Faces of AHC
Career in Affordable Housing Spans Five Decades
AHC Inc. is honored to celebrate Rick Nelson’s career in affordable housing by naming him to its 2016 Housing Hall of Fame. “We are proud to recognize Mr. Nelson’s more than 50 years of service on behalf of affordable housing and also in appreciation for his strong support of AHC Inc. to preserve affordable housing in Montgomery County,” said AHC President and CEO, Walter D. Webdale.
AHC Inc., a nonprofit affordable housing developer based in Arlington, VA, established its Housing Hall of Fame 15 years ago to honor individuals for their vision, dedication and advocacy on behalf of affordable housing. The award was presented as part of AHC Inc.’s 40th Anniversary celebration.
Mr. Nelson’s career began with an internship at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The experience changed his path from lawyer to housing advocate. Since then he has been committed to affordable housing and has held a variety of leadership positions, including 31 years with the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO), serving as its executive director from 1987 through 2001.
In Montgomery County, he served as Director of the Department of Housing and Community Affairs from 2007 to 2015 and was the driving force behind AHC Inc.’s entry into the affordable housing market in the county.
Under his leadership, Montgomery County dramatically increased the Housing Initiative Fund (HIF), a locally funded housing trust fund that is used to preserve and produce a continuum of housing options, including affordable housing. During his tenure, the County partnered with AHC on a number of innovative strategies that preserved more than 1,000 affordable apartments.
A champion of affordable housing, he has served twice as a commissioner of the Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission, from 1991 to 2007, and again in 2015 following his retirement as an employee of Montgomery County. He is a member of the Affordable Housing Advisory Council of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta, a Life Director of the National Housing Conference and an Emeritus Board Member of the Housing and Development Law Institute.
Throughout his career, Mr. Nelson has worked to provide affordable housing that blends into the community and provides homes for people who might not otherwise be able to live there.
“There can be a misperception about who the recipients are in affordable housing. But, people in affordable housing are your kids, the clerks in the stores, as well as other lower income families,” said Mr. Nelson. “In Montgomery County we have made the effort to provide housing that is integrated into the community so people can’t distinguish between folks who can afford to live in the community and those who can’t.
Other Housing Hall of Fame honorees include: Dr. Leonard L. Hamlin, Sr., Pastor of the Macedonia Baptist Church; Patricia McGrady, decades-long affordable housing activist and volunteer; J. Walter Tejada, former Arlington County Board member; and Harkins Builders, long-time AHC business partner and supporter.
Photo: Rick Nelson (center) accepts Housing Hall of Fame award from AHC Inc. President and CEO Walter D. Webdale (left) and AHC Inc. Board Chair Justin Oliver (right).