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Innovative Financing Strategies

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Financing and developing affordable housing is challenging – especially in dense urban areas like the Washington, DC, metro region. To become more nimble in today’s competitive market, AHC Inc’s multifamily development team is creating innovative financing strategies that go beyond traditional affordable housing tools.

In Arlington, VA, AHC partnered with such organizations as Freddie Mac, Arlington County and the Low-Income Investment Fund (LIIF) to create financing structures that did not rely on the traditional affordable housing tools of Low Income Housing Tax Credits or tax-exempt bonds. The strategy helped AHC move quickly in a competitive marketplace to successfully preserve two mixed-income properties, The Serrano and The Spectrum, with a total of 380 units near the gentrifying Columbia Pike area.

And, in another non-traditional partnership, AHC joined with Housing Partnership Equity Trust (HPET), a social purpose real estate investment trust (REIT), to acquire Woodleaf, a 228-unit apartment community in Silver Spring, MD — the first such partnership in the DC region. HPET is the first affordable housing REIT created and managed by nonprofits; AHC is one of 12 nonprofit housing developers in the collaborative.

AHC also made full use of existing affordable housing tools by pulling together funding from a variety of sources. For instance, AHC combined Low Income Tax Credits, tax-exempt bonds and Historic Tax Credits to finance the $110 million renovation of Woodbury Park, a 1940s historic garden-style community with 364 mixed-income apartments in Arlington, VA. The extensive financing package did not require local housing funds from Arlington County’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund (AHIF).

Photo: Woodleaf in Silver Spring was the first acquisition by a social purpose real estate trust in the DC region.

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Tutor’s Dedication + Student’s Determination = Success

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Israel Weldeslassie only began speaking English about a year ago when he moved to Arlington from Eritrea. Despite having to learn a new language and reading at about a first grade level, the 7th grader is making amazing progress and is enthusiastically optimistic about his new life.  Much of his success is due to his AHC tutor, Steven Rentz.

The pair has formed a fast friendship. Steven works with Israel twice a week through AHC’s Teen Tutoring program and then meets with him for another two hours on Saturday.  “Steven is making a huge difference to Israel’s progress,” said Julie Korona, AHC’s Resident Services Manager. “He is outstanding!”

“Volunteering is in my blood,” explained Steven, an instructional technology specialist at the National Cathedral School. “I chose AHC’s program because it’s small and everyone can interact and get involved. I really like the opportunity to work one on one.”

Israel is catching on quickly. He is gobbling up books like Curious George and clearly enjoys the nuances of the English language. He has big ambitions and would like to be an engineer and build houses when he grows up. His determination along with Steven’s dedication will undoubtedly help make that dream come true.

 Photo: Israel and his tutor Steven Rentz have formed a fast friendship.

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Volunteers Create Scholarship for AHC Students

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Long-time (11 years!) volunteers Joanna Miller and Roger Brown have created a scholarship exclusively for AHC students in 2014. They presented the first-ever merit scholarship  to Sivia Campos, who has participated in AHC’s education programs since 2nd grade. Sivia is now attending the University of Mary Washington.

The scholarship fund, which is managed by the Arlington Community Foundation, provides $2,000 a year for four years to a student in AHC’s educational program. “We felt like we wanted to do something else to help the students as they reach this milestone and move on to the next stage of their lives,” said Miller.

Brown and Miller hope others will contribute to the fund to provide additional scholarships in the years ahead. For more information, contact the Arlington Community Foundation at 703-243-4785.

Photo: Joanna Miller and Roger Brown presented the first-ever AHC Inc. scholarship to Sivia Campos, who has participated in AHC’s programs since 2nd grade. 

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Affordable Housing for an Aging America

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Every day, 10,000 Baby Boomers turn sixty five years old.  In Arlington, one in five residents will be 60 or older by 2020.  As the number of senior citizens grows, affordable living opportunities for older Americans are becoming an increasing need.

AHC currently operates three apartment communities for senior citizens. All provide programs and staff to help residents age in place successfully.

 Hunter’s Park, in Arlington’s Cherrydale neighborhood, opened in 2005 with 74 one-bedroom apartments. The property includes welcoming common areas, including a living room with fireplace, library and rooftop patio. Activities abound, including exercise classes, book club, gardening workshops and special birthday celebrations. The vibrant environment helps keep seniors active and engaged.

MonteVerde Apartments, in Baltimore, serves 301 senior citizens and physically disabled individuals. AHC purchased and completely renovated the property in 2008. Today, AHC’s Resident Services staff help connect residents with the local services they need to live independently and improve their quality of life.  The property provides a shuttle service to local retailers, a library, arts and crafts room and game room lounges, nutrition and wellness programs.

 Charter House, in Silver Spring, MD, has 212 apartments for individuals aged 55 and older. Located near the Silver Spring Metro station, the 14-story building is within walking distance of lots of shops and activities. AHC assumed management responsibilities in mid-2014 and is working on building stimulating programs and activities with such partners as the Fenwick Foundation, which provides a wide variety of social programs and field trips for AHC’s senior citizens at other properties.

 Photo: AHC operates three communities for aging Americans.

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Summer Camp Keeps Children Active and Engaged

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It’s hard to say who has more fun during AHC’s six-week Summer Camp – the staff or the children.

AHC Resident Services staff are hard at work getting ready for this year’s Summer Camp. The theme is going to revolve around the arts, which will encourage lots of creativity and fun along with plenty of opportunities for engaging educational activities – the secret to AHC’s Summer Camp success.

Last year’s theme was Outdoor Exploration and the staff outdid themselves with wonderful field trips and activities.

The end-of-the-camp event, designed to give students a taste of camping and the outdoors, included a variety of activities that were brand new to most of our kids – like putting together a tent, roasting marshmallows, hiking, and trying to catch a fish.

There was lots of learning going on, too, during Summer Camp. But most of it was designed to be fun so students never felt like they were “in school.” For instance, one activity combined math, bowling and giant dice.

The children’s progress was very positive. Ninety-four percent of campers showed no loss in reading skills and 83 percent showed no loss in math facts. Plus, 100 percent of campers enjoyed learning how to cook and eat s’mores!

Photo: AHC’s Summer Camp makes learning fun