Preserving affordable housing for years to come
Preserving affordable housing in a sought-after community like Arlington requires effort and commitment. As high demand drives up prices, many lower-income residents are squeezed out of a tight rental market. In the best cases, we are able to preserve affordable housing, keep people in their homes and dramatically improve properties. That was the case with Buchanan Gardens, thanks to an agreement between the County and the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH).
One of Arlington’s aging garden apartments, Buchanan Gardens was built in 1949 to provide housing for wartime workers migrating to the metropolitan region. When APAH purchased the 11-building complex in 2009, it was in poor repair and had been cited for major code violations and safety hazards.
A completely renovated Buchanan Gardens opened in September 2012. Residents were relocated temporarily as construction was completed, and as a result, APAH was able to retain nearly 70 percent of the original residents. They returned to a much improved apartment complex with new energy-efficient systems, a community room and a playground.
Some of the two-bedroom units were enlarged to three bedrooms to accommodate the need for more family-sized units. The complex also contains 12 units that are wheelchair-accessible and barrier-free, providing housing for disabled residents. Through a partnership with Greenbrier Learning Center, APAH offers an after-school enrichment program for students in second through fifth grades.
This affordable housing in Arlington’s Barcroft neighborhood might otherwise have been converted to market-rate units and the residents living in them displaced. Instead, APAH will keep all 111 apartment units affordable for 60 years. The units are available to moderate-and low-income tenants making up to 60 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI), approximately $52,000 in 2015 for a two-person household and $65,000 for a family of four.
APAH, a non-profit affordable housing developer, was founded in 1989 to develop affordable housing in Arlington. Today, they own and operate 14 properties serving just over 1,200 Arlington families.
“We feel like the need for affordable housing is pretty great in Arlington,” said APAH CEO Nina Janopaul. “We look at any opportunity to partner with the County and with private partners. It’s getting harder and harder to preserve affordable housing in Arlington because of increasing land costs and the scarcity of land.”
The $32 million project to renovate Buchanan Gardens was funded in part by a $7.1 million loan from Arlington County’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund (AHIF) and Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) administered by the Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA). Capital One provided the construction loan and Enterprise Community Partners was the equity investor.
APAH also partners with local organizations to provide ongoing services. These include the County’s Department of Human Services, Community Residences, Inc., Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network (A-SPAN), Doorways for Women and Families and Greenbrier Learning Center.
Learn more about affordable housing in Arlington.