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

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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.

 

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

 

Don-Beyer-at-construction-site

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.

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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.

 

Woodbury Park Grand Re-Opening Celebrates its Historic Heritage

Woodbury-Park-Ribbon-Cutting

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

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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 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.

 

2017 Summer Camp Focuses on Creativity

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The AHC Summer Camp provides fun, outdoor exercise and field trips while maintaining students’ literacy and math skills learned during the school year. The 2017 theme is “Creating”, which will give students the opportunity to be artists, inventors and scientists while stretching their imaginations.

The combination of fun and learning really works. More than 9o% of the students tested during last year’s camp showed no loss or some gain in their reading level. And a full quarter of campers returned to school in September reading at a higher level than in June.

Research shows that low-income students can lose more than two months of reading and math skills during the summer. AHC’s program is changing that equation.

As Patti, one of AHC’s Reading Specialists, says: “The Summer Camp Program provides experiences which bridge the end of the school year to the beginning of the next school year. Without making new discoveries and connecting with community, many children start all over again when the school year arrives.”

A stable community and year-round help with education is changing AHC students’ lives. Volunteers and/or donations are most welcome to help support the program.

Click here to volunteer.

Click here to donate.