City Receives 2021 ULI Larson Award
The City of Alexandria was honored by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) with its Robert C. Larson Housing Policy Leadership Award (https://americas.uli.org/211007larsonawards/). The Larson Award recognizes “exemplary state and local programs, policies, and practices that support the production, rehabilitation, or preservation of workforce and affordable housing.” In selecting Alexandria, ULI acknowledged the City’s residential multifamily (RMF) zone (http://legistar.granicus.com/alexandria/meetings/2019/2/1915_M_City_Council_Public_Hearing_19-02-23_Action_Docket.pdf) as an effective tool to incentivize the production or preservation of deeply affordable housing in exchange for the provision of density.
The 2019 amendment to Alexandria’s zoning ordinance that created the RMF zone resulted from the South Patrick Street Housing Affordability Strategy (https://www.alexandriava.gov/uploadedFiles/planning/info/SPatrickStHousingStrategy101318.pdf), a community planning process undertaken jointly in 2018 by the Department of Planning and Zoning and the Office of Housing to identify tools, strategies and resources for the preservation of more than 200 existing units of deeply affordable housing at risk of loss due to expiring federal housing assistance contracts and real estate market pressures that make replacement of multifamily development with by-right townhome development a feasible alternative.
Planning Director Karl Moritz and Housing Director Helen McIlvaine accepted the award on the City’s behalf at the ULI annual conference. A local ceremony to recognize funder Virginia Housing as well as City staff who worked on the Housing Strategy and the RMF zone, which culminated in the national award-winning initiative is planned.
The City of Alexandria hosted a virtual public meeting to gather community input on housing discrimination, barriers to housing access, and fair housing issues in Alexandria on December 9. The meeting featured a presentation by the Urban Institute on existing housing and demographic conditions in Alexandria and included breakout rooms where participants could discuss specific housing issues related to fair housing and how they and their community are affected by them. Information gathered at the public meeting will be incorporated into the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments’ Regional Housing Equity Plan, which will help direct federal funds in ways to make housing more equitable and accessible to individuals and families in Alexandria and our neighboring jurisdictions.
City Releases Draft Citizen Participation Plan for Housing and Community Development for public comment
The City of Alexandria's Draft Citizen Participation Plan for Housing and Community Development (“Participation Plan”) is now available for public comment. Persons wishing to comment on the Draft Participation Plan may do so either in writing and/or by providing testimony at the regular public hearing of the City Council on December 18, beginning at 9:30 a.m. in the City Council Chamber, 301 King St., Alexandria, VA 22314. The Participation Plan is a document that provides for, and encourages, public participation and which emphasizes participation by persons of low- or moderate-income, particularly residents of predominantly low- and moderate-income neighborhoods in the allocation process of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds, Home Investment Partnerships Program (HOME) funds, Section 108 loan funds, and any other housing and community funds appropriated to the City by HUD. Written comments may be sent or delivered to the Office of Housing or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Written comments will be accepted beginning Tuesday, October 12, 2021 until 5 p.m. on Monday, November 15, 2021.
HUD Secretary Fudge, Congressman Beyer, and Mayor Wilson Visit The Spire
On August 13, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Marcia Fudge, Congressman Don Beyer (VA-08), and Mayor Justin Wilson visited The Spire, as part of a larger discussion about the nationwide affordable housing crisis. “We are one of the wealthiest jurisdictions in the world, and certainly in America, one of the best educated, and yet there are still many people struggling and living in poverty among us,” said Beyer. “Thank goodness we are choosing as a community to use our resources to invest in housing and other services for these people.”
In Alexandria, The Spire is one of a half-dozen newly built affordable housing developments. The City is working to meet both its Housing Master Plan target of 2,000 committed affordable rental apartments by 2025, as well as its portion of the 2030 regional housing goal set by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, which would require production or preservation of an additional 2,250 affordable and workforce level homes. While this will not meet all the affordable housing needs in the City, it represents an acceleration of the City’s historical rate of affordable housing production.
After touring The Spire’s community spaces and an accessible two-bedroom unit, officials provided remarks on the project and highlighted the Biden administration’s Build Back Better Agenda. As part of this recovery initiative, the creation of two million new affordable and low-income homes is proposed, along with expanding financial resources, including private investment through the low-income housing tax credit program, to support the goal. “Low-income and affordable housing was a problem before COVID, but it is even a bigger problem now,” observed Fudge. “There is no place in this country today where a person making minimum wage can afford to rent a two-bedroom apartment. We know, we hear, and we understand what’s happening in this country. And I want to thank everybody who had anything to do with this project.”
“It was an honor to welcome Secretary Fudge to Alexandria and have the opportunity to highlight a project that demonstrates the value of community partnerships,” added Mayor Wilson. “Affordable housing continues to be a priority for the City and is integral for the success of our community as a whole.”
The Spire opened its doors to residents this spring, seven years after its inception. In 2014, the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection generously offered nonprofit housing developer, AHC Inc., a parcel of their property as part of their commitment to expanding housing affordability for neighbors in the Alexandria community. Located in the Beauregard neighborhood, The Spire’s 113 apartments offer affordable homes to households with incomes ranging from 30% to 60% of the area median income.
“We are so grateful that Secretary Fudge, Congressman Beyer, and Mayor Wilson came to The Spire to discuss this critical issue that affects so many in our community,” said Interim AHC CEO Susan Cunningham. “We hope projects like The Spire encourage other communities to join together to create affordable housing and pave a way forward for families in need.”
2022 - 2026 Broad-Based 5-Year Environmental Review
On September 9, 2021, the City of Alexandria submitted a request to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for release of federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds under Title I of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974 (Public Law 93-383), as amended, and the HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME) funds under Title II of the National Affordable Housing Act of 1990, as amended, for program years July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2026, to undertake projects as described in the Broad-Based 5-Year Environmental Review Project Description. The Broad-Based 5-Year Environmental Review and Project Description are hyperlinked.
City Undertakes Study on Co-Living
City Submits to HUD the 2022-2026 Consolidated Plan and 2022 Action Plan
The City's Five-Year Consolidated Plan for the period July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2025 and One-Year Action Plan for the period July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022 for Housing and Community Development were approved by City Council on May 25, 2021. The Plans have been submitted to the Department of Housing and Urban Development for final approval.
The Five-Year Consolidated Plan is a comprehensive planning document that identifies the housing and community development needs of the City of Alexandria’s extremely low-to moderate-income, homeless and special needs populations, as well as of any target areas identified by the City, and outlines strategies for addressing the needs of these groups and/or designated areas over a five-year period. The One-Year Action Plan describes actions to be taken during City FY 2022 to meet housing and community development needs identified in the City's Five-Year Consolidated Plan and serves as the City's application for HUD Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2021 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds and Home Investment Partnerships Program (HOME) funds. For more information, please contact Kim Cadena at email@example.com or 703.746.3104.
- Resident Summary (updated May 3, 2021)
Public Hearing Held on Draft FY2021 Consolidated Annual Performance and Evaluation Report (CAPER)
The City of Alexandria held a public hearing on September 2, 2021 during the regular (virtual) meeting of the Alexandria Housing Affordability Advisory Committee (AHAAC) for the purpose of obtaining public comments on the Draft Consolidated Annual Performance and Evaluation Report (CAPER) for the recently completed City Fiscal Year (FY) 2021. For more information, please contact Kim Cadena, Office of Housing, at 703.746.3104.
Fair Housing Certification Training Held for Property Management and Real Estate Professionals
The Landlord-Tenant Relations Board and the Office of Housing hosted a virtual training opportunity to property management and real estate professionals. The free informative and interactive three-hour seminar was taught by Mahalia “Mally” Dryden-Mason, Fair Housing Training Specialist on source of income protections which became effective in Virginia in July 2020. The seminar met the requirements for real estate continuing and post license education, and fair housing certification.
Ramsey Homes Symposium
The Ramsey Homes Symposium on Historic Preservation, Community, and Architecture of Public Housing in Alexandria was held virtually on February 11, 2011. The symposium discussed the innovative construction of the World War II era Ramsey Homes and their African American residents. Originally built as temporary housing for African American war industry workers in the 1940s, the homes later served as permanent affordable housing for Alexandria residents for 65 years. Symposium panelists explored the history of public housing, genealogy of early residents, and the building’s unique construction and place in architectural history. The symposium concluded with a virtual experience of the new Lineage community on North Patrick Street. Recordings of final two sessions can be accessed here.
City Receives 2020 Audrey Nelson Community Development Award
The City of Alexandria’s Office of Housing was awarded the National Community Development Association’s (NCDA) prestigious Audrey Nelson Community Development Achievement Award for its support of the construction of The Bloom/Carpenter’s Shelter. The project, an innovative partnership between the Alexandria Housing Development Corporation (AHDC) and Carpenter’s Shelter, colocates 97 units of affordable housing with a shelter that can accommodate up to sixty individuals experiencing homelessness. Ten of the affordable units are designated as permanent supportive housing for persons exiting homelessness. The property also features a playground, three outdoor terraces, a 1,600 square foot food production garden, and TransitScreen technology, along with a modernized day shelter, David's Place, and winter shelter.
AHDC was offered the opportunity to obtain the air rights above Carpenter’s Shelter property in exchange for building a new shelter. The development of The Bloom was funded by Low Income Housing Tax Credit equity, Virginia Housing loan funds, City of Alexandria Housing Trust Fund, federal Home Investment Partnerships Program funding, and additional loans from the City of Alexandria. The Bloom was also the first development in Alexandria to receive Virginia and National Housing Trust Fund awards in 2018.
This project is an example of how federal funding administered through local governments can support innovative partnerships between diverse kinds of housing organizations to the benefit of all. Working together, AHDC and Carpenter’s Shelter have created a unique development that provides housing for low-income families, as well as emergency shelter and supportive services for those experiencing homelessness.
In 2018, the City of Alexandria, Community Lodgings, Inc. (CLI), and HomeAid of Northern Virginia were awarded the Audrey Nelson Community Development Achievement Award for their collaboration the substantial renovation of CLI’s multifamily building located at 607 Notabene Drive.
On January 28, 2020 the Alexandria-based Alexandria Housing Development Corporation (AHDC) purchased Parkstone Alexandria (formerly called Avana Alexandria Apartments), a 326-unit rental property at 3001 Park Center Drive. Made possible through an innovative partnership among AHDC, JBG SMITH’s Washington Housing Initiative Impact Pool, the Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA), and the City of Alexandria, the acquisition of the property will help preserve and expand an important affordable and workforce housing resource to support the City’s and region’s growing labor force.
AHDC’s plan will make 130 units at the property affordable to households with incomes up to 60% of the area median income (AMI) (equal to approximately $51,000 for a household of one and $73,000 for a household of four). In addition, 114 units will become affordable to households with incomes up to 80% AMI (equal to approximately $68,000 for a household of one and $97,000 for a household of four). It is estimated that approximately 15,000 low- and moderate-income renter households in Alexandria spend more than 30% of their gross household income on housing and face challenges paying for necessities, such as groceries, daycare and healthcare, building savings, and investing in education (ACS 2013-2017 5-Year Estimates). The remaining 82 apartments at Parkstone will continue to rent at market rates. Income restrictions on the building will be phased in over time, and no current tenants will be displaced.
The project would not have been possible without a complex layering of funding. JBG SMITH is providing a $15.1 million mezzanine loan from its Impact Pool, the financing component of JBG SMITH’s Washington Housing Initiative. The Initiative is a transformational market-driven approach to preserve and create affordable workforce housing throughout the DC metropolitan region. The Initiative’s focus is on “the missing middle“, i.e., households who earn too much for traditional rental assistance, but who still struggle to pay for housing.
The purchase also represents the first use of a new financing tool offered by the Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA) as part of its commitment to invest in housing infrastructure in response to Amazon’s decision to locate HQ2 in Northern Virginia. As part of its dedication of $15 million per year for five years to help Northern Virginia jurisdictions meet housing challenges related to economic development, VHDA provided $5 million in grant funds to preserve Parkstone at the City’s request. VHDA is also providing a senior loan of $82.5 million for the project. An $8 million City of Alexandria loan completes the funding package.
Mayor Justin Wilson noted that “AHDC’s plan reflects Alexandria’s deep commitment to enhancing and preserving affordable housing, community diversity and economic sustainability, and it showcases the type of creative financing and partnerships envisioned by our Housing Master Plan."
“We Believe Your Past Does Not Define Your Future"
Friends of Guest House, an established Alexandria nonprofit that helps formerly incarcerated women reenter the community, celebrated the opening of its second residential program in October 2019. With contributions from HomeAid Northern Virginia, Craftmark Homes, and a $145,000 loan from the City’s Housing Trust Fund, Friends of Guest House renovated a former office building in Old Town expanding the organization’s capacity by 20 percent (from 26 to 31 participants) and consolidating several of its scattered units. In addition to new living spaces, the site features an on-site computer lab, counseling areas, and accessible accommodations. Since its founding in 1974, Friends of Guest House has helped more than 4,000 women through an intensive and supportive six-month program break the cycle of incarceration, reunite with their families, and reintegrate into their communities and the workforce.
Amazon.com, Inc, announced on November 13 that it has chosen Arlington County to establish a major new headquarters. Arlington and the City of Alexandria, after working together for the last year in a unique and unprecedented regional partnership, are announcing that Amazon will locate in National Landing, a newly branded neighborhood encompassing parts of Pentagon City and Crystal City in Arlington and Potomac Yard in Alexandria. The Commonwealth’s announcement also includes news of a new partnership with Virginia Tech to develop a revolutionary Innovation Campus to fill demand for high-tech talent in National Landing and beyond. Click here to learn more. Please also see the links below to learn about the City's housing response.
A seminar on how National Landing may impact the City's housing market was held on April 16 at the Charles Houston Recreation Center. Click here to download the presentations by Jeannette Chapman, Deputy Director and Senior Research Associate at The Stephen S. Fuller Institute at George Mason University and Helen McIlvaine, Director of the Office of Housing at the City of Alexandria.
Learn about opportunities to participate in the Arlandria-Chirilagua Plan Update! Click here to learn more.
Rooftop Roots Urban Gardens at The Station at Potomac Yard in the News!
In partnership with Rooftop Roots, the Alexandria-based affordable housing developer, AHDC, advanced its community gardening program in response to a 2017 resident survey which identified “health and wellness” as an important resident service. With the assistance from 72 Spring2ACTion donors, AHDC was able to finance the conversion of the Station at Potomac Yard’s rooftop terrace garden from a bucket-based system to one with four raised planter beds dramatically increasing production capacity. Once a week during the growing season, harvested vegetables go directly to residents along with a recipe card. Events such as “movies and smoothies” nights demonstrate the versatility of the vegetables, and community classes turn simple ingredients into nutritious meals. AHDC plans to continue to expand this program; once construction has been completed, AHDC will install gardens at Lacy Court and The Bloom (the former Carpenter’s Shelter). Click here to view the news clip.