Even thought Arlington?s Housing Division is a new branch of county government, planning for housing is old hat for Ken Augenbaugh, named the new head of the division last week. ?The adventure continues,? said Augenbaugh, who has spent the last two decades working with housing issues in Arlington.
On Thursday, April 10, the longtime county resident took the reins of the new division with new streamlined management structure and new goals for dealing with the county?s shortage of affordable housing. Augenbaugh will be responsible for designing the structure of the division, which will consolidate the county?s housing initiatives. He will also serve as the county?s official spokesperson on housing issues. Augenbaugh?s division will be part of the Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development.
County Manager Ron Carlee created the division in response to a request last year from then-County Board chair Chris Zimmerman and the late Charles Monroe, then a Board member.
By streamlining the county?s housing programs and planning in one division, under a single head, Zimmerman expects to see greater efficiency. ?It wasn?t anyone?s responsibility before now,? he said, adding that Augenbaugh will be under considerable scrutiny and pressure. ?I think he?s got some big challenges,? said Zimmerman.
Augenbaugh agreed. ?It?s a lot of shoes to fill,? he said. But the county has already begun making progress. ?We?ve really produced more affordable housing in the past year than we ever had before,? he said.
BY PRESERVING the Gates of Arlington, Columbia Heights and Columbia Grove Apartments through public-private partnerships, the county surpassed its goal of providing 360 affordable units last year. ?If Columbia Grove goes through, we?ll have reached 680,? said Augenbaugh.
Walter Webdale, President of AHC, Inc, the largest not-for-profit development company in Arlington, has worked with Augenbaugh on numerous projects over the years. ?He?s a real professional in the housing field,? said Webdale.
County officials chose the right man to head the county?s housing programs, Webdale said. The only mistake was not giving him enough power. Webdale believes housing should be a full department, responsible directly to the County Manager, rather than a division within a department. ?I think up the ladder would have given it even more of a chance of being really really aggressive,? he said.
Augenbaugh says the first step in addressing affordable housing is setting aggressive goals, which he hopes to have approved by the county board by the start of fiscal 2004, at the end of June.