The number of signatures needed on a petition to run for President of the United States in Virginia is 10,000, yet in order to get a housing authority referendum on the November ballot, the Arlington Green Party must get a whopping 3,000 signatures—a requirement that might take an act of God.
“It’s a huge burden,” said John Reeder, chairman of the housing authority committee for the Arlington Green Party. “I myself am trying to spend more time with faith communities to get the churches on board.”
If the housing authority were to pass, the Greens hope to make more affordable housing units available for low-income people, according to Reeder.
“It is recognized in a lot of churches how tough it is for people in lower communities and they recognize how in these tough times we need to do more,” Reeder said.
In 2008, the Virginia General Assembly passed a law that changed the number of signatures required to place a measure on the ballot. Before then only 100 signatures were required. Now a petition must have signatures from 2 percent of the county’s registered voters, or roughly 3,000 people in Arlington.
Before the law was changed in 2008, the Arlington Green Party proposed a similar referendum that failed on the ballot 2 to 1. Two other housing authority referenda also made it on the ballot in 1958 and 1982 and were both defeated. Only 100 signatures were needed on the petition each of those times.
The Greens have almost 650 signatures on the petition for this year, according to Audrey Clement, a member of the party—only 2,350 to go.
“We’re going to need a lot more support from faith groups,” Reeder said. “Faith communities have been very involved in supporting affordable housing programs in Arlington for many decades.”
Reeder said right now he is asking for support from his own faith community, the NOVA Catholic Community.
In 2012 NOVA participated in Affordable Housing Education Week and an action-calling event that requested the county board provide more affordable housing.
However the community has not made a decision to endorse the housing authority referendum.
“We’re a little tiny faith community of about 40 families and we haven’t had any specific discussions about this particular topic of creating a housing authority; we’re not in the mix at the moment,” said Meg Tuccillo, co-chair of the NOVA Catholic Community. “I know there’s a petition and I imagine individual members may well decide to support the referendum…[but] we don’t formally endorse referendums.”