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AHC Partners With Community to Open Little Free Library

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(October 27, 2015) – Arlington’s newest Little Free Library opened today at 1723 North Veitch Street. The new mini library, which offers free books to share from a free-standing wooden box, is the result of a collaboration between a community member and a local nonprofit affordable housing organization, AHC Inc.

“Colonial Village West has been a great neighbor. I thought a Little Free Library would be a great way to continue to build our community while supporting literacy and love of books,” explains Lynn Borton, the library’s steward and founder. “We are hoping to engage students attending Key, Arlington Science Focus School, as well as middle and high schoolers, Lyon Village residents, families living in AHC’s Colonial Village West apartments and the many passersby on our busy street. It’s already brought wonderful connectivity – everyone is taking part. The school crossing guard has been handing out fliers and stickers and someone put some donated books in the library even before we opened!”

The neighborhood-sponsored, curbside libraries encourage community members to “take a book, return a book.” Contributions can be any kind of book — from children’s books to cookbooks to novels.

“We are delighted to partner with Lynn Borton to share the joy of reading,” said Jennifer Endo, AHC’s Director of Resident Services. “Literacy is one of the top goals of our education program and we love the idea of encouraging community members to find a book and then leave another one for someone else to enjoy.”

Little Free Libraries started in 2009 in Wisconsin when Todd Bol built a small model of a one-room schoolhouse as a tribute to his mother, a former school teacher who loved reading. He filled it with books and put it on a post in his front yard. Today, there are more than 32,000 Little Free Library book exchanges around the world, bringing curbside literacy home and sharing more than one million books annually.

In the last several years, at least 20 Little Free Libraries have popped up around Arlington. Although many have been installed by individuals in their front yards, several have also been created as Girl Scout projects or school-based programs.

For more information on starting your own Little Free Library, contact the Arlington Public Library, which provides kits, instructions and registration materials.

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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 6,500 apartment units in 50 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 Inc. Presents $2.5 Million Loan Repayment to Arlington County

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(September 10, 2015 – Arlington, VA) – AHC Inc., a not-for-profit affordable housing developer, yesterday presented Arlington County with a $2.5 million loan repayment – one of the organization’s largest lump sum payments.  Since the 1980s, Arlington County’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund (AHIF) has loaned funds to developers like AHC to help acquire, build or rehabilitate numerous affordable apartment communities for low- and moderate-income Arlington residents.

Arlington’s loan fund has helped AHC develop more than 3,000 affordable apartments for Arlington residents. AHC repays the County each year from its affordable properties. To date, AHC has repaid more than $38 million to Arlington County, including interest.

“AHC is proud to have partnered with Arlington County for nearly three decades. The County’s revolving loan fund (Affordable Housing Investment Fund) has been a critical factor in helping us bring to fruition thousands of affordable homes for hard working Arlington families,” said AHC President and CEO Walter D. Webdale. “For every dollar we borrow from Arlington County, we are able to leverage $3 in private funds, which is a huge help in today’s competitive marketplace.”

“Arlington’s long-time commitment to affordable housing is one of the things that makes our community so vibrant today,” said Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes. “One of the tools that has worked well over the years is our Affordable Housing Investment Fund (AHIF). Made up of local and federal dollars – only 25 cents of every dollar we loan is Arlington taxpayer generated – the revolving fund is also supported by loan repayments and other developer contributions, which keeps the fund viable.”

AHC’s $2.5 million repayment is the result of a complex strategy begun earlier this year to consolidate ownership of Fort Henry Gardens, a garden-style property with 82 apartments (65 two-bedroom and 17 three-bedroom apartments).

AHC partnered with another organization to acquire and renovate the property in 1996 and 1997. AHC is now the 100% owner of the property after purchasing the ownership interests from our co-general partner and the tax credit investor limited partner earlier this year. Along with paying down the loans from Arlington County, the consolidation also enabled AHC to pay off a loan from Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA) and set aside funds for needed capital improvements.

Fort Henry’s community center provides extensive Resident Services activities, including AHC’s After-School, Teen Tutoring and Summer Camp programs.

 Photo Caption: Not-for-profit affordable housing developer AHC Inc. presented Arlington County with a $2.5 million loan repayment. Arlington County loans funds through its Affordable Housing Investment Fund (AHIF) to developers like AHC to produce affordable housing. AHC repays Arlington County each year. To date, AHC has repaid Arlington County $38 million. From left to right: Arlington County Housing Division Finance and Budget Specialist Anne Venezia, AHC President and CEO Walter D. Webdale, County Board Chair Mary Hynes, Acting County Manager Mark Schwartz, County Board Vice Chair J. Walter Tejada, Housing Director David Cristeal and AHC Multifamily Division Director Alan Goldstein.

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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 6,500 apartment units in 50 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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Honoring Volunteers of the Year

volunteer-of-the-year-honoreesAHC is deeply grateful to the volunteers who make such a difference to our students. This fall we celebrated our Volunteers of the Year and honored one individual (or group) from each of our primary groups of volunteers – After-School, Teen Tutoring and Student Volunteers.

“AHC is so fortunate to have hundreds of wonderful volunteers who work one-on-one with students who benefit greatly from their close attention and encouragement,” said Jennifer Endo, AHC’s Director of Resident Services. “Each of our Volunteers of the Year have gone above and beyond. Their commitment and enthusiasm is inspiring and has made such a difference to students’ overall success.”

AHC’s 2015 honorees are:

After-School Volunteer: Marilyn Jenkinson

Marilyn Jenkinson volunteered at Woodbury Park/Frederick community center and added a special spark to the curriculum by sharing her personal interests. An avid traveler, she brought students treasures from her trips like Florida oranges, and created her own lesson plan to teach students how to read maps. She developed a scavenger hunt and taught the students how to use rulers to find their schools and other local landmarks.  She thoroughly enjoyed the students’ enthusiasm and said she “wished every child in Arlington could have the opportunity to experience an after-school program like AHC’s.”

Student Volunteer: Talia Farrell-Rosen

Talia Farrell-Rosen, a high school senior, volunteered weekly at Gates of Ballston during the school year, helping with activities and homework. “Talia was consistently patient and understanding and has been a wonderful addition to our volunteering team,” said Lotus Chen, AHC Resident Services Manager. Talia also shared a distinctive skill with the students – dancing. As a competitive dancer, she taught the children about different types of dance, the types of shoes and costumes they wear, as well as stretches and dances. She also gave them the opportunity to free-dance to pop music, which they loved.

Teen Tutoring Volunteers: Team Estephani – Anne Blacksten, Jim and Terry Burridge and Carl Dohrman

Estephani Santander graduated from high school last spring with multiple scholarships and credits her “dream team” of tutors for much of her success. Estephani’s group of dedicated tutors includes Anne Blacksten, who has worked with Estephani since 6th grade; Jim and Terry Burridge, who tutored and mentored Estephani throughout her high school career; and Carl Dohrman, the math guru of the group. The tutors in “Team Estephani” worked together to build consistency and maximize their support for Estephani. “I think the students benefit a lot from so much one-on-one assistance from caring, high-quality tutors,” says Mr. Dohrman. The consistency helps to build relationships between volunteers and students, which can be key to making a difference in the student’s attitudes towards school.”

Photo caption: From left to right: Patti Sanner, AHC Reading Specialist; Talia Farrell-Rosen, volunteer; Terry Burridge, volunteer; Carl Dohrman, volunteer; Jim Burridge, volunteer; Becky Koons, AHC Resident Services Manager; Anne Blacksten, volunteer; Elizabeth Bonner, former AHC Resident Services Manager; and Marilyn Jenkinson, volunteer.   

 

 

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Banner Year for AHC Students

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(August 15, 2015 – Arlington, VA) – AHC students had a banner year in all three of our education programs –  Teen Tutoring, After-School for elementary students and Summer Camp.

In the Teen Tutoring program, all nine of the seniors  graduated from high school and, impressively, they are all planning to go to college. Together, they earned nearly $50,000 in scholarships and grants. This marks the seventh year in a row that all of the seniors in AHC’s Teen Program successfully graduated from high school. To date, AHC has helped nearly 70 teens graduate from high school.

Many achieved this milestone while holding down jobs, overseeing younger siblings, or becoming proficient in English, a language not always spoken at home. Their hopes and dreams are impressive. Students’ goals include studying forensic science, engineering, behavioral science, medicine, and teaching. “We are so proud of all of teens,” said Jennifer Endo, AHC’s Director of Resident Services. “It really does take a village; and our village of wonderful volunteers, mentors, staff and teachers have all played a part in helping these young people reach their potential.”

The Teen Program is designed to help middle and high school students stay in school and maximize their options after high school. The program includes one-on-one tutoring, mentoring, college visits, SAT test prep, help with scholarship and financial aid applications, and a variety of enriching experiences. Sixty-four youth participated in the Teen Program during the 2014/2015 school year.

AHC’s After-School Program, which focuses on building elementary students’ literacy skills, included 115 youth in 2014/2015. Students made impressive strides. Nearly all (96%) of the students who were assessed at the beginning and end of the year improved their reading level by at least one full grade and/or are reading at or above grade level.

To help ensure struggling readers don’t get left behind, AHC employs two reading specialists to work one-on-one for 30 minutes each week with students who are not reading at grade level. The individualized program  includes games and activities that build fluency and comprehension. The personalized approach has been a real success. This year, our specialists worked with 28 struggling readers. Thanks to their help, all of the students made at least a year’s worth of progress, and six children advanced more than a year.

Students in AHC’s Summer Camp program also made strides. Research shows that low-income students can lose more than two months of reading and math skills during the summer. AHC’s Summer Camp, which combines learning and fun, aims to prevent that learning loss. The six-week program is making a difference.

During the 2014 camp, 92% of the students tested showed no loss or some gain in reading levels and 83% maintained math skills. This year’s theme, Careers in the Arts, combines technology and performance opportunities with creative activities, lots of learning  and cultural experiences like field trips.

Along with students’ hard work, our hundreds of volunteers are integral to the program’s success. We are grateful to the many volunteers and more than 30 community partners who generously give their time and effort. Last year, 266 volunteers worked 4,537 hours with our students!

Two long-time tutors are making a particularly generous impact on our students. In 2013, Joanna Miller and Roger Brown started a four-year scholarship exclusively for AHC Teen Tutoring participants. This year’s scholarship was awarded to Estefani Santander. The Wakefield graduate, who has been in AHC’s education program for 10 years, hopes to attend Northern Virginia Community College to study education. For more information on how to contribute to the Joy Rambert AHC Inc. scholarship to benefit our hard-working graduates, visit the Arlington Community Foundation website.

For more details on AHC’s education programs and student activities, click here for the Resident Services 2014-2015 Report Card.

Photo left to right: Angel Lara, center, with AHC staff members Elizabeth Bonner (left) and Triny Lemus (right) has been in AHC’s education programs since 3rd grade. Angel graduated in 2015 and is planning to attend Northern Virginia Community College to study Photography and Forensic Science. 

HAND Honors Walter D. Webdale with Lifetime Achievement Award

HAND Honors Walter D. Webdale with Lifetime Achievement Award

Walter Webdale

June 23, 2015 – Arlington, VA) – The Housing Association of Nonprofit Developers (HAND) today presented AHC Inc.’s President and CEO Walter D. Webdale with the prestigious President’s Choice Award, which honors lifetime achievement in the affordable housing industry. The award was announced during HAND’s Annual Meeting that gathered together more than 1,000 affordable housing professionals and advocates from the Washington, DC, metro region.

Mr. Webdale has been in the affordable housing business for more than 50 years. He was just 22 when he and his brother, with capital borrowed from their grandmother, purchased and redeveloped an old stone barn into three townhouses in western New York. A few years later he landed his first housing job when he was named Director of Urban Renewal and Director of the Housing Authority in Batavia, NY.  A pioneer in the field of urban renewal, Mr. Webdale directed the redevelopment of the Glen Cove, NY business district as well as the revitalization of the Hudson riverfront in Yonkers, NY.  In 1971, he joined the New York State Urban Development Corporation as Director of Projects for the Westchester County Office.

In 1974, Mr. Webdale moved his young family to Reston, Virginia where he became the first director of the Fairfax County Department of Housing and Community Development, a position he held until 1999. During his tenure, the agency won national recognition as a leader and innovator in affordable housing, earning more than 40 awards for project design, community development, property management and affordable housing finance.

He became President and CEO of AHC Inc. in 1999. Under his leadership, AHC has more than quadrupled its multifamily housing portfolio from 1,600 units at 13 properties in 1999 to more than 6,500 units at 50 properties today.  In 2001, Mr. Webdale developed AHC’s first multifamily property outside of Arlington.  Today, AHC has 22 multifamily properties outside of Arlington, including eight in the Baltimore area and six in Montgomery County.  During his tenure, AHC opened an office in Baltimore, established its own property management company, and more than doubled the Resident Services community outreach programs.

Prior to joining AHC, Mr. Webdale was Director of the Fairfax County Department of Housing and Community Development for 25 years.  During his tenure, the agency won national recognition as a leader and innovator in affordable housing, earning more than 40 awards for project design, community development, property management and affordable housing finance.

“Walter has been a true and long-standing supporter of our organization and our cause,” said Michelle Krocker, Executive Director, Northern Virginia Affordable Housing Alliance. “His well-regarded leadership and support for affordable housing have made a lasting impact on housing opportunities for low- and-moderate income families throughout Northern Virginia.”

Mr. Webdale is a past board member of the National Housing Conference, a past president and past board member of the National Association of Local Housing Finance Agencies (NALHFA) and the National Association of County, Community and Economic Development Associations (NACCED). He also served on the Editorial Advisory Board of the Housing and Development Reporter.

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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 6,500 apartment units in 50 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.