Wednesday, Mar 24, 2021

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Adopts Amendments to WDU Policy

The Board of Supervisors adopted modifications to its Workforce Dwelling Unit (WDU) Administrative Policy Guidelines at its hearing held on February 23, 2021. The decision marked the conclusion of over a year of evaluation. A Board-appointed Task Force began reviewing the adopted WDU Administrative Policy Guidelines in 2019 with the goal of addressing the need for affordable housing in Fairfax County. It was clear that the qualifying WDU income tiers of 100% and 120% of the Area Median Income, or AMI, were not addressing workforce housing goals and objectives. The Task Force faced the challenge of trying to address the issue of affordability without placing an unreasonable financial burden on the multi-family residential development community. The Task Force recommendation did not come to the Board with a unanimous vote as representatives of the development community continued to have concerns regarding the financial impact of the proposal.

With adoption of the Task Force recommendation, the Board revised text in the area plans, and most importantly modified the recommended WDU percentages and income tiers for proposed residential developments. The adopted WDU Administrative Policy Guidelines are applicable to rental projects only. Countywide modifications include a reduction in the rental WDU commitment level from 12% to 8% of the total number of proposed dwelling units, and a reduction in the maximum household income tier from 120% to 80% of the AMI. For rental developments in Tysons, the WDU commitment level is reduced from 20% to 13% with a maximum household income tier of 80% of the AMI. The prior WDU Guidelines are compared to the adopted WDU Guidelines in the chart below.

The multi-family residential community asked the Board to include a follow-on motion to direct staff to explore different measures associated with generating WDU production that could help balance and mitigate the cost of providing WDUs Countywide. While the Planning Commission recommended such a motion, the Board elected not to do so. The Board did recommend re-visiting the adopted WDU Administrative Policy Guidelines in five years. The multi-family development community continues to believe that there may be financial challenges as the new WDU recommendations are added to other typical proffers.

Fairfax County intends to review and evaluate the WDU Administrative Policy Guidelines for for-sale developments in the coming months.

Please contact Lynne Strobel with questions regarding the provision of WDUs in Fairfax County.