In a public opinion poll conducted by the Community Foundation for Loudoun and Northern Fauquier Counties the first week of June, nearly 78% of respondents agreed that people who work in Loudoun County should be able to live in Loudoun County.
Also, 67% of survey respondents agreed that Loudoun County would benefit from a wider range of housing options, including smaller starter homes, duplexes, townhomes, and apartments.
“Survey findings show Loudoun residents recognize the need for workforce housing,” said Allison Metzger, Director of Community Engagement for the Community Foundation for Loudoun and Northern Fauquier Counties. “Many households—including those of essential workers like first responders, medical personnel, teachers, and service workers—are spending more than 30% of their monthly income on housing making it harder and harder for them to stay in the County.”
The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development considers families spending 30% or more of their income on housing to be cost burdened.
“Many in my workforce cannot find housing of their own in the County. So many quit because of it,” said Tony Stafford, owner of three Ford’s Fish Shack locations in Loudoun.
On June 14, the Community Foundation for Loudoun and Northern Fauquier Counties launched a new campaign, “Workforce Housing Now, Because Housing is Foundational,” to support an increase of workforce housing in Loudoun County.
“You can literally predict an individual’s lifespan and healthy outcomes based on their ZIP code,” said Community Foundation President and CEO Amy Owen. “We have kicked off this community awareness campaign to help us all become better educated about this critical housing need and find solutions to address it.”
The Loudoun Board of Supervisors in September 2021 adopted an Unmet Housing Needs Strategic Plan, but later backed off plans to dedicate a half-penny of real estate tax revenue to the county’s Housing Trust Fund. The Community Foundation pushed the county to ensure a dedicated source of revenue for that work.
“The truth is workforce housing looks just like market rate housing. Studies show workforce housing does not decrease property values and in fact helps build even stronger communities,” Metzger said.
“There’s never been a tougher time than now to try to find people for our front-line employee positions - our bartenders, servers, cooks and even our managers,” Stafford said. “The most common complaint I hear when interviewing people is housing. They struggle to find places to live in the County and be able to have an apartment, a townhouse, or a home.”
The poll was conducted by a professional polling company that provided 514 responses from a balanced political spectrum and ZIP code representation of Loudoun County residents, according to the Community Foundation.