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Add Virginia to States Straying From Single-Family Housing

Add Virginia to the growing number of states moving away from single-family housing. 

A report from City Lab says Virginia will soon weigh a proposal to increase housing density in the commonwealth. The report states this bill comes as Democrats in the legislature “seek to put a progressive stamp” on policy in Virginia. 

House Delegate Ibraheem Samirah, representing parts of Fairfax and Loudoun Counties in suburban Washington D.C., introduced the bill in December. The bill also includes a proposal to legalize accessory dwelling units throughout Virginia. 

The bill—HB 152—would legalize duplex homes, townhouses, and cottages in any place currently zoned for single-family housing. 

City Lab states Virginia is struggling with affordability and shortages, with interest in the market growing with the pending arrival of Amazon’s HQ2. 

“This is obviously a good problem to have. We’ve attracted a lot of people to this area that people find to be desirable,” Samirah says.

ATTOM’s report on affordability in Q4 2019 found that the metro of Alexandria City-Arlington in Virginia and Washington D.C. has seen home price growth of 17.6% over the past year. Homes sold for an average of $588,000 during the quarter and 57% of annual wages were needed to purchase a home in the market. 

Oregon became the first state to stray from single-family housing. However, a report by the Willamette Weekly in November 2019 found there has been pushback on House Bill 2001. 

"People are absolutely outraged," says City Commissioner Amanda Fritz, who is the Portland City Council's liaison to the League of Oregon Cities. "There were multiple people saying it needs to be repealed."

Oregon's House Bill 2001 went into effect on August 8, 2019, and mandates that cities with a population of more than or equal to 25,000 must allow high-density zoning on development’s previously reserved for single-family housing.

California, Minnesota, and North Carolina have all taken measures to allow for denser housing in recent months. 

A Los Angeles Times report from October 2019 details how California lawmakers successfully passed pieces of legislation over the past several years that have chipped away at single-family zoning. 

The legislation—SB 50—stalled in November due to concerns over local zoning regulations. 

About Author: Mike Albanese

A graduate of the University of Alabama, Mike Albanese has worked for news publications since 2011 in Texas and Colorado. He has built a portfolio of more than 1,000 articles, covering city government, police and crime, business, sports, and is experienced in crafting engaging features and enterprise pieces. He spent time as the sports editor for the "Pilot Point Post-Signal," and has covered the DFW Metroplex for several years. He has also assisted with sports coverage and editing duties with the "Dallas Morning News" and "Denton Record-Chronicle" over the past several years.
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