by Jim D. and Jonathan Krall
The Affordable Care Act modified the Internal Revenue Code to require nonprofit hospitals, like Inova, to conduct “a community health needs assessment with an accompanying implementation strategy.” Inova’s 2019 Community Health Needs Assessments (CHNAs) recognized the nexus of health and housing, indicating that housing affordability significantly impacts the health of Northern Virginia communities In each of five reports for Inova’s Northern Virginia hospitals, including Alexandria’s CHNA, “affordable housing” was residents’ most common response to the question: “What would most improve the quality of life for our community?” Conducting studies and producing reports is not enough. Inova must deliver on the required “implementation strategy.” Inova must act. You can help make that happen (see below for requested action).
Growing numbers of hospitals are addressing housing as a health care issue. Kaiser, for example, has established a $200 million fund to reduce homelessness in communities it serves. Inova’s planned investment of a reported $1 billion in a new hospital at the Landmark property is an opportunity to develop an implementation strategy for this element of Inova’s 2019 CHNA.
The Landmark redevelopment plan, including the new Inova hospital, includes a basic affordable housing provision. The developer proposes an “aspirational goal” of “10% of all new residential units at levels affordable to households earning 30 to 80 percent of the area median income (AMI).” City Council recently approved a rezoning of Inova’s current property to enable greater profit from the sale of that property. Instead of hoarding those profits, Inova should “give back” by subsidizing affordable housing at the redeveloped Landmark site, bringing the total up to 15%.
The need for more Affordable Housing in Alexandria is well documented. It is specifically needed at the Landmark site where workforce housing is needed to support the planned hospital, medical office building, fire station, restaurants and retail. With workforce housing (60% AMI) on site, traffic impacts will be reduced.
Landmark is in the west end, where market rate affordable housing is being lost and, further, the site will include a transit hub with multiple high-frequency all-day bus routes. Co-locating affordable housing at transit hubs, especially working class (40% AMI) housing, is a proven measure to address affordable living needs.
For these three reasons, we ask that Inova work with the developer and the City to achieve an aspirational goal of 15% of all new residential units at levels affordable to households earning 30 to 60 percent of the area median income (AMI).
If you agree that Inova should do more to address the affordable housing as part of Landmark site redevelopment, please contact City Council: https://alex311.alexandriava.gov/customer/request/CTYCNCL/details