Missing middle housing debate continues in Arlington, Montgomery County

Communities across the D.C. region are facing a crisis in affordable housing, and Arlington residents have an opportunity to learn more about a housing proposal that could go into effect next year.

It's called missing middle housing, and it refers to a plan that would convert the land use rules, a.k.a. zoning rules, to allow any home sitting on land that is zoned for single families to allow smaller types of multifamily housing such as duplexes, triplexes and even up to 8-plexes.

Arlington's missing middle coordinator has delayed scheduling final zoning text amendments in order to receive more feedback from community members.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Possible zoning changes stirring up 'missing middle' debate in Arlington County

Residents are divided on the issue. Opponents presented a petition to the county board on Saturday.

"All of us in Arlington want housing that is affordable and that increases diversity," said Arlington resident Barbara Taylor. "But the missing middle plan will actually undercut those goals. Too many Arlingtonians, even with all of the information, think the middle in missing middle means middle income or middle class. It's actually the opposite."

Arlington isn't the only local community tackling the issue of not enough affordable housing. Montgomery County is also trying to meet increasing demand.

The incoming county council set to start in December will be in the driver's seat on housing policy. They will set the agenda for conversations about housing including a missing middle for Montgomery County.

"We're also talking about those in Montgomery County so that we could help meet the demand for housing," says Jane Lyons, a volunteer with Coalition for Smarter Growth. "Especially in places that are land constrained where there's not too much room to build more housing. So you know building four homes on one lot instead of one home on one lot would help us to house more people. So that's part of the conversation that's very alive in Montgomery County as well."

Lyons emphasized that this issue is not just in Virginia and Maryland, but exists across the country. She works with similar groups in D.C., Maryland and Virginia to discuss strategies for affordable housing because she says they're all in this fight together.

A planning committee meeting on missing middle housing will take place Monday night at 7 p.m. in Arlington.