PROJECT HIGHLIGHT: GILLIAM Place
The Arlington Presbyterian Church is located at the intersection of Columbia Pike and South Lincoln Street, in the Alcova Heights Civic Association neighborhood. In 2013, the congregation decided that its 100-year-old church could better serve the community in the long term by redeveloping it into much-needed affordable housing. In January 2015, the church agreed to sell the site to the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH), a nonprofit affordable housing developer. APAH plans to transform the church site into a six-story apartment building with 173 committed affordable housing units that will remain affordable for 60 years.
The mixed-use apartment complex, named Gilliam Place after a visionary member of the congregation, will be developed as two separate and distinct low income housing tax credit (LIHTC) projects. Gilliam Place East, with 83 units, and Gilliam Place West, with 90 units, will have a combined total of 173 CAFs. On the ground floor, APAH will provide approximately 8,900 square feet of retail and civic uses, along with a three-level below-grade parking garage with 205 parking spaces. The County allocated a total of $18.1 million in AHIF loan funds for acquisition and construction, as well as $745,298 in funds from the Transit Oriented Affordable Housing (TOAH) fund.
“Housing developments in which families face episodes of crisis with no ready means of help, where residents have trouble paying rent regularly, where children have few constructive activities for their idle time, where employment opportunity is remote and residents feel walled off in an economic neverland - these are the properties that most often decline and fail."
“More than Roof and Walls,” Enterprise Community Partners, 2008
Arlington’s affordable housing programs aren’t just about bricks and mortar, just as a safe, stable and diverse community isn’t just about housing.
Arlington and its housing partners also invest in people and families to create a stable and vibrant community and increase economic self-sufficiency. Resident services programs offered by affordable housing developers, as well as community-based programs by County and nonprofit partners, strengthen economic and social stability of families. Programs and services address a wide variety of family and individual needs, including job training and counseling; youth after-school and camp programs; eviction prevention and financial counseling; food distribution services; community building events; and more.
Some accomplishments in FY 2016 include…
Eviction prevention: Nonprofit providers AHC, Inc., Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH), and Wesley Housing Development Corporation (WHDC) provided eviction prevention services to a combined total of 849 families, of whom 812 avoided eviction.
Financial literacy: WHDC and APAH offered financial literacy programs for adults, with 56 completing training.
Employment: More than 71 residents participated in job readiness activities at APAH and WHDC properties, including employment coaching resume writing, application assistance, and computer classes.
After school: More than 140 children participated in AHC’s and WHDC’s after school programs, of which more than 84% improved reading levels by at least one grade level, or maintained an A/B average.
Summer camps: AHC’s and WHDC’s summer camp programs served 154 children, with more than 87% maintaining math and reading levels.
PROJECT HIGHLIGHT: A Family’s Stability
Andres and Alma Vigil, originally from El Salvador, moved to Arlington in 1990 and have lived at Virginia Gardens, an affordable apartment community owned and managed by AHC Inc., since 1997 with their four children ages 13 to 21.
The Vigils enjoy living at Virginia Gardens because of the sense of community. “Arlington now feels like my original hometown,” says Mrs. Vigil. “All our children were born and raised here. Virginia Gardens is very kid-friendly, and we like the after-school programs, too.”
Iris, the Vigil’s oldest daughter, attends George Mason University, and one day hopes to become a pediatrician. A participant in AHC’s education programs since kindergarten, Iris is the first in her family to go to college and even participated in Michelle Obama’s leadership and mentoring program for high school students.
The family attributes much of their family’s success to fact that they have had a secure, affordable place to live for so many years. “It is important to us because Arlington is a very safe place,” explains Mrs. Vigil. “The schools in Arlington are great, and two children in our family have graduated from Arlington public schools. And one is in college, which wouldn’t have been possible without all the support from the great teachers and programs that both Arlington and AHC have provided.”
PROJECT HIGHLIGHT: A Veteran’s Success
Ricky Andrews was a chronically homeless veteran for more than 10 years, staying on the streets and in shelters. “I'd go to an abandoned building, or some porch or a condemned building or something like that. Even cardboard boxes,” Andrews said.
In July 2015 he moved into his own apartment, one of 20 veterans in Arlington to make the leap from homelessness to stable housing that year. While everyone’s story is different and every path from homelessness to housing takes different twists and turns, Arlington has developed a set of strategies, tools and resources that are proving effective in ending veteran and chronic homelessness.
Andrews’ challenges included primary health challenges, mental health issues, an extensive criminal history and a long history of substance abuse. "I was really worried because his health started failing. He started having more appointments with the VA [Veterans Administration] and that’s when we knew it was a serious issue. We had to get him housing or he would most likely die on the streets,” said A-SPAN Outreach Specialist Ayana Bellamy.
Working with Bellamy and a housing locator – a specialist who works with clients and landlords to identify housing options and overcome leasing barriers -- Andrews was able to secure housing and connect with supportive services to help him address his health and other issues. “It's just what I needed. They answered my prayers so I couldn’t ask for more,” said Andrews as he turned the key to his new apartment.