As Prince William continues to grow and thrive, the accompanying rise in housing costs can be a serious challenge for many. Currently, there are more than 8,400 families waiting for affordable housing assistance, and rising rents mean that many others also face housing insecurity. The median average rent in Prince William is $1,400 to $1,800.
Although the county recognizes this problem, and our Comprehensive Plan encourages “housing at all prices ranges, for all segments of the population,” our Strategic Plan does not contain a single reference to affordable housing. Supervisor Principi has gone record that this must change, and is calling for substantial policy changes to tackle this problem head on.
Housing insecurity impacts financial, physical and emotional wellbeing for the affected individuals, and has ripple effects throughout Prince William. For instance, a lack of affordable housing can push public servants, including our teachers, police and firefighters, to seek housing far from work. This can slow response times for emergency personnel, and is a missed opportunity for fostering stronger community ties.
Having a mix of housing in a range of prices also helps attract and retain the workforce sought after by employers. This in turn grows the local economy and can reduce the traffic congestion, frustration and environmental impact of long commutes. Additionally, addressing affordable housing would go a long way to mitigating the overcrowding problem in Woodbridge, which burdens our schools and neighborhood services.
Several nonprofits and faith groups, such as Good Shepherd Housing and HUGS, are taking the lead on addressing this issue. Supervisor Principi has been working with several of these groups and will continue to urge the County to do more to support these efforts, exploring policies that make housing accessible to all in our community.