Recently, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a plan to help end homelessness that would include more government housing. The plan will cost over $10 million next year.
This plan comes in the wake of a massive deficit that the local government is running. Fairfax County Public Schools, which make up over half the budget, are facing a $200 million shortfall for 2011. Fairfax Chairman Sharon Bulova estimates that the county will face an overall deficit of $316 million. School Superintendent Jack Dale has asked the Board for an additional $81.9 million to help alleviate the loss of funding for certain programs and administrative positions.
Adding millions to an already bloated deficit is certainly risky business during a recession. There are also fundamental issues regarding the role of government. Mike Thompson of the Thomas Jefferson Institute, a local independent public policy foundation, told the Fairfax County Conservative Examiner, “The core purpose of government does not include getting into the housing business.”
Thompson also said, “Last year, Supervisor Pat Herrity showed the county government was one of the, if not THE, largest landlord in the county. That only shows why government spending in out of control.”
The Thomas Jefferson Institute recently released a detailed analysis of the Fairfax budgetary woes for the ninth year in a row.
Supervisor Herrity (R-Springfield) chimed in on the current housing plan as well. “This is exactly the wrong time to create an unsustainable new program that will only exacerbate our budget crisis,” he said. “I do applaud the new housing plan’s shift in emphasis from preservation and purchasing real estate to focusing housing resources on those with the greatest need and also more partnering with the non-profit community to provide creative affordable solutions. The blueprint, however, came with a price tag of up to $10.1 million in additional county funding for FY 2011. And the price will only increase after this year.”
“The new plan also creates a permanent welfare class with recurring rental subsidies, Herrity further explained. “The program goes well beyond helping people get back on their feet and people that cannot help themselves.”
Of course, not everyone is against this proposal. Supervisor John Cook (R-Braddock) felt that this plan was a step in the right direction, “This policy is a vast improvement over what the policy of this Board was a year ago,” he said. “It is important we address the issues of those most in need and who are unable to be self-sufficient.”
Also, the Washington Post today reported that in an 8-2 vote the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors have decided to spend an additional $593,000 on housing for low-income families. The money will be used to pay off mortgages of the developments Sunrise I and Sunrise II. The county is using money saved by refinancing tax-exempt bonds which they claim will lead to an excess of $3 million.
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