New Research: Improving Rules and Engagement in the Washington, DC Region

Earlier this month, ULI Washington released a new report on Increasing Housing Supply and Attainability: Improving Rules & Engagement to Build More Housing. Neighborhood Fundamentals was a proud contributor to this report, along with Rhodeside & Harwell and other members of the region’s ULI Housing Impact Task Force. Click “read more” for findings and recommendations.

New Publication - Building Northern Virginia's Future: Policies to Create a More Affordable, Equitable Housing Supply

By Michael A. Spotts


In recent years, the issue of housing affordability has gained prominence in the national dialogue. Efforts to address the rising costs for safe, decent homes have generated substantial debate about the role of market-rate development, the availability of committed affordable housing, and the causes and impacts of gentrification. Neighborhood Fundamentals is pleased to announce the release of two new publications for the Northern Virginia Affordable Housing Alliance that address these topics: Building Northern Virginia’s Future: Policies to Create a More Affordable, Equitable Housing Supply and a companion Research Justifications report.

This body of research examines the factors that are influencing housing costs in the inner-Northern Virginia region – population and economic growth, demographic change, shifting consumer preferences, among others. It also discusses the factors that have inhibited the growth of an equitable housing supply, including local land use and the regulatory framework. At a high level, this research found that addressing affordability across the income spectrum involves more than simply increasing development. Adding new housing supply may have varying impacts on affordability, particularly for those with the lowest incomes. An equitable approach to development addresses supply needs across multiple dimensions, including tenure, building type, and location/neighborhood characteristics.

This report offers recommendations to advocates, policymakers and practitioners for improving affordability while advancing social equity. The recommendations reflect the notion that the most urgent action should be directed to the areas of greatest need and to the region’s most vulnerable residents. Recommendations are organized into four categories:

  • Proactively preserve and expand housing options for the region’s low-income and historically marginalized households;

  • Increase market-rate development and diversify the region’s housing stock to accommodate household and job growth;

  • Undertake bureaucratic improvements to improve the efficiency of current policies;

  • Improve communications and community engagement processes to better facilitate the policy changes necessary to improve affordability.

Each category includes specific recommendations that the region’s elected officials, city/county staff, funders, and developers can support to improve the region’s development climate, improve affordability, and increase access to opportunity for all of the region’s residents.

Interested in learning more about addressing these challenges in your city or region? Email

Northern Virginia's Preservation Challenge: A Closer Look at the Route 1 Corridor

By Michael A. Spotts, President

Following up on the June release of the Northern Virginia Affordable Housing Alliance's (NVAHA) research on Northern Virginia’s Preservation Challenge: Trends, Threats, and Opportunities, last week NVAHA and the Coalition for Smarter Growth hosted A Community Forum on Preservation through a Lens of Equity and Inclusion. This forum focused on the redevelopment of Fairfax County's Route 1/Richmond Highway Corridor. The area is the subject of the EMBARK Richmond Highway multimodal transportation plan. The corridor is relatively diverse, and includes a significant number of market-rate rental properties that serve low- and moderate income households. Fairfax County is commencing a planning strategy to address the challenge of preserving affordability within the corridor so that the catalytic transportation and redevelopment investments benefit the people who currently live there, especially those most vulnerable to displacement.

In addition to presentations and/or comments by Fairfax County Supervisor Dan Storck, NVAHA's Michelle Krocker, and the Coalition for Smarter Growth's Stewart Schwartz. The event was headlined by a practitioner panel discussion, which featured: 

Nicholas Bracco – The Michaels Organization
Karla Bruce – Chief Equity Officer, Fairfax County
Nina Janopaul – Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing
Shelley Murphy – Wesley Housing Development Corporation

I also had the pleasure of presenting Neighborhood Fundamentals' preservation research, conducted on behalf of NVAHA.

Resources from the event are included below:

Presentation: Northern Virginia’s Preservation Challenge: Trends, Threats and Opportunities - Michael A. Spotts
Presentation on Columbia Pike Plan – Nina Janopaul, APAH
Presentation on One Fairfax Policy – Karla Bruce, Fairfax County
EMBARK Richmond Highway Comprehensive Plan Update Affordable and Workforce Housing Map
Opportunity Zones Located along Richmond Highway

For more information on this research, please contact Michelle Krocker, Executive Director of the Northern Virginia Affordable Housing Alliance and Michael A. Spotts, President of Neighborhood Fundamentals, LLC

June Roundup: Cross-Sector Coordination, Preserving Rental Housing, Comments on Facility Co-Location, and Other Notes

By Michael A. Spotts

As summer (and vacation season) starts, it's easy for news and events to slip through the cracks. To bring everyone up to speed, here's a roundup of what Neighborhood Fundamentals has been doing over the last month: