Local Leaders Kick Off $100 Million AHC Inc. Affordable Housing Redevelopment in Arlington

With sledge hammers and shovels, local leaders, community members and partners helped kick off the redevelopment of The Berkeley, an aging affordable apartment complex in Arlington, VA.

Arlington-based nonprofit developer AHC Inc. is transforming the outdated property into a new affordable community with 256 apartments – almost doubling the original 137 homes. The $100 million redevelopment is expected to welcome residents in 2020.

Nearly 50 people helped celebrate the milestone event. Virginia State Delegate Alfonso Lopez, who represents the neighborhood, took the first whack at the building. Former State Senator Mary Margaret Whipple and Arlington County Board leaders Christian Dorsey and Erik Gutshall also participated.

The 4.6 acre project, five years in planning, is significant because it complements Arlington County’s Affordable Housing Master Plan by providing affordable apartments in a neighborhood that has a lower share of affordable housing.

“AHC is excited about building something new in this part of the County that will welcome so many more families looking for a comfortable, modern and affordable home in Arlington,” said Mary Claire Davis, AHC Inc. Director and Berkeley Development Manager.

The redevelopment also includes a broader mix of housing options than most affordable projects. “Along with much-needed affordable housing, we are also adding ‘missing middle’ housing for households that earn 60% to 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI) – a demographic that is having an increasingly tough time finding homes they can afford,” said AHC Board Vice-Chair John Snyder. “We are also including a large number of apartments for families – a real need here in Arlington. Eighty-one percent of the new homes will have two or three bedrooms.”

The new development also complements the Four Mile Run Master Plan with a green design, active outdoor spaces and increased access to the waterfront through additional access points and a much wider pedestrian/bike trail. Reduced impervious surfaces along the stream will minimize run off by 80 percent. The buildings also limit environmental impact by meeting EarthCraft Gold standards.

Other positive community benefits include space for resident services, fitness room, playground and outdoor sport court.

“I want to thank AHC and all of you here for improving the quality of life for countless people and making the dream of what is and should be Arlington more real every day,” said Delegate Lopez.

The project’s financing includes up to $20.9 million in revolving loan funds from Arlington’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund (AHIF). The redevelopment also won $2.5 million in 9% Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC), which will provide approximately $24 million in equity financing. The highly competitive federal program, designed to encourage the development of affordable rental housing, is administered through the Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA). The project also received approximately $1 million in 4% LIHTC tax credits, which will generate roughly $10 million in equity. NeighborWorksAmerica helped fund pre-development costs.

Project partners include Arlington County; Capital One; Harkins Builders; Hudson Housing; Klein Hornig, LLP; Michael T. Foster Architects; NeighborWorks America; Walter L. Phillips, Shulman, Rogers, Gandal, Pordy & Ecker, P.A.; Virginia Housing Development Authority; and Walsh, Colucci, Lubeley & Walsh, P.C.

Event photos.

Photo Left to Right: AHC Board members C.C. Jenkins and John Snyder, Virginia State Delegate Alfonso Lopez, Former State Senator Mary Margaret Whipple, Arlington County Board Vice-Chair Christian Dorsey, AHC President and CEO Walter D. Webdale, Arlington County Board member Erik Gutshall, and AHC Board member Wanda Pierce, helped “Knock Down” the Berkeley.  

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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 50+ properties in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, DC. AHC’s Resident Services program reaches 3,000 children, teens, adults and seniors each year through onsite education programs and activities.

 

 

AHC Celebrates 20 High School Grads – All First in Family to Attend College

In early June, AHC Inc. honored 20 high school graduates during a special celebration with families, mentors, education leaders, and much applause. School Board member Tannia Talento was the keynote speaker.

AHC’s Class of 2018’s achievements are remarkable. Perhaps most life-changing, ALL of the students are the first in their families to attend college.

Their future hopes and dreams are wide-ranging, including cyber security, film and media studies, special education, mechanical engineering, criminal justice, auto mechanics, architecture, social work, animation, civil engineering, pre-med, international relations and psychology.

Together, the group earned more than $613,000 in scholarships. Two students received full-tuition scholarships. Flor Caceres is attending Lafayette College through the POSSE Foundation. And, Ruth Mengesha is going to James Madison University through the Centennial Scholars Program.

The students are participants in AHC’s College & Career Readiness Program, a component of AHC’s overall education initiative that provides after-school, teen, and summer camp programs in the affordable apartment communities where students live. Many of the graduates have grown up in AHC’s programs. Three of this year’s class started in Kindergarten.

Lydia Abraha, who has participated in AHC’s programs since she was six, believes the program has helped her become who she is today. “I’ve built many relationships with staff members and tutors that have influenced my life,” says Abraha. “I can’t imagine my life without the memories and positive impact AHC has provided me.” A dedicated student, Abraha was accepted into eight colleges. She chose Virginia Tech because she received the Virginia Tech Inclusive Student Excellence Scholarship and plans to study mechanical engineering.

Along with students’ hard work, the College and Career Planning program succeeds thanks to mentors who work one-on-one with students throughout their senior year. Volunteers help students keep up their grades and navigate college and scholarship applications. Their commitment produces real results. This year, students applied to 93 colleges and universities and were accepted into 65.

Over the years, many of the students and mentors have developed lasting relationships. “We will definitely stay in touch,” said Undrakh Tsend, who is attending the College of William and Mary, and has worked with tutor Lisa Martin since 8th grade. “She is my mentor and my best friend, too,” said Tsend.

Mentor Alex Payne also hopes to keep in touch with Victor Orellana, who is enrolled in the Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) Pathways Program. “The mentoring program has been rewarding and productive for both of us,” says Payne. “We’ll definitely keep in touch and I hope he keeps me updated when he registers for classes.” Orellana, who hopes to be a graphic designer or animator, agrees. “I hope we stay friends forever,” he says.

AHC’s College & Career Readiness Program is part of AHC’s comprehensive commitment to “Housing + Education = Success.” The organization’s goal is to provide educational opportunities and social services to help individuals and families build stable lives, put down roots and become strong community members.

Many thanks to Project Discovery Virginia and Arlington Public Schools for their support of our students and our programs.

AHC Class of 2018 Students

Umniya Abdu (Virginia Commonwealth University), Lydia Abraha (Virginia Tech), Dayana Albarado (George Mason University), Sharon Albarado (George Mason University), Flor Caceres (Lafayette College), Flavia Dominguez (George Mason University), Kiana Flores (Northern Virginia Community College), Christopher Lozano (Northern Virginia Community College), Katelyn Ly (James Madison University), Ruth Mengesha (James Madison University), Carlos Orellana (Northern Virginia Community College), Victor Orellana (Northern Virginia Community College), Bibho Prasai (Northern Virginia Community College), Daniel Rodriguez (Northern Virginia Community College), Bryan Sanchez (Northern Virginia Community College), Ainood Soliman (George Mason University), Carlos Soliz (Northern Virginia Community College), Undrakh Tsend (College of William and Mary), Minjin Uranbayar (James Madison University) and Katerin Villegas (Northern Virginia Community College).

2017/2018 Mentors

Tim Bellaire, Jim Burridge, Terry Burridge, Rachel Cosgray, Christina Ann Dietrich, Jean Falvey, Evan Heit, Cindy Kaang, Alexandra Lucas, Christine Mader, Lisa Martin, Katie Masterson, Judy Palmore, Alex Payne, Jonathan Roose, Kathryn Sheehan, Sharon Showalter, David Slater, Ann Symonds, Jennifer Ukegbu, Gary Usrey and Maria Woolverton.

Photos from the graduation celebration.

For volunteer opportunities, visit https://www.ahcinc.org/get-involved/volunteers/

Photo: From left to right: Flor Caceres (Lafayette College), Bibho Prasai (Northern Virginia Community College) and Undrakh Tsend (College of William and Mary) participated in AHC’s education programs at Woodbury Park/Frederick Community Center.

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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 50+ properties in Virginia,  Maryland and Washington, DC. AHC’s Resident Services program reaches 3,000 children, teens, adults and seniors each year through onsite education programs and activities.

 

High School Seniors Announce College Choice at AHC Inc. Signing Day

With brand new college t-shirts and big smiles, 20 high school seniors proudly announced where they are going to college during AHC Inc.’s recent College Signing Day. The students, participants in AHC’s College & Career Readiness Program, are all the first in their families to achieve this milestone. AHC, a nonprofit affordable housing developer, provides a variety of onsite services for residents, including education programs for youth.

Going to college is a life-changing achievement. College graduates, on average, earn 56% more than high school grads, according to the Economic Policy Institute. Earning a college degree will change these students’ lives as well as the lives of their families.

Housing + Education = Success is one of AHC’s key philosophies. Along with building and preserving affordable apartment communities, AHC also provides a variety of onsite services for residents, including education programs for youth. The organization’s goal is to help individuals and families build stable lives, put down roots and become strong community members.

Celebrating with the teens were volunteer mentors, AHC Inc. staff, parents, representatives from Arlington Public Schools and leaders from Project Discovery of Virginia, a statewide program that provides resources and tools to help students stay in school and successfully access post-secondary education.

The students are planning to attend a variety of schools, including the College of William and Mary, George Mason University, James Madison University, Lafayette College, Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) Pathways Program, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Virginia Tech.

Youth are considering a wide range of careers, including criminal justice, mechanical engineering, film and media studies, cyber security, special education, architecture, graphic design, pre-med or nursing, game design, social work, math education, history, civil engineering, and international relations.

“I am incredibly proud of all of our students,” said Milenka Coronel, College & Career Readiness Manager. “They have worked so hard to get to this day.”

Initiated in 2016, AHC’s College & Career Readiness Program helps high school seniors successfully transition to the next step. The program pairs students with adult volunteer mentors who help teens succeed academically and also navigate the challenges of college applications and scholarship opportunities.

“The mentor/student relationship is the secret sauce of our program,” explained Coronel. “They work one-on-one for a full year and develop a real partnership. Signing Day was as exciting for the mentors as it was for the students.”

Several students earned significant scholarships.

Flor Caceres, for instance, earned a POSSE Foundation Scholarship, a four-year, full-tuition leadership merit scholarship that also includes mentoring, leadership training, and career preparation. Flor will be attending Lafayette College in Pennsylvania.

Ruth Megesha received the James Madison University Centennial Scholars Program, a full, four-year scholarship, which also provides financial assistance and multi-level academic support.

The College & Career Readiness Program is the culmination of AHC’s multi-faceted education program, which also includes an after-school program and summer camp for elementary students plus tutoring for teens. For more than 10 years, 100% of the seniors in the program have successfully graduated from high school.

Many students have grown up in the program.  Lydia Abraha and Katelyn Ly have been involved since kindergarten. And Carlos Soliz started in elementary school.

“Our Resident Services program, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, works so well because we provide programs where people live,” explained Susan Davidson, AHC’s Director of Resident Services.

Lydia, one of the 2018 graduates, joined AHC’s education program when she was in kindergarten. She and her family lived at the Berkeley Apartments all her life and recently moved to another AHC property while the Berkeley is being renovated.

One of her favorite memories is how her long-time mentor, Tim Bellaire, helped her master freshman math. “I think I actually started getting into what I wanted to do for college thanks to his influence in math and encouragement to work hard,” says Lydia.

Since then, Lydia’s math skills have expanded significantly. At AHC’s College Signing Day, she announced she is going to Virginia Tech to study mechanical engineering. And, just as he’s been doing since Lydia was in middle school, Tim Bellaire was there to cheer her on.

For volunteer opportunities, visit https://www.ahcinc.org/get-involved/volunteers/

 

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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 50+ properties in Virginia,  Maryland and Washington, DC. AHC’s Resident Services program reaches 3,000 children, teens, adults and seniors each year through onsite education programs and activities.

 

93 New Affordable Apartments Open in Alexandria

Development Also Includes Preschool and Market-Rate Townhomes

(April 16, 2018 – Arlington, VA) Local lawmakers, partners, community supporters and residents joined AHC Inc. to cut the ribbon on St. James Plaza, which delivers 93 new affordable apartments to the City of Alexandria’s Beauregard neighborhood.

Working together, nonprofit developer AHC Inc. and the City of Alexandria successfully transformed three acres previously owned by St. James United Methodist Church into a vibrant, mixed-use, mixed-income community with an onsite pre-school operated by The Campagna Center. Families began moving into St. James Plaza in mid-March.

With affordable housing increasingly difficult to find in Northern Virginia, the St. James Plaza waiting list topped 2,600 people by the beginning of March. According to information published by the City of Alexandria’s Office of Housing, the number of market-affordable rental units in the City of Alexandria has declined 90% between 2000 and 2017.

To help subsidize the cost of the land for the affordable apartment building, AHC Inc. sold half of the site to Craftmark, a McLean-based homebuilding company. Craftmark is building 31 two- and three-bedroom market-rate townhomes adjacent to AHC’s apartment building.

“Finding developable land and putting together the financing to create quality affordable housing is a complex challenge,” said AHC Inc. Board Vice-Chair John V. Snyder. “This project is a living example of how local government, a nonprofit and a market-rate developer can work together to create a welcoming community with a variety of housing opportunities.”

The City of Alexandria approved a $5.7 million development loan to partially fund construction of the affordable building. AHC Inc. also received $19 million in competitive 9% Low-income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) equity through the Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA) competitive process.

“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 the City’s commitment to remaining inclusive and diverse by successfully creating mixed-income communities.”

The new development also includes an Early Learning Center, operated by The Campagna Center, with capacity to serve 50 children ages three to five across three classrooms.  The Campagna Center has offered quality educational programming and services in Alexandria for over 50 years. The Early Learning Center will open in September.

“The Campagna Center is excited to launch a new preschool in the Beauregard neighborhood–the second we have placed in an AHC Inc. community — and is eager to build connections with neighbors, local employers, and the nearby community college,” said President and CEO Tammy L. Mann. “Our ability to co-locate a quality preschool within a vibrant, diverse residential community helps families access vital early learning opportunities and extends our impact throughout Alexandria.”

St. James Plaza will include a mix of efficiencies and one- two- and three-bedroom apartments for households with incomes between 40% and 60% of the Area Median Income (AMI). A family of four, for instance, qualifies with a maximum household income between $46,880 (40% AMI) and $70,320 (60% AMI). The rent for a two-bedroom apartment will range from $920 (40% AMI) to $1,447 (60% AMI).

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.

In addition to the City of Alexandria, development partners include Capital One Bank, Hudson Housing Capital, Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF), NeighborWorks and NeighborWorks Capital. Designed by Cunningham-Quill Architects, the five-story building was constructed by Harkins Builders.

St. James Plaza is AHC’s second development in Alexandria. Jackson Crossing, with 78 affordable apartments, opened in 2016 on Route 1 near Potomac Yard.

A third project, in partnership with the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection, is on the drawing board. The Alexandria City Council approved the 113-unit project and a loan of up to $9 million in January 2018.  The project is subject to AHC receiving low-income housing tax credits later this year through the Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA).

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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 50+ properties in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, DC. AHC’s Resident Services program reaches 3,000 children, teens, adults and seniors each year through onsite education programs and activities.

Photo: Residents, partners, housing officials and local lawmakers, including City of Alexandria Mayor Allison Silberberg, helped cut the ribbon at the grand opening of St. James Plaza. Photo credit: Nick Crettier Photography

 

NeighborWorks America Helps Build Housing, Resident Services and Organizational Success

 NeighborWorks America (NW) was founded 40 years ago as a grassroots approach to creating better, more affordable homes in places that need them most. Since its Congressional chartering in 1978, the organization has expanded from working with 50 nonprofit organizations to nearly 250 nationwide.

AHC Inc. is proud to have been a NeighborWorks partner since 2001. Since then, we have received $13 million in assistance, which we have leveraged with public and private investment to develop more than 5,000 affordable and workforce housing units.

“Neighborworks America’s steadfast support to AHC Inc. over the last 18 years has significantly impacted AHC’s ability to expand our efforts in creating affordable housing and positively impacting the lives of our residents,” said Stephen Smith, AHC Inc. Executive Vice President. “NW assists AHC to strengthen communities, promote innovation, raise low cost capital and enhance our organization’s sustainability.”

Over the years, NeighborWorks has also significantly helped its nonprofit partners develop programs for residents, including financial coaching, job readiness and placement, healthy housing and access to educational opportunities.

NeighborWorks has supported a variety of AHC’s initiatives to help residents build stronger lives. Currently, NeighborWorks is working with AHC to develop an expanded Financial Capability program to help our residents build assets and start saving so they have more financial stability and are not living paycheck to paycheck. AHC started building a Financial Capability program in Baltimore eight years ago, and the initiative has already significantly improved hundreds of lives. Based on that success and, thanks to NeighborWorks support, AHC is working to replicate those efforts in Arlington.

Along with housing and services for residents, NW also helps its partners build strong and sustainable organizations.  “NW programs promote the professional growth and development of AHC staff and provide critical ongoing technical assistance to AHC – key ingredients to AHC’s organizational success,” said Smith.

Recently, AHC participated in a Peer Exchange with Common Bond Communities (St. Paul, MN) and Eden Housing (Hayward, CA) thanks to NeighborWorks support. Bringing organizations together from different parts of the country provides a valuable opportunity to share strategies and develop constructive ideas.

Photo: Leaders from Common Bond Communities and Eden Housing joined AHC Inc. to exchange ideas during a recent NeighborWorks Peer Exchange.

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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 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.