Three Ways You Can Help Advocate for Affordable Housing


By Justin Oliver, Chair, AHC Board of Directors

The process of developing and preserving affordable housing is increasingly challenging. Here are a couple of ways you can help and stay involved.

First, on a national level, urge Congress to continue to support legislation that encourages affordable housing development. Two critical tools are Low-income Housing Tax Credits and Historic Tax Credits. Both are proven strategies that help bridge the funding gap and make many of our developments possible.

Second, support local initiatives. For instance, two years ago Arlington passed a much-praised Affordable Housing Master Plan. Its goals include 600 new affordable apartments each year. To date, despite the County’s support, our community has only managed to preserve or build about half that number. Working with the County – and you – we hope to develop more strategies to create more affordable homes for our neighbors.

Third, engage your friends, family, and colleagues in conversation about affordable housing and how it benefits the entire community.   Like most, I support affordable housing through the lens of philanthropy and volunteerism, but you can also support affordable housing for broader economic reasons.

This is what I think of as the business case for affordable housing.  As a business owner, I long ago recognized the need and importance of affordable housing to maintain a diverse and competitive workforce.   Affordable housing provides critical entry points (and re-entry points) for new workers, families, retirees, and others to obtain housing in the communities in which they work at various points in their lives.

Companies large and small depend on this workforce to grow and maintain their business.   The businesses provide the jobs that fuel the economy and support our schools and other services.  In order to retain and attract great companies you need a high quality of life for their workforce.  This includes housing affordability, quality of the schools, access to healthcare and public transportation.

Affordable housing is a critical building block not only for the stability and success of the families we serve, but also for the long-term economic health and prosperity of the community in which we live. I hope you will join me me in making the case for affordable housing to our national representatives, local leaders, and friends and neighbors.





Congressman Don Beyer Tours Affordable Housing Construction Site in Alexandria, VA



September 13, 2017 — United States Representative Don Beyer recently toured the construction site of St. James Plaza, 93 new affordable apartments in Alexandria, VA. Rep. Beyer represents Virginia’s 8th Congressional District of Virginia, which serves Arlington County, the Cities of Alexandria and Falls Church, and portions of Fairfax County.

Developed by AHC Inc., St. James Plaza will also provide an onsite pre-school program in partnership with The Campagna Center. Along with the affordable apartment building, the three-acre site will also include 31 market-rate townhouses.

The City of Alexandria provided a $5.7 million loan for the affordable apartments. AHC Inc. also received $19 million in competitive 9% Low-income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) from the Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA).

“St. James Plaza is a great example of a public/private, tax-credit financed affordable housing development in Alexandria’s West End,” said Representative Beyer. “The mixed-use strategy that combines affordable apartments, market-rate townhouses and onsite education provides much-needed housing options and amenities for the neighborhood.”

St. James Plaza will include a mix of efficiencies, one-two- and three-bedroom apartments. Rents will range from 40% to 60% of the Area Median Income.  The property will also include underground parking, a fitness center, and a community room for residents. The building will meet the highest EarthCraft environmental certification. Families are expected to move into the building in mid-2018.

Photo caption:  Rep. Don Beyer toured the construction site of St. James Plaza in Alexandria, a new project under development by AHC Inc. that will provide 93 affordable apartments and an onsite pre-school in 2018.


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 53 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.



Woodbury Park Grand Re-Opening Celebrates its Historic Heritage


Built in the 1940s, Woodbury Park at Courthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2004. When AHC purchased the property in 1987, the 364-unit property doubled the young organization’s rental portfolio.

Thirty years later, the Colonial Revival apartment community again stands as a testament to Virginia’s rich, historical heritage. A comprehensive two-year renovation has both restored and updated the property’s classic features, which include a mix of red and blonde brick masonry, gabled and flat roofing, and porticoes at the buildings’ entrances.

Exterior improvements include repair and repainting of the seven large brick buildings, and new roofs, casement windows and plantings. Interior renovations include new kitchens, bathrooms, flooring, and electrical systems. In warm months, the freshly re-bricked courtyard, with a water feature and plenty of comfortable benches, will serve as a central gathering place in the nine-acre community.

The renovation also provided an opportunity to turn under-utilized space into two new resident-oriented buildings – a leasing office and a community center with an exercise room and a gathering area with a large TV, game table, and plenty of seating.

Woodbury Park is one of the few affordable garden apartment communities in Arlington within walking distance of the Metro, jobs, shopping, and open green spaces. The tree-filled community, which includes 204 affordable apartments and 160 market-rate units, preserves much-needed, convenient living opportunities for a spectrum of individuals, including working families, senior citizens, and young people just starting careers.

The property also provides an extensive array of onsite programs for residents, including AHC’s year-round Resident Services’ education programs with After-School, Teen Tutoring and Summer Camp opportunities for youth. The apartment community also includes a Montessori school in the adjacent Frederick apartment building. One third of the students in the school are Woodbury/Frederick residents who receive scholarships.

AHC also partners with Arlington County and other nonprofit organizations to provide additional onsite services for Woodbury Park residents, including weekly food distribution through Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) and an office for Arlington’s Community Outreach Program three days a week.

The renovation was funded through a combination of financial tools, including Historic Tax Credits, and did not require use of Arlington’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund.

Project partners include: Burke & Herbert Bank and Trust Company; Capital One, NA; Collins Kronstadt O’Neill and Partners, LLP: Cynthia Ferranto Landscape Design; EHT Traceries; Harkins Builders Inc.; Hudson Housing Capital; and Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA).

Photo caption:  Partners, community members, residents and Arlington County Board members Christian Dorsey and Libby Garvey joined AHC staff to celebrate Woodbury Park’s grand re-opening celebration. Photo: John Dawson, Harkins Builders


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.



Innovative Partnership Creates Developable Land for New Committed Affordable Housing in Alexandria’s Beauregard Neighborhood


An innovative approach to creating affordable housing is bringing 93 new affordable apartments to Alexandria. Now under construction, St. James Plaza expects to welcome residents in late 2018. Working together, the City of Alexandria and nonprofit developer AHC Inc., are successfully transforming three acres previously owned by St. James Methodist Church into a vibrant, mixed-use, mixed-income community with adjoining public green space. The project fulfills the church’s aim to further its social justice mission and helps the City offset the loss of market affordable apartments that will occur when the nearby Beauregard neighborhood redevelops.

AHC got an option to acquire the land in 2013, rezoned it to residential use in 2014, acquired the property and subdivided it and is currently under contract to sell approximately 1.5 acres to Craftmark, a market-rate developer, to create 31 new townhomes that will be adjacent to AHC’s planned multifamily development. AHC will use the townhome land sale to subsidize the cost of the land for the affordable apartment building. The City of Alexandria approved funding for the project in 2014, along with a $5.7 million development loan to partially fund construction of the affordable building.

Leveraging the land assets of faith communities, as occurred with the St. James Plaza development, is a creative response to the challenge of finding developable land in the Washington, D.C. region. “The limited supply of undeveloped land in the Washington DC region, coupled with the high cost of available land, is among the most significant obstacles to developing affordable housing,” explains Walter D. Webdale, AHC Inc. President and CEO. “Working as a team with community groups, local governments and/or market-rate developers to create land for housing is a successful strategy that benefits the whole community.” In recent years, AHC has created developable land in a number of ways, from combining single-family lots to acquiring a gas station adjacent to AHC-owned land.

“As housing affordability is harder to find in our region, the City of Alexandria is glad to make investments that help residents secure quality, affordable apartments,” said Mayor Allison Silberberg. “Partnering with nonprofits, like AHC Inc., reflects our commitment to remaining inclusive and diverse, while creating successfully mixed-income communities as outlined in both the 2012 Beauregard Plan and the 2013 Housing Master Plan.”

St. James Plaza will include a mix of efficiencies, one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartment homes for households with incomes ranging from $43,680 to $65,520 for a family of four.  Amenities will include underground parking and a community space. Plans are underway to partner with the Campagna Center to operate a daycare and pre- kindergarten program on site that will serve residents’ children as well as children from the neighborhood.

In addition to the City of Alexandria, St. James project partners include Capital One Bank, Hudson Housing Capital, and NeighborWorks Capital. Designed by Cunningham-Quill Architects, the five-story building is being constructed by Harkins Builders.


Photo caption:  St. James Plaza will provide 93 new affordable apartments in Alexandria, VA.


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.



Next Phase of Key’s Pointe Under Construction


The second phase of Key’s Pointe, the redevelopment of a massive 1940s public housing community, is now underway. The project, one of the first new developments in  Southeast Baltimore in many years, is bringing a neglected 62-acre site back to life. The multi-phase project will eventually include more than 900 new affordable and market-rate apartments and over six acres of new parks and green space.

The development, a partnership among AHC Greater Baltimore, The Michaels Development Company and the Housing Authority of Baltimore (HABC),  is a suburban/urban hybrid that combines a traditional street grid with close-together homes, sidewalks, alleys and patios. The Green Communities-certified project also provides long-term environmental features, including landscaped micro bio-retention facilities to effectively manage storm water runoffs.

The second phase of the project will include 68 affordable and market-rate residential units, a multi-purpose meeting room and office, as well as green space for residents. Construction is expected to be completed in early 2018.

The funding for the $23.26 million  second phase includes $11 million in tax-exempt bonds issued by the Maryland Department of Housing & Community Development (DHCD); $8.78 million in low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) equity from syndicator Riverside Capital, LLC; a $5.99 million FHA 221(d) 4 loan from Wells Fargo Multifamily Capital; a $7.65 million Rental Housing Factor Funds (RHFF) loan from HABC; and a $493,000 loan from DHCD’s Rental Housing Works (RHW) loan program. Additional sources include deferred developer fee. The combined finance sources equal $34.26 million – $11 million more than the total development cost – due to DHCD’s requirement to collateralize the State-issued tax-exempt bonds.

The first phase of the redevelopment, which included 76 residential units (including 16 units reserved for persons with disabilities), was completed in 2014. Half of the finished homes are deeply affordable using a Project-Based Section 8 contract with 27 reserved for current and former public housing families. The remaining units are available to families earning up to 50% of the Area Median Income.

Photo: Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake joined the Housing Authority of Baltimore City (HABC) Executive Director Paul T. Graziano, The Michaels Development Company, AHC Greater Baltimore, Inc., elected officials, state and federal partners, and members of the community for a ceremonial groundbreaking for the second phase of Key’s Pointe.