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Fostering Community Stability Arlington County's 2018 Affordable Housing Annual Report

The theme for this year's Affordable Housing Master Plan Annual Report is “Fostering Community Stability”

The goals of Arlington's Affordable Housing Master Plan (AHMP) work together to ensure that there will be an adequate supply of housing to meet future demand, that households of all incomes are able to access services and resources that promote economic opportunity, and that housing efforts contribute to a sustainable community. Arlington believes that when all of these goals are addressed, the entire community benefits – whether through better school outcomes due to increased family stability, a healthier community because households don’t have to make trade-offs between healthcare costs and housing, or a more prepared labor market where low-wage workers have access housing near public transit to be better connected to available jobs.

Goal 1: Supply

The first goal of the Affordable Housing Master Plan, that Arlington "shall have an adequate supply of housing available to meet community needs", recognizes the need to produce new housing and preserve the affordability of existing housing. While balancing preservation and redevelopment can be challenging, Arlington County’s leadership understands both strategies are critical to maintaining Arlington’s unique history and character while supporting its economic growth and vibrancy. The rehabilitation of Culpepper Garden, which provided low-income seniors the opportunity to continue to thrive in Arlington while also adding new committed affordable units (CAFs), highlights these priorities.

Helping Seniors Age-in-Place at Culpepper Garden

Culpepper Garden Apartments is an independent living facility for low-income seniors aged 62 years and older. In 2016, the County Board approved a $9.9 million Affordable Housing Investment Fund (AHIF) loan for the first substantial renovation to the property since it was originally built in 1975. Construction to the building began in Spring 2017 and tenants were temporarily relocated to other onsite units as improvements were made. As of today, several tenants have begun to move back to their newly refurbished units, and all will be able to move back by June 2020.

Ethel Starks was one of the first residents who moved temporarily while her apartment was renovated. Ms. Starks is 91 years old and has lived in Arlington County for 65 years. She originally moved to Culpepper Garden in October 2013, downsizing from a single-family home. Now that she has moved back to her original apartment, Ms. Starks is delighted with the new walk-in shower and bathroom fixtures, kitchen cabinets and appliances, all new finishes and much brighter lighting. She can now regulate the temperature in her apartment and looks forward to having washers and dryers just down the hall on every floor.

As an added benefit, when Ms. Starks signed her new lease, she learned that with a new HUD rental voucher, she will be paying less of her very modest income on rent. Ms. Starks will be able to continue to age in her community with the help of renovated age-appropriate housing, onsite medical visits, resident services and support from the home health agency.

Goal 2: Access

Housing supply alone does not address all the community’s housing needs. Additional barriers can result in families and individuals not being able to access housing, and low-income individuals and families are also particularly vulnerable to displacement. Through a range of strategies, Arlington supports residents and families from all walks of life to thrive and contribute to their neighborhoods. One resident shares the story of successfully accessing supports to enable him to achieve housing stability.

Preventing Homelessness through Wraparound Services

Mr. DW is a veteran of the U.S. Army and has lived in Arlington for many years, but, after struggling with personal and medical issues, wound up at the Residential Program Center (RPC) in early 2018. Coupled with these challenges, Mr. DW had high housing barriers due to rent payment delinquencies with a previous landlord. Despite these challenges, he entered the shelter optimistic that he would be able to get back on his feet.

When Mr. DW first entered the shelter, he met with a case manager, who encouraged him to contact SSI to retrieve a current award letter, connected him with a collection agent to help settle his previous rental amount, and helped Mr. DW submit a Rapid Re-Housing referral seeking assistance with paying off his arrears. His case manager also helped Mr. DW apply for the County’s Housing Grant program as well a committed affordable (CAF) rental unit. Mr. DW worked hard to meet all the shelter expectations and to achieve his housing goals.

After living at the RPC shelter for several months, Mr. DW’s case manager accompanied him to his lease signing at Clarendon Court Apartments in June 2018. Mr. DW is now living in a committed affordable (CAF) unit and has obtained a Housing Grant to help pay his rent. He has also begun paying off his previous debts and is in the process of getting his life back on track.

GOAL 3: Sustainability

In order to support long-term community stability, Arlington has developed policies to protect its investments in affordable housing. These include strategies to maintain physical stock, promote environmentally sustainable and transit oriented planning, ensure long term affordability and financial feasibility of its housing portfolio, and encourage housing goals to be integrated as part of other County plans and policies. The Berkeley is an example of the County’s commitment to ensuring that safe and decent housing is available to people and families regardless of their income.

Ensuring a Healthier Living Environment for Residents of The Berkeley

Originally built in 1961, The Berkeley was an aging committed affordable housing (CAF) complex that consisted of two four-story apartment buildings with 138 CAF units. Over the years, as the property aged, the buildings experienced significant capital needs including plumbing, mechanical and structural issues. Following a capital needs assessment in 2016, it was determined that the buildings had outlived their useful lives and that a redevelopment was needed.

In 2018, the Arlington County Board approved an investment through the County’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund (AHIF) to demolish the existing buildings, redeveloping the site into an apartment community that will include two five-story buildings with 256 apartments available to households earning between 40% and 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI). The new property will feature over 100 family-sized units and on-site community amenities, including garage parking, a community lounge, a fitness room, a playground and a sport court.

The County’s AHIF investment will not only increase the number of long-term CAF units within the I-395 corridor, but will also help to create a healthier and better living environment for existing Arlington County residents. The new buildings will be EarthCraft Gold, significantly improving energy-efficiency and indoor quality. The project developer will add pedestrian safety upgrades, including a rapid flashing beacon for a new crossing on Glebe Road. Additionally, the developer will make improvements to the Four Mile Run trail, which runs adjacent to the property, including widening it and adding public features.

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