replacement of units through new development in transit-friendly locations.

The most important aspect of any intervention is that it must be designed for families earning below 40% AMI, or else they will also contribute to gentrification and displacement of existing communities that are home to Loudoun’s essential workforce.

We thank the Board of Supervisors for standing with our county’s essential workers and low-income residents by investing in housing and we hope that it is just the beginning of a long-term strategy for affordable housing.

Sofia Saiyed, Sterling

Lead Organizer, New Virginia Majority Loudoun

9 thoughts on “Letter: Sofia Saiyed, Sterling

  • 2022-04-21 at 10:29 pm
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    I accept and respect the writers opinion as well as the BOS for dedicating funds for the purpose of addressing the issue but what exactly is the BOS doing to resolve the issue?

  • 2022-04-22 at 5:29 am
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    Question for writer: If rents are moving upward (which I agree they are) why isn’t the county approving more rental projects so the supply meets the demand thereby balancing upward price pressure and perhaps even pushing it down again? Approving large projects with a few ADU’s isn’t fixing the problem and neither is recirculating tax funds while Loudoun already has one of the highest property tax rates in Virginia. Weren’t there supposed to be massive amounts of affordable apartment buildings to be built as part of the Metro contribution of our tax dollars sales pitch???? 🙂

    • 2022-04-22 at 4:58 pm
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      Come on… leftists don’t deal with facts. They want government to be the solution for every problem that exists. Unfortunately for every problem government “resolves,” it creates three new ones. It’s rather like the mythological Hydra.

      At least you are proposing that we look for the originally promised efforts… trouble is, all of that contribution was probably spent on all of these studies to put a bridge in, do an “independent study” into the School Board’s actions, a study to say how there is a “lack of equity” in the schools (the real answer to the lack of an equal outcome is that the student and parents are not making equal efforts, not because of some idiotic opressor/opressed based on skin color reason), and other idiotic things trying to promote the failed leftist ideologies.

  • 2022-04-22 at 8:47 am
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    I’m glad there are people like Sofia Saiyed in Loudoun. Everyone should have a fighting chance to live in the Land of Love. Yet the rents are exorbitant! And I’ve heard horror stories about how some landlords treat their tenants. No renter in Loudoun should be relegated to homelessness due to unreasonable rent increases. Fortunately, the BOS is taking steps to rectify the problem. Happy Ramadan Loudoun!

  • 2022-04-22 at 9:33 am
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    Leftist organization complains about leftist tax and inflationary polices: demands more regressive leftist wealth redistribution.

    See how this works?

  • 2022-04-22 at 2:01 pm
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    The word “investment” is used multiple times in this letter to describe what is a giveaway to lower income residents.
    Investment implies those providing the funds will get a return. In this case, not really.
    It is a simple case of redistribution of income.
    Why do democrats always disguise their tax and spend policies as “investments” when they are nothing more than another form of welfare or crony payoffs?

  • 2022-04-27 at 9:47 pm
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    “No renter in Loudoun should be relegated to homelessness due to unreasonable rent increases. ”

    Hey Timmy, have you ever heard of supply and demand? Tell us who decides what qualifies as an “unreasonable” rent increase.

    Here we have the BOS using taxpayer money for something they have no business messing with.

    The market should drive this.

  • 2022-04-29 at 2:22 pm
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    Thievery by the Board of Supervisors is called…thievery!

  • 2022-05-02 at 9:21 am
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    How about the BOS investing so that all residents have automobile equity?

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