For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Jennifer Owens, President & CEO
ARLINGTON, VA—December 5, 2019— In June, Amazon announced a $3 million donation to the Arlington Community Foundation to improve access to affordable housing and services for neighbors in need in Northern Virginia. Today, the Arlington Community Foundation released a plan to use the funds to create committed affordable apartments available for Arlington households with an annual income of $36,000 or less.
One million of Amazon’s $3 million donation will be immediately awarded to the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH) to make rents more affordable in 10 of the new apartment units currently being developed at the American Legion site on Washington Boulevard. An additional $1.7 million will be awarded via a request for information process opening later this month to affordable housing producers to create additional low-cost housing in Arlington for those in the lowest income bracket. The remaining $300,000 will be used over the next three years to help the Community Foundation and its partners pursue creative housing solutions, including underutilized financing mechanisms to increase housing production.
“The affordability crisis and rapid displacement of our diverse residents are the greatest threats to our community’s long-term health and viability,” says Community Foundation President and CEO Jennifer Owens. “Both the public and private sectors must continue to take urgent action to keep these neighbors from being priced out of the county.”
Less than 3 percent of the County’s designed committed affordable housing units are affordable to the 9,000 Arlington households that make less than $36,000 for a family of four. This income is just 30 percent of our area median income. Households with incomes this low are at imminent risk of displacement as the cost of living in Arlington continues to climb.
“This is an important time for all sectors to join together to pull in the same direction and make measurable progress,” said Alice Shobe, director of Amazon in the Community. “Amazon is deeply committed to playing a role in the success of local efforts to help people in need. We are encouraged by the momentum and hope others are inspired to join the effort.”
Housing affordability is one area the Arlington Community Foundation is addressing through its Shared Prosperity initiative, which brings together businesses, government, and nonprofits to prevent the displacement of Arlington’s lowest-income households.
“Our partnership with American Legion, to be named Terwilliger Place, will provide 160 new affordable apartments,” said Nina Janopaul, APAH’s President and CEO. “APAH appreciates Amazon’s generous contribution. Philanthropic and public funding will allow APAH to provide 18 apartments affordable to extremely low-income households, such as families living on minimum wage jobs in the local retail and service sector.”
In addition to creating additional affordable housing, the Shared Prosperity Initiative also aims to increase access to affordable child care and build workforce development pathways, with a goal of allowing low-income residents to reach their potential in a sustainable way.
“These individuals contribute to the social and cultural fabric of our community and to our workforce in important fields such as child and elder care, food service, property maintenance, and healthcare, yet they are not experiencing the prosperity of many others in our community,” said Arlington County Board Chair Christian Dorsey. “We are committed to an Arlington where all our residents thrive.”
According to Dorsey, the County Board is taking dramatic steps to help Arlington residents who earn less than 30 percent of the area’s median income. In its budget guidance for FY 2021, the board called for at least $3 million and up to $9 million in increases over the current level in Arlington’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund and asked for recommendations for how new funds can be used to support the housing needs of these lowest-income residents.
More information about the request for information process for affordable housing producers will be available by December 16 on the Arlington Community Foundation’s website at www.arlcf.org.
The Shared Prosperity Initiative is supported by national Shared Prosperity partners including Kresge Foundation, Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program, Urban Institute, and Living Cities. More information is available at www.arlcf.org/sharedprosperity
About Arlington Community Foundation
The Arlington Community Foundation was established in 1991 to serve as a permanent community endowment built by the gifts and charitable legacies of individuals, families and businesses for the betterment of Arlington County. As a grantmaker, convener and sponsor of special initiatives, the Community Foundation strives to strengthen local nonprofits, encourage better understanding of the needs of Arlingtonians, and address the most critical issues of our time to ensure that our community provides opportunity for everyone.
The mission of the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH) is to develop, preserve, and own quality, affordable places to live; to promote stability and opportunity for our residents; and to advocate with the people and communities we serve. Founded in 1989, APAH now helps more than 1,800 households live in stable, secure and affordable rental homes. APAH is working to bring more than 1,000 additional affordable apartments to the DC metro area over the next 5 years. Its recent project, Columbia Hills Apartments, was honored with both the ULI Washington Trends Award for Excellence in Affordable Housing and the Virginia Governor’s Award for Best Affordable Housing Project in 2019.
Additional Media Contacts:
Cheryl Ramp, APAH, 703.276.7444
Click here for the previous announcement of Amazon’s $3 million investment.