Housing Coalition Urges Arlington County Board to “Fulfill the Promise” of Affordable Housing Master Plan

New report recommends strategies to reach annual goal of 600 units

Arlington, VA  (December 16, 2017) – A coalition of housing experts and advocates urged the County Board to pursue strategies to meet the production goals set out in Arlington’s Affordable Housing Master Plan, which was unanimously adopted in 2015. “Despite heroic efforts by the staff and the Board, we are falling way short of our annual goal of nearly 600 units”, said John Milliken, chair of the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH) and former member of the County Board. The County’s own assessment report documents that an average of just 224 committed affordable homes were added between 2011 and 2016, a pace far below the goal.

The report, Fulfilling the Promise: Meeting the Production Goal of Arlington’s Affordable Housing Master Plan, identifies strategies to reduce costs or increase funding for the Affordable Housing Investment Fund (AHIF), the County’s loan program to support affordable housing development and preservation. Each strategy includes a case study highlighting how the recommendation could make a difference in Arlington. The report was developed by a coalition of housing and land-use experts and advocates.

County Board members embraced the report, which Chairman Fisette described as “Vintage Arlington”, and directed staff to identify the most promising recommendations to incorporate into the work plan for 2018. Board members endorsed deeper exploration of several report strategies including cost-saving and stream-lining measures, changes in tax policy, and modification of the County’s bonus density policy. Christian Dorsey, thanked the report authors for “kick-starting us in the right direction,” an appreciation echoed by John Vihstadt and Katie Cristol.

“Arlington needs to remain a place where all can live: where our kids can start out and our grandparents remain. It should remain a place where any who work here should, if they choose, be able to live here,” said John Milliken.

Report signers and coalition members:

Susan Ingraham Bell, Independent Planning Consultant

Matt Birenbaum, CIO, AvalonBay Communities, Inc.

Paul Browne, Vice President, Real Estate Development, Wesley Housing.

Kelly Eichhorn, CFO, APAH

Pat Findikoglu, Housing Advocate

Jay Harris, Principal, Harris Crystal Advisors

Dr. Leonard L. Hamlin, Sr., Pastor, Macedonia Baptist Church

Nina Janopaul, President and CEO, APAH

Richard Jordan, Managing Director, Potomac Investment Properties

Jonathan C. Kinney, Shareholder, Bean, Kinney & Korman

John Milliken, Board Chair, APAH, retired elected official

Shelley Murphy, President and CEO, Wesley Housing

Justin C. Oliver, Board Chair, AHC Inc.

Cheryl Ramp, Director of Community Resources and Relations, APAH

Carmen Romero, Vice President, Real Estate Development, APAH

John Shooshan, Chairman, The Shooshan Company

Stephen E. Smith, Executive Vice President, AHC Inc.

Michael Spotts, President, Neighborhood Fundamentals, LLC

Walter Webdale, President and CEO, AHC Inc.

John Welsh, Vice President, Multifamily Group, AHC Inc.

Mary Margaret Whipple, President, Alliance for Housing Solutions, retired elected official

Michelle Winters, Executive Director, Alliance for Housing Solutions

Kevin Yam, Managing Director, Iron Point Partners

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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 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.

 

Walter D. Webdale Receives Distinguished Alumni Award

December 19, 2017 – Canisius College has named Walter D. Webdale, AHC Inc. President and CEO, a Distinguished Alumni, the highest honor bestowed upon those who differentiate themselves as leaders in their chosen professions.

“It’s one of the special privileges as president to know of the amazing personal and professional accomplishments of our alumni,” said Canisius President, John J. Hurley. “Known as a pioneer in the field of urban renewal, Walter D. Webdale has been in the affordable housing industry for more than 50 years. Under Webdale’s tutelage, AHC more than tripled its multifamily housing portfolio, and its award-winning resident services program expanded to reach 3,000 children, adults and seniors each year through onsite education programs.”

Canisius College, founded in 1870 by German Jesuits, is located in Buffalo, NY and promotes the Jesuit principles of excellence, service and leadership.

“For more than 50 years, my life’s work has been to provide a roof overhead to those who need it most,” said Webdale upon accepting the award. “Developing quality affordable housing along with services to help families build successful futures for themselves and their children is my passion and my vocation. I credit Canisius College with inspiring my compassion for others who need a helping hand; for building my leadership skills; and for instilling my love for learning, which has helped me keep pace with our evolving world.”

Link to full College Citation

Photo: Canisius College President, John J. Hurley (left), congratulates Walter D. Webdale, AHC Inc. President and CEO, on receiving the Distinguished Alumni Award at the Montante Cultural Center, a completely renovated and refurbished concert hall that was one of the college’s original churches.

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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 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.

Celebrating Thanksgiving – AHC Serves Up 30+ Turkeys at Six Community Centers in Arlington

Thanksgiving-2017

November 22, 2017 — In celebration of the holiday season, AHC Inc. continued its annual tradition of hosting Thanksgiving dinners at several of its affordable housing communities in Arlington. For some residents, the Thanksgiving dinner is a preview to the one they’ll share with family on Thursday. For others, it is their main Thanksgiving celebration – a time to share big plates of food with their families and neighbors in the community.

“These events are a wonderful opportunity to build community at our properties and bring residents together,” said Resident Services Director Susan Davidson. “It’s great to experience so many different cultural flavors along with the traditional turkey dinner.”

This year, AHC hosted Thanksgiving celebrations at six community centers that offer onsite education programs and services for residents. AHC staff teamed up with dozens of volunteers to cook more than 30 turkeys, prepare side dishes, and help decorate community spaces for hundreds of residents to enjoy a Thanksgiving feast together.

At Woodbury Park Apartments, long lines of guests waited outside on Monday evening for the community center doors to open. Becky Koons, Senior Resident Services Manager, spent the day cooking mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, corn, and stuffing. Prior to the dinner, Koons predicted they would need eight turkeys for the 300 to 400 guests they were expecting.

“I think there were one thousand people!” said ten-year-old volunteer Micah Peters. Peters, who helped hand out desserts to guests, said he would come back again next year to help. “It was cool to see kids my age. Chocolate cake was the most popular [dish].”

Marco Condor attended the Woodbury dinner with his two youngest children, Anthony and Emily. Condor and his family have lived at Woodbury Park for five years, where his children participate in AHC’s After-School Program. They are enjoying another Thanksgiving event with extended family on Thursday.

Cynthia Ma and her daughter, Christina, residents at Woodbury for 10 years, consider Monday night’s meal their main Thanksgiving dinner. They celebrate the holiday by paying it forward – volunteering at a local shelter to help prepare Thanksgiving meals.

At Harvey Hall Apartments, Resident Services Manager Jasmine Rose organized a smaller dinner of around 60 to 70 guests for AHC’s After-School Program students and their extended families.

“It’s fun for the kids to have their families come where we host the program. We keep their artwork out on display for their families to see,” said Rose. “[These dinners] are just a perfect way to bring folks together around Thanksgiving.”

At The Gates of Ballston Rinker Community Center celebration, families received a special guest appearance along with their Thanksgiving meal. The Arlington County Police Department’s First District Community Team stopped by to spend time with the young students and wish families a happy Thanksgiving. The team has become a regular visitor at AHC’s After-School Program and spent the evening with students who had prepared special napkins with notes about what they were thankful for this holiday season.

“We enjoy spending time with the kids, helping them with crafts and other activities,” said Officer Michael Keen. “It’s nice to build continuity with the students and their families.”

About a dozen volunteers helped prepare and serve Thanksgiving dishes at the Gates of Ballston event. “They really went above and beyond,” said Shardae Monroe, Resident Services Coordinator. “I think that’s what made the event so successful.”

One of the volunteers, Coral Harris, has worked with youth in AHC’s education programs for three years. She enjoyed the opportunity to visit with students and their families – and share a big batch of home-cooked macaroni and cheese. Her long-time commitment also reflects the spirit of Thanksgiving.

“A lot of people helped me along the way, and I am grateful for the opportunity to give back,” said Harris. “I feel it is necessary to do what I can.”

– Andrew Karpinski

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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 53 properties in Virginia and Maryland. AHC’s Resident Services program reaches 2,500 children, teens, adults and seniors each year through onsite education programs and activities.

 

Three Ways You Can Help Advocate for Affordable Housing

Justin-Oliver

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.

 

 

 

AHC Teens Tour University of Virginia

UVA-trip

November 17, 2017 — Nearly 50 AHC students and staff members recently toured the University of Virginia. The students, mostly high school juniors and seniors, were delighted to experience the historic campus first hand.

AHC’s Teen Tutoring and College and Career  Readiness Programs provide a variety of field trips for students to help them navigate the complicated path to choosing a college or a career after high school. Each year, AHC teens visit two to three local colleges. The program is also visiting Howard University and Marymount University in the spring.

One of the highlights of the UVA trip was the student panel, which included a diverse group of students who spoke about their personal college experiences. “The panel was really helpful for our students,” explains Milenka Coronel, AHC’s College and Career Readiness Manager. “Hearing stories from students of different backgrounds and from different states allowed our students to see that college is possible for everyone.”

The UVA students also provided helpful tips on work opportunities on campus (a priority for many AHC students) and advice on choosing a college, finding scholarship dollars and filling out applications. AHC students also enjoyed learning more about the opportunity to create a unique major and the wide variety of social and extracurricular activities that are an important part of a full college experience.

Eight seniors also had an opportunity to choose and attend a class lecture or seminar. The experience was really inspiring.

One student, Dayana, was particularly excited about attending a computer programming course and brought her own laptop to follow along. After the class was over she said: “This was really helpful to see a college course, and I know I want to pursue my major even more now. It was exciting and informational.”

Photo: Rhegan Hyypio Nunez

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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 53 properties in Virginia and Maryland. AHC’s Resident Services program reaches 2,500 children, teens, adults and seniors each year through onsite education programs and activities.