Missing Middle Will Gentrify People of Color Out of Arlington County

Comments at Arlington Planning Commission Meeting on March 8, 2023.

I’m Audrey Clement, a 19-year Westover tenant. Martin Luther King is most famous for a speech in which he said: “I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.” The American dream to which King referred is often understood to mean home ownership.

Missing Middle is also about dreams, but not of the home ownership variety, because most of the units will be rental. For developers who will reap double or triple on the lots they flip, Missing Middle is a dream come true. For people of color, Missing Middle is a pipe dream, because according to the County’s own data, most of them cannot afford to buy or rent Missing Middle units.* For whites who can afford Missing Middle units, today’s ignored impacts, such as congestion, lack of parking, overcrowded schools, increased runoff, and decreased tree canopy, will become tomorrow’s neighborhood nightmare.

As for the non-profits pushing Missing Middle, including VOICE, Sierra Club, the faith community and until recently, the NAACP, their leadership is living in a dream world. Either they are willfully ignorant of the County’s own data showing that Missing Middle will be out of reach of most of their constituents, or they are deliberately misleading them. When Missing Middle gears up, whole neighborhoods will be flipped or emptied of low-income residents, most of them seniors or people of color who can’t afford the increased property taxes that Missing Middle will bring.

If Arlington’s so-called progressive community were interested in anything but self-righteous virtue signaling, it would propose housing solutions that work, not one that even Yimbies characterize as supply side, trickle down housing. Like voodoo economics Missing Middle is a bad dream.

*See “Missing Middle Housing Study: Expanding Housing Choice, Phase 2 Analysis and Draft Framework”, May 2, 2022 (p.20, 24)