Housing Master Plan

Due to sharply increasing real estate costs and regional development pressures over the past decade, the City of Alexandria faces a severe shortage of affordable housing. Visit the Housing Master Plan page to learn about the City's Housing for All policy and goal of developing or preserving 2,000 affordable housing units through 2025.

Page updated on Nov 4, 2021 at 12:48 PM

What is the Housing Master Plan?

On December 14, 2013 the Alexandria City Council unanimously approved the City’s first Housing Master Plan (HMP). The HMP, the result of a multi-year public planning process, guides future preservation and enhancement of affordable housing opportunities, community diversity, and economic sustainability in Alexandria. To learn about how the HMP was developed click here.

As a result of sharply increasing real estate costs and regional development pressures over the past decade, the City faces a severe shortage of affordable housing. Since 2000, there have been dramatic declines in market affordable rental units (more than 14,300 units have been lost between 2000 and 2020) and in opportunities for affordable homeownership for low and moderate income individuals and families. As the growth in housing costs continues to outpace the growth in incomes, Alexandrians are increasingly becoming housing cost burdened (defined as paying 30% or more of household income on housing-related costs). According to the latest American Community Survey estimates, approximately 14,500 renter households earning less than $75,000 are housing cost burdened and have limited ability to invest in education, healthcare, daycare, and other key necessities; approximately 6,600 renter households earning less than $50,000 spend 50% or more on housing-related costs (Source: ACS 5-year Estimates 2015-2019 for City of Alexandria). 

What are the Housing Master Plan's Guiding Principles?

The HMP established principles, goals, strategies, and tools to meet the City's anticipated affordable housing needs through 2025. The following principles create an overarching vision for the plan's implementation:

  1. Facilitate a variety of housing options for households of all incomes.
  2. Expand housing choice for people of all ages and abilities.
  3. Partner with nonprofits, ARHA, and private developers to leverage City resources.
  4. Prioritize certain factors for distribution and preservation of affordable housing, including the location of affordable housing in transit-oriented, amenity-rich areas and the strategic preservation and/or production of affordable housing in large-scale developments and/or redevelopments, especially where existing market affordable multifamily housing is being impacted.
  5. Promote the integration of affordable housing to foster successful and vibrant mixed-income communities.
  6. Recognize the critical role affordable housing plays in the City's economic sustainability.

How Do We Track Progress?

The HMP sets a goal of developing or preserving 2,000 affordable housing units through 2025.

  • NEW! Track our quarterly progress! The HMP Progress Report is reported quarterly to the Alexandria Housing Affordability Advisory Committee (updated November 2021).   
  • Visit our Affordable Housing page to learn about ongoing and recently approved and completed projects.
  • Visit our Publications page to learn about the city's Housing Trust Fund, Affordable Set-Aside, Homeownership, Fair Housing Testing, and other programs. 

A number of implementation tools are identified for further study and consideration in the HMP.  Since 2014, the City Council has approved the following tools:

  • an amendment to grandfather parking requirements for affordable housing projects that undergo a substantial renovation;
  • an increase in the level of predevelopment funding provided to facilitate affordable housing through secured, repayable loans;
  • a reduction in parking requirements for new affordable housing projects; 
  • an increase from 20% to 30% in bonus density for affordable housing;
  • an update to the Housing Contributions Policy to address cases pursuing additional density, senior housing projects, and commercial to residential building conversions; and
  • an amendment to permit Accessory Dwelling Units.  

How was the Draft Housing Master Plan Developed?

The HMP planning process was designed to ensure participation by stakeholders through: a series of 15 public meetings; a bus tour of the City's existing affordable housing stock; and an allocation exercise which gave stakeholders the opportunity to consider future housing needs and locations.

The HMP Advisory Group was composed of the City's Affordable Housing Advisory Committee (AHAC) plus an additional five appointees, including both public sector and private sector representatives. This group was charged with providing feedback on data presented and developed goals and objectives to guide the creation of the implementation plan.

On November 30, 2012, the City of Alexandria released its draft Housing Master Plan and the draft Housing Master Plan At a Glance for public review and comment. Two town hall meetings were held to receive questions and comments on the Plan. The first meeting was held on January 24, 2013 at Samuel Tucker Elementary School (click here for more information). A second Town Hall meeting was held on February 11, 2013 at Jefferson-Houston Elementary School (click here for more information). Following a 90-day comment period, the Planning commission and City Council held work sessions on the draft plan. The Planning Commission held a public hearing on the Revised Draft Housing Master Plan on December 3, 2013.