Audrey Clement is the Green Party candidate for the Arlington County Board. This interview took place at Cosi in Ballston during the week of March 12. The interview was recorded.
The answers shown here are edited for clarity and brevity. The answers are quoted verbatim with "ahs" and "ums" taken out. If something more substantive was removed, we indicated that with an elipsis (…). A pause or sudden change of direction is indicated with a double hyphen (--); double hyphens do not indicate omitted words. If we inserted something for clarity we used square brackets [like these]. --Editor
AM: In the survey you completed from the Alliance for Housing Solutions, you brought up the idea for a regional housing authority. I’d like you to talk more about that.
AC: Well, first I just want to preface my remarks by saying that the county board itself acknowledges that there’s a housing crisis in the county. And that...the primary statistic that’s quoted is the fact that two-thirds of affordable market rate housing has disappeared in the county...in the last 10 years. The county talks a good talk, but it doesn’t walk a good walk on this issue.
In 2008, the Arlington Green Party put on the ballot a referendum for the citizens to vote on a housing authority. That’s one vehicle by which a housing authority can be created in a jurisdiction under Virginia law, and we got 30 percent of the vote. Now that was a very high percentage of the vote....
So we realized that there really was a lot latent interest in such a housing authority that would consolidate housing programs under one umbrella and leverage more money for...affordable housing.
One of the other things it would do is make the county eligible for federal HUD money that it is currently not eligible for...So the next year what we tried to do was put the referendum on the ballot again thinking that we would create even more support.
What happened then is the county board had Del. Bob Brink [D-48] sponsor legislation in the Virginia general assembly that would dramatically increase the number of signatures required for such a referendum from 100 to 2 percent of the eligible voters in the jurisdiction which in this case would have been 3,000. So they effectively made it impossible to sponsor a referendum.
AM: Is that something you would try to do again since you’d have the bully pulpit?