Movable Houses For Affordable Housing

Movable Houses For Affordable Housing

Mount Vernon District Supervisor Gerald Hyland has brought forth an unusual proposal as one potential answer to the ever-increasing affordable housing problem plaguing Northern Virginia.

During the April 3 Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Meeting, Hyland stated, "As McMansions pop up all over Fairfax County, smaller homes are demolished to make way for larger ones, the vast majority of which is done "by right." Instead of tearing down perfectly usable units, a homeowner could donate their home to a non-profit organization saving them the cost of demolition and disposal."

The home could then be relocated by the non-profit organization to another appropriate lot and retrofitted with the necessary utilities. "The non-profit would pay for the homes appraisal and the homeowner pays the relocation fee with a tax deduction for a charitable donation," he said.

"In the end, the homeowners are only paying what they are saving while providing a community service. These homes could then be sold as affordable units as land becomes available," Hyland said.

This idea was put forth in an article in "Fine Homebuilding," according to Hyland. He moved that the Board of Supervisors direct the County Executive to review the article and report back to the Board with his recommendations.

The replacement of smaller, older home with new, larger ones is something with which Hyland has first hand knowledge. Hollin Hall Village, in his district, is particularly vulnerable to this phenomenon.

Many homes in that area were built over two property lines. However, in a variety of cases the two lots were never subdivided back together making the sites very attractive to potential developers.

Recently there have been several instances of the older homes being sold, demolished and replaced with two new homes on the individual lots. This has raised concerns by other residents and the Mount Vernon Council of Citizens' Association fearful of the practice changing the character of the area.

Hyland recently introduced a proposed amendment to the Fairfax County Zoning Ordinance that would effectively stop the practice of replacing one home with two. If adopted it would, theoretically, remove the appeal to a potential developer because it would, in effect, remove the center property line. That would leave only one lot suitable for one home.