Owen: What is the Cost of Housing in Loudoun?

By Amy Owen, President & CEO of the Community Foundation

What is the cost of housing in Loudoun? It’s more expensive than we know. To start, we have to examine how housing affects our community’s future.

When 45% of Loudoun renters are spending more than 30% of their income on rent, we have to ask, “What is the cost of Loudoun housing?” When 61% of Loudoun’s workforce lives outside of the county, we have to question what are we losing about everything we value when it comes to living in Loudoun County.

Loudoun does so much, so well.  We rank as one of the healthiest counties in Virginia. Our crime rate is enviable. We have horses, wineries, and breweries in our backyard. We enjoy the convenience of the Smithsonian to the East and countryside to the West. And, for more than a decade, we have been ranked as one of highest income-earning counties in the U.S. Here in Loudoun County, we enjoy quality of life with vibrant neighborhoods and social diversity. Who wouldn’t want to live here? 

So, what is the cost of housing?  When it comes to workforce housing, it’s the cost of our economic sustainability. Just as roads and bridges are causeways for community development, homes are the building block of economic development—assets that will be around for decades. Assets that are homes to the people who fuel and feed our community, our businesses, and its economy.

No one wins when housing becomes so unaffordable in Loudoun that people have trouble holding onto their jobs. No one wins when our teachers, our medical support staff, and first responders can’t afford to live here. No one wins when businesses can’t count on the ingenuity, entrepreneurial spirit, and day-to-day commitment of a local workforce.

In an independent poll conducted earlier this year, 78% of Loudoun’s residents agree: People who work in Loudoun should be able to live in Loudoun. First step: We must make intentional investments and apply land-use policies that enable people who work here to live here affordably.

This is important: Workforce housing is not a conversation about or an initiative around charity. It is a conversation about Loudoun’s legacy as a community and its future economic prosperity.

In June, the Community Foundation for Loudoun and Northern Fauquier Counties launched a Workforce Housing Now community service campaign amplifying Loudoun’s voice for workforce housing as the missing ingredient to our future economic prosperity.

Take a moment to visit WorkforceHousingNow.org and meet the good people who wish they could live here and work here. Meet the good people who struggle to make ends meet while they do live here. Meet the good people who wish they could hire all the staff necessary to run their business. Workforce housing is a driver of community outcomes. It catalyzes jobs, talent retention, health, education, and social justice—every aspect underscoring the importance of home.  

Like many other community’s tackling this issue across America, we can do this and do this right. Left to its own devices, the market will not solve the shortage of workforce homes. We must build the economic future of Loudoun and elevate this issue by connecting with our friends and neighbors, to our philanthropic community, to our business leaders, and to our elected officials, making this a foundational building block to Loudoun’s economic prosperity. Because workforce housing is foundational.

As we remind folks through our work at the Community Foundation: Community is not just the beneficiary. Community is the solution. 

Led by the Community Foundation for Loudoun and Northern Fauquier Counties, What is the Cost of Loudoun Housing is part of the Workforce Housing Now (workforcehousingnow.org) community service effort amplifying Loudoun’s voice for workforce housing as the missing ingredient to our community’s prosperity. Amy Owen has served as president & CEO of the Community Foundation since 2012.

7 thoughts on “Owen: What is the Cost of Housing in Loudoun?

  • 2022-08-25 at 10:40 am

    Mobile homes are workforce housing. Lobby the Board of Supervisors to allow them.

  • 2022-08-25 at 11:30 am

    Now tell us about “workforce housing” options in McLean, Virginia
    And Oakton, Virginia.
    And Great Falls, Virginia.
    And Potomac, Maryland.
    And Kalorama, Washington DC

    Living where you work is not a right. Personal and household financial decisions are the responsibility of the individual and the family. Not the “community.”

    If you cannot afford to live where you work or don’t wish to have more than X% of your income consumed by housing costs, then you have many options:

    1) Move to an entirely different area and work there.
    2) Move to a neighboring, lower cost area and continue working your same arrangement.
    3) Seek a higher paying job doing the same work.
    4) Improve yourself through training or education to either advance your current career or pursue a new path.
    5) Live in a shared housing arrangement.

    This letter is simply a demand for Loudoun’s taxpayers to foot the bill for yet another social program. One which will inevitably lead to higher taxes AND higher housing costs. This basic, inconvenient economic fact always seems to escape those who are involved.

  • 2022-08-25 at 11:55 am

    Affordable housing programs fail to ensure that those who are getting such support are actually contributing to the county versus using it as another handout. Those that “use” these programs bring no value to the county; typically just cause trouble. We need to protect the county and monies spent on these programs so that those who truly need it and will provide value to the county — proof of employment at a Loudoun county business, school, hospital, etc. – receive it. I do agree that we need more affordable housing for county contributors. Otherwise, we will find ourselves in a worker shortage which is not good for anyone.

  • 2022-08-25 at 1:02 pm

    Other wealthy counties thrive with no built-in ghettos funded by the “spend tax dollar virtue signalers).
    Once they introduce the teachers and first responders you know they are begging for more money.
    Someone, anyone tell me you were part of the poll Amy references, I wasn’t, my wife wasn’t, none of my friends or acquaintances were polled!

  • 2022-08-25 at 2:14 pm

    An effective first step Ms. Owen, would be for you and your fellow do-gooders to lobby the Board of Supervisors to slash Loudoun’s stratospheric property taxes, eliminate waste and red tape in county government.

    Yet, I can’t shake the feeling that’s not on your policy agenda.

  • 2022-08-25 at 2:27 pm

    I suspect that neither the county nor state governments have the legal authority to control the cost of housing available in Loudoun County. I’d be interested in learning what government entity has successfully managed to create sufficient affordable housing in an area even half the size of Loudoun County. None come to mind. This letter offers no models or specific solutions other than “getting involved” and donating to their foundation.

    Government can’t manage the roads, busses and metro or schools. How in the world are they going to manage housing for 100,000 or 200,000 people? Builders want to build high-end homes to maximize profits. The county wants high end homes to maximize property taxes. The people building and regulating housing have a built-in bias toward creating more and more expensive housing. There is a conflict of interest built-in to the system. To expect them act against their own interests is folly. And yet we still get vague calls for “equity” and “fairness” and “affordable” housing.

  • 2022-08-26 at 7:46 am

    I agree wholeheartedly with Amy Owen. Folks who work in Loudoun should be able to live there. It’s really not that hard. Just create more studio & one-bedroom apartments. Have them priced reasonably. And offer more rental assistance, including federal housing-assistance funds. Lower-income folks aren’t asking for the world; just a fighting chance to live in the Land of Love. Happy Women’s Equality Day Loudoun!

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