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J. Walter Tejada Honored for Affordable Housing Leadership

Faces of AHC

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Long-time advocacy and support of affordable housing in Arlington

AHC Inc. is honored to welcome the Honorable J. Walter Tejada into its Housing Hall of Fame. “We are proud to present this award to Mr. Tejada  in recognition of his outstanding leadership and public service on behalf of the people of Arlington County and in appreciation for his tireless advocacy to preserve and expand affordable housing for low-income families,” said AHC President and CEO, Walter D. Webdale.

AHC Inc., a nonprofit affordable housing developer based in Arlington, VA, established its Housing Hall of Fame 15 years ago to honor individuals for their vision, dedication and advocacy on behalf of affordable housing. The award was presented as part of AHC Inc.’s 40th Anniversary celebration.

Mr. Tejada served on the Arlington County Board for almost 13 years (2003 to 2015). He has been actively engaged in local issues since moving to Arlington in 1992. He is a strong proponent of affordable housing with a deep commitment to providing decent housing for Arlington’s most vulnerable and economically disadvantaged residents.

His commitment to affordable housing has its roots in personal experience. He and his family moved from El Salvador to Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, New York City when he was 13. He saw his mother struggle to pay the rent while living in a tough neighborhood.

In Arlington, he became involved in community issues through a local chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). Mr. Tejada devoted many hours to building awareness about the Latino community in Arlington and helped start the Community Volunteer Network and the Shirlington Employment and Education Center.

He served on several citizen advisory groups, including the Fiscal Affairs Advisory Commission, the Affordable Housing Task Force, the Sports Commission, and the Neighborhood Day Organizing Committee before being elected to the County Board in 2003. Fighting to prevent the displacement of 3,700 low-income residents in Arna Valley in the 1990s crystallized his commitment to affordable housing.

“In the Latino culture, we don’t want other people to go homeless, we help each other,” explained  Mr. Tejada. “By the time I joined the Arlington County Board, affordable housing had become front and center for me – and it has never stopped being a high priority.”

His commitment has made a significant impact over the years. He helped push for dedicated funding for the Affordable Housing Investment Fund (AHIF), a loan fund that helps bridge the funding gap for affordable housing projects. He was also instrumental in preserving the Buckingham Garden apartments and the successful development of Arlington Mill, which provides affordable housing along with community space on public land.

Other Housing Hall of Fame honorees include: Dr. Leonard L. Hamlin, Sr., Pastor of the Macedonia Baptist Church; Patricia McGrady, decades-long affordable housing activist and volunteer; Rick Nelson, former Director of Montgomery County’s Department of Housing and Community Affairs; and Harkins Builders, long-time AHC business partner and supporter.

Photo:  Virginia leaders celebrate AHC’s Housing Hall of Fame honorees for their dedication, vision and advocacy of affordable housing in Arlington. From left to right:  Virginia State Senator Barbara Favola; Virginia State Senator Adam Ebbin; Dr. Leonard L. Hamlin, Sr., Honoree; Patricia McGrady, Honoree; J. Walter Tejada, Honoree and former Arlington County Board member; Arlington County Board Vice-Chair Jay Fisette; and Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey. 

 

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AHC Inc., City Officials and Partners Break Ground on 93 New Affordable Apartments in Alexandria

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(July 13, 2016 – Arlington, VA) – AHC Inc., a nonprofit affordable housing developer, partners and City of Alexandria officials celebrated the groundbreaking for St. James Plaza, 93 new affordable apartments adjacent to Alexandria’s Beauregard neighborhood.

The project, located on a portion of a three-acre site previously owned by the St. James United Methodist Church and the Bi-District Office of the Northern Virginia Methodist Church, expects to welcome residents in late 2018. The remainder of the site will have a public landscaped mews and 31 new market-rate townhomes.

“AHC Inc. is delighted to partner with the City of Alexandria again to create housing that is affordable for a variety of individuals and incomes, including working families, senior citizens, and young adults just starting out,” explained AHC President and CEO, Walter D. Webdale.

St. James Plaza will include a mix of efficiencies, one-, two-, and three-bedroom homes. Amenities will include underground parking and a community space where a full day pre-kindergarten program will be offered by the Campagna Center for residents’ children as well as children from the neighborhood. Rents will be affordable to households with incomes ranging from 40% to 60% of the Area Median.

“The St. James Plaza project will provide a valuable affordable housing resource – including deeply subsidized apartments – for Alexandria residents,” said Alexandria Mayor Allison Silberberg. “We are particularly pleased to be working with AHC to create long-term committed affordable units for households in the Beauregard Plan area who may be displaced by future redevelopment.  These units will be affordable for at least 60 years.”

In addition to the City of Alexandria, which is providing a loan of $5.7 million to AHC for the project, St. James Plaza partners include Capital One Bank, Hudson Housing Capital, and NeighborWorks of America.

Demolition of the existing buildings is scheduled to begin in the next couple of weeks, with construction of St. James Plaza to start later this year. Designed by Cunningham-Quill Architects, St. James is being built by Harkins Builders.


Photo caption:  City of Alexandria officials, including Mayor Allison Silberberg and City Council members; along with project partners Capital One Bank, Hudson Housing Capital, and NeighborWorks America helped nonprofit developer AHC Inc. break ground at St. James Plaza, 93 new affordable apartments in Alexandria, VA.

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Founded in 1975, AHC Inc. is a nonprofit developer of affordable housing in the mid-Atlantic region that provides quality homes and education programs for low- and moderate-income families. Based in Arlington, VA, AHC has developed more than 7,000 apartment units in 52 properties in Virginia and Maryland. AHC’s Resident Services program reaches 2,000 children, teens, adults and seniors each year through onsite education programs and activities.

 

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AHC and Montgomery County Work Together to Provide Homes for the Formerly Homeless

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Along with developing affordable rental communities, AHC Inc. also works with local communities on initiatives that help provide housing for people struggling with severely challenging issues – homelessness, abuse, or disabilities.  These activities include providing permanent supportive housing units at many of our communities in Arlington and including ADA-accessible apartments when constructing or redeveloping a community.

Recently, AHC worked with Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless (MCCH) and its affiliate affordable housing developer Coalition Homes (CH) to respond to the growing need for homes for individuals transitioning out of homelessness.

The partnership had its roots in a 2009 transaction that enabled AHC, in conjunction with Montgomery County’s Department of Housing and Community Affairs, to purchase six, two-bedroom condominium units in Gateway Commons in Clarksburg, MD. The acquisition preserved the town house units as moderately priced rentals for households earning up to 55% of the area median income.

Earlier this year, MCCH obtained a significant number of housing subsidy vouchers and needed to expand its rental housing portfolio to accommodate the additional households. The organization reached out to AHC to see if they could work out an agreement to purchase the six town house apartments, and with strong support from Montgomery County, an agreement was reached that enabled CH to acquire the homes at a modest price, while also allowing AHC to recoup its investment. A win-win partnership for all.


Photo caption:  AHC Inc. partnered with Montgomery County’s Department of Housing and Community Affairs, to preserve six, two-bedroom condominium units as affordable homes in Gateway Commons in Clarksburg, MD. 

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Founded in 1975, AHC Inc. is a nonprofit developer of affordable housing in the mid-Atlantic region that provides quality homes and education programs for low- and moderate-income families. Based in Arlington, VA, AHC has developed more than 7,000 apartment units in 52 properties in Virginia and Maryland. AHC’s Resident Services program reaches 2,000 children, teens, adults and seniors each year through onsite education programs and activities.

 

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Three Generations Living in Alexandria Neighborhood

AHC Faces

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Affordable Housing Helps Family Maintain Neighborhood Roots

Rosa Byrd has lived in Alexandria’s Lynhaven neighborhood for more than 50 years. Many of her family live nearby, including her 25-year-old granddaughter, Chanel Yancey, who recently moved into AHC’s Jackson Crossing apartment community. “I like the convenient location and it’s nice to be close to family,” says Chanel, who works for the Alexandria City Public Schools.

Chanel’s mother, Patricia Yancey, grew up in the neighborhood and attended the nearby Cora Kelly Elementary School. Today, she lives a few blocks from her mother, Rosa, and commutes to work with her daughter.  “I love that. I see her every day,” says Patricia. “If she had to live somewhere else, it would have changed the dynamics of our family.”

Rosa believes Jackson Crossing provides much-needed housing options in the neighborhood. “I have a lot of friends who have had to relocate out of Alexandria,” she says. “Their hearts are here, but they have to live outside the community because of the cost of living. This is a great way to help people stay in the city because it’s gotten so expensive. I’m grateful my granddaughter is living here. She was looking for a place where she could live on her own.”

Along with deep roots in Lynhaven, both Rosa and Patricia have served in a wide variety of local leadership roles, including the PTA, civic association and election board. “I honestly believe no matter where you live, you should be part of the community,” says Rosa. In 2012, the mother/daughter team was honored by the Senior Services of Alexandria for their legacy of service. That legacy continues through the third generation; Chanel also serves as an election official like her mother and grandmother.

Rosa’s long-time community involvement has been widely recognized. In 2013, she was named a Living Legend of Alexandria, and Alexandria News honored her as Alexandrian of the Year in 2014.

Rosa, who retired after 30 years with the Alexandria City Public School System, and her husband, Jack, who worked with the Metro Bus System for nearly 40 years, thoroughly enjoy living so close to family in Lynhaven. Together, they have six siblings who live within several blocks. Over the years, more than 20 children in the family have attended Cora Kelly School.

“My family is the crown jewel of my life,” says Byrd. “One of my blessings is that when they grew up, they wanted to come back to live in Alexandria.”

Photo: Three generations of the Byrd family live in Alexandria’s Lynhaven neighborhood. From left to right: Patricia Yancey, Rosa Byrd and Chanel Yancey. 

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Saving the Gates of Ballston

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AHC Milestones

Community Preserves 465 At-Risk Garden Apartments

In 2001, one of Arlington’s largest historic apartment communities, Gates of Ballston, went on the market. Real estate was booming and several commercial developers quickly bid on the property. With 465 garden apartments, the imminent loss of affordable housing would be a blow to the local community. Arlington’s older apartment communities were already under attack. During the previous two years, the County had lost 5,000 units of affordable housing.

Arlington County, AHC and a working group of concerned citizens quickly banded together to try to save the 17-acre property. Their efforts paid off. AHC, with the help of Arlington County, acquired the property in 2002.

Built between 1938 and 1941 as workforce housing for single men and small families, the Gates’ 43 buildings had never been renovated. AHC began a comprehensive revitalization of the property in 2005, carefully preserving the buildings’ historic attributes, including using authentic slate to replace the original roofs and adding new historically accurate windows. The renovation also included new kitchens, bathrooms, and heating/cooling systems. Seventy-two units were also converted into three-bedroom apartments to accommodate larger families. The historic renovation has been recognized by numerous organizations, including the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Today the property is full of families and lively community activities. In 2008, AHC celebrated the opening of a new, two-level, 10,000-square-foot community center. The center is a vibrant gathering space with numerous classrooms, meeting areas, and space for community partners, including Arlington County’s Community Outreach programs.

In 2015, the community center was renamed the Rinker Community Center at the Gates of Ballston to honor Charlie and Lora Rinker, long-time community activists who fought to preserve Arlington’s affordable housing, including Gates of Ballston years earlier.

Photo: AHC’s purchase of the Gates of Ballston preserved one of Arlington’s largest garden-style apartment communities.