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AHC Renames Gates of Ballston Community Center to Honor the Rinkers

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(June 5, 2015 – Arlington, VA) – AHC Inc. today dedicated the Gates of Ballston Community Center to Charlie and Lora Rinker to honor their 40+ years of working tirelessly for social justice in Arlington. Thanks to their efforts, countless Arlingtonians live in affordable homes and those needing emergency shelter can find a warm bed and decent meal in a clean, safe place.

“After Charlie’s death, AHC decided to honor Charlie and Lora in a more permanent way, and we felt there was no better place to do that than here at The Gates of Ballston,” said AHC President and CEO Walter D. Webdale.  ”Charlie was instrumental in saving this beautiful 17-acre property from redevelopment so that it could remain affordable to young singles, families with children, and retirees.  He devoted his life to advocating for affordable housing for low-income families and individuals. Lora, too, believed in stable and decent housing and she focused her energies on establishing and running a shelter for the homeless and providing needed services for those in greatest need.”

Charlie was committed to preserving affordable housing in Arlington and co-founded AHC Inc. (Arlington Housing Corporation) in 1975.  He later co-founded A-HOME (Affordable Homeownership for Everyone), and BRAVO (Buyers and Renters Arlington Voice) to give low-income residents more housing choices and a public voice.  Charlie was instrumental in saving The Gates of Ballston from conversion to market rate housing in 2001, making it possible for AHC Inc. to purchase the property in 2002 and preserve it as affordable housing.

Lora shared Charlie’s passion for social change.  While raising her young family, she co-directed the Center for New Creation, a peace and justice center.  She began to focus on hunger and homelessness in the 1980s, handing out food to those in need from her front porch.  In 1991 she co-founded A-SPAN (Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network) and served as its first Executive Director until 2007.  During those years, she also created Arlington’s first emergency winter shelter for the homeless.

Attendees included community activists, local leaders and members of the Rinker family who described how important social justice was to Lora and Charlie. “Both my parents were very much role models,” said Jeremy Rinker. “They exemplified the philosophy that one person could make a real difference.”

Also on hand at the ceremony were County Board members Mary Hynes, Jay Fisette, Walter Tejada and Libby Garvey, along with state Sen. Barbara Favola and former Virginia Del. Karen Darner.

Many of the same attendees had gathered at the Gates of Ballston in December when Senator Favola presented the Rinkers with Joint Resolutions from the Virginia General Assembly for their “leadership and devotion to the community.”

Photo left to right: Walter D. Webdale, Matthew Rinker, Natalie Rose, Lora Rinker, Jeremy Rinker and State Sen. Barbara Favola. 

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AHC Inc. Opens 83 New Affordable Apartments on Columbia Pike

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Dozens of supporters, community residents and local officials celebrated the grand opening of The Shell on May 14 in Arlington, VA.

AHC’s newest building provides 83 affordable new homes along Columbia Pike for individuals and families earning between 50% and 60% of the Area Median Income (AMI).

The six-story apartment building includes 5 three-bedroom apartments, 63 two-bedrooms, 10 one-bedrooms and 5 efficiencies. Nine of the apartments are handicap accessible and six are part of the permanent supportive housing program of Arlington County.

The demand for affordable housing in Arlington continues to grow. Since 2000, Arlington County has lost 13,500 market affordable apartments. Reflecting the ongoing need, The Shell’s waiting list quickly grew to more than 650 individuals and families before AHC stopped accepting additional applications.

Planning for The Shell began when AHC discovered a gas station at the corner of Columbia Pike and South Greenbrier Street in Arlington was available for sale. Always on the lookout for potential building sites, AHC began exploring the idea of combining the gas station property with undeveloped land that it owned next door and adjacent to its Harvey Hall Apartments. Several years later, that idea became a reality.

Today, the building features an 800-square-foot community room, a fitness room, ample underground parking and a plant-filled central courtyard.

AHC also incorporated several green features at The Shell to reduce electricity consumption and water usage. The building has a green roof as well as Energy Star appliances, energy efficient heating and air conditioning, and WaterSense faucets, showerheads, and toilets. An on-site storm water filtration system was installed to reduce runoff and improve the quality of rain water draining into local waters such as the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay.

“AHC is committed to developing top-quality buildings that not only provide welcoming homes for working families, but also include architectural elements and energy-efficient features that improve our residents’ quality of life, enhance the community and stand the test of time,” said Walter D. Webdale, AHC President and CEO.

Located at a busy corner along Columbia Pike, the Shell also includes 6,600 square feet of retail space. The building was the first project to receive approval under Arlington’s innovative Form Based Code, which encourages a blend of housing and commercial spaces to create a lively, walkable community.

“As Columbia Pike redevelops, the County is working to ensure that the Pike continues to be a vibrant place for people at all ages, stages and incomes,” said County Board Chair Mary Hynes.  “We’re proud that, by partnering with AHC using our affordable housing loan program (AHIF), our public-private partnership at The Shell will provide affordable housing AND retail for its residents and the greater neighborhood.”

Financing for the $32 million project included loans from Arlington County’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund (AHIF), Capital One, Virginia Housing Development Authority, AHC Inc., and 9% Low-Income Housing Tax Credit equity from Hudson Housing Capital. Other partners include NeighborWorks America and EarthCraft Virginia.

The Shell was designed by Cunningham l Quill Architects and built by Harkins Builders Inc.

View More Grand Opening Event Photos

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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 49 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.