Faces of AHC
Long-time advocacy and support of affordable housing in Arlington
AHC Inc. is honored to welcome the Honorable J. Walter Tejada into its Housing Hall of Fame. “We are proud to present this award to Mr. Tejada in recognition of his outstanding leadership and public service on behalf of the people of Arlington County and in appreciation for his tireless advocacy to preserve and expand affordable housing for low-income families,” 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. Tejada served on the Arlington County Board for almost 13 years (2003 to 2015). He has been actively engaged in local issues since moving to Arlington in 1992. He is a strong proponent of affordable housing with a deep commitment to providing decent housing for Arlington’s most vulnerable and economically disadvantaged residents.
His commitment to affordable housing has its roots in personal experience. He and his family moved from El Salvador to Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, New York City when he was 13. He saw his mother struggle to pay the rent while living in a tough neighborhood.
In Arlington, he became involved in community issues through a local chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). Mr. Tejada devoted many hours to building awareness about the Latino community in Arlington and helped start the Community Volunteer Network and the Shirlington Employment and Education Center.
He served on several citizen advisory groups, including the Fiscal Affairs Advisory Commission, the Affordable Housing Task Force, the Sports Commission, and the Neighborhood Day Organizing Committee before being elected to the County Board in 2003. Fighting to prevent the displacement of 3,700 low-income residents in Arna Valley in the 1990s crystallized his commitment to affordable housing.
“In the Latino culture, we don’t want other people to go homeless, we help each other,” explained Mr. Tejada. “By the time I joined the Arlington County Board, affordable housing had become front and center for me – and it has never stopped being a high priority.”
His commitment has made a significant impact over the years. He helped push for dedicated funding for the Affordable Housing Investment Fund (AHIF), a loan fund that helps bridge the funding gap for affordable housing projects. He was also instrumental in preserving the Buckingham Garden apartments and the successful development of Arlington Mill, which provides affordable housing along with community space on public land.
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; Rick Nelson, former Director of Montgomery County’s Department of Housing and Community Affairs; and Harkins Builders, long-time AHC business partner and supporter.
Photo: Virginia leaders celebrate AHC’s Housing Hall of Fame honorees for their dedication, vision and advocacy of affordable housing in Arlington. From left to right: Virginia State Senator Barbara Favola; Virginia State Senator Adam Ebbin; Dr. Leonard L. Hamlin, Sr., Honoree; Patricia McGrady, Honoree; J. Walter Tejada, Honoree and former Arlington County Board member; Arlington County Board Vice-Chair Jay Fisette; and Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey.