Fairfax County, VA

Fairfax disabled given priority for accessible housing

April 14, 2002
With more than 3,000 names of disabled people on waiting lists to buy or rent affordable homes, Fairfax County has created a priority system that favors these applicants and is encouraging developers to build more low-cost units with features for the disabled.
     The priority system, a first in the Washington region, took effect last month when the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority changed how it allocates "affordable dwelling units," or ADUs.
     For many disabled people, finding a place to live is "the first hurdle to being a contributing member of society," she said. 

Va. legislator withdraws bill on sleeping rooms

January 30, 2001
Virginia Sen. Leslie L. Byrne withdrew a bill yesterday that would have allowed Fairfax County to bar its residents from turning their living and dining rooms into sleeping quarters, after the measure provoked alarm among county leaders, fair housing groups and advocates for immigrants.
     The Fairfax Democrat said her bill had been misconstrued and would have been defeated. Her solution to what she called a massive crowding problem in the affluent county generated intense media interest around the world. Byrne received calls from as far away as London. Charles Osgood mentioned the bill on his morning radio program on CBS. National fair housing groups assailed it as discrimination against immigrants and dispatched letters and e-mail messages to Byrne over the weekend urging her withdraw it.
     "When I got a call from a man who said he couldn't nap in his Barka lounger, I knew that reality had bit the dust," Byrne said yesterday. She announced to the Senate that she was pulling the measure and said it had been "misreported and misrepresented to the public" by The Washington Post and other news organizations.
     But Byrne said the county is nonetheless plagued by the problem the bill was meant to address: crowded homes in once-quiet neighborhoods that now have many immigrants and college students. She said communities from Annandale to Herndon are turning into "instant slums."
     "People live in a great neighborhood, and the next day, 14 unrelated people move in, with inadequate bathroom facilities," Byrne said. 

Two neighborhoods feud over future of street

July 20, 1998
There's much that separates the single-family homes of Mount Vernon Woods in southeast Fairfax County from the sprawling Sequoyah condominium complex -- an elementary school, a park and some tall fences with barbed wire.
     They also are separated by race and economics. Mount Vernon Woods is a mostly white, largely middle-class neighborhood of modest ramblers.
Many of those who own two-story condominiums in Sequoyah are black or Hispanic, and some residents are renters who receive federal housing assistance.
     The only physical connection between them is Fielding Street. Now, that link may be cut.
     Longtime residents of Mount Vernon Woods have persuaded officials to barricade the road, saying that blocking through traffic will reduce crime in their neighborhood. But the plan has brought charges of racism from some in Sequoyah. 
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