PRESS RELEASE: ARHA Wins HUD Approval for First Three Property Conversions - Part of Long-Term Plan to Preserve Affordable Housing in Alexandria
Alison Burdo - 610.585.7626
ARHA Wins HUD Approval for First Three Property Conversions - Part of Long-Term Plan to Preserve Affordable Housing in Alexandria
These first approvals mean construction or rehab of more than 200 affordable units, with the remainder of ARHA portfolio yet to come
(Alexandria, VA – May 14, 2021) – The Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority (ARHA) has won approval from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to convert three sites from public housing funding to Housing Choice Voucher funding, kicking off plans to redevelop all of the agency’s public housing properties.
Funding for vouchers is significantly higher than public housing subsidies, and the approvals represent a major step in accomplishing ARHA’s ambitious redevelopment activity.
By using changes in HUD funding, ARHA is laying the foundation for the agency to ultimately upgrade and sustain its entire 754 units of public housing, plus build new workforce and market rate housing.
The first three properties approved for conversion are Ladrey High-Rise, Park Place, and Saxony Square, a total of 213 units. The rents at other public housing sites will be converted through the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program, again changing the funding source from public housing to an increased funding stream.
“These tools will increase the cash flow at each site,” said ARHA CEO Keith Pettigrew. “There is a tremendous backlog of maintenance at public housing communities across the nation, including Alexandria, and these conversions will allow us to catch up, stay ahead and ensure that our residents live in high-quality, well-maintained buildings.”
These subsidy changes result from a 2018 HUD policy allowing housing authorities to change the funding stream and work under less restrictive regulations for a portion of their public housing units.
Through two programs called Section 18 and RAD, ARHA expects to convert 504 current public housing units to higher funding rates. When that milestone is reached, the remaining 250 units will automatically be approved for Housing Choice vouchers, clearing the way for the entire public housing portfolio in Alexandria to be funded under this higher formula. Importantly, ARHA will retain ownership of these properties through its own nonprofit subsidiary.
“The outstanding facet of this subsidy conversion is that tenant protections will remain in place,” Pettigrew said. “Tenant share of rent will not change, and our mission of serving poor and extremely poor households will be strengthened. Our goal is to preserve housing for vulnerable populations and improve the quality of life for our current residents.”
Higher operating subsidies will allow ARHA to rebuild each property more aggressively. At each redeveloped site, ARHA will be able to provide amenity spaces and a management office, and ensure strengthening the social fabric of a community is an integral part of the redevelopment.
“Redevelopment is not just about brick and mortar. Our goal is to ensure that, as an agency, ARHA invests in the personal development of each resident and assists them in reaching their individual goals,” according to the plan approved by the ARHA Board of Commissioners.
Plans for each site will include a mix of incomes. The recently completed construction on the property of the former Ramsey Homes, built in 1942, to the new Lineage at North Patrick exemplifies the approach that ARHA and its partners can take on any site.
The Lineage transformed 15 public housing units into 52 affordable units in a beautiful new building. The building includes 15 replacement units for low-income households and adds 37 more affordable units for workforce households. Pettigrew notes there is no difference in accommodations whether a household earns $17,000 a year or $70,000.
“Once our board embraced this agenda, we held seven community meetings to explain our plan to residents,” Pettigrew said. “With these first three HUD approvals and more to come, our plans are quickly becoming a reality. Our partners in the city’s housing office and the community at large can look forward to seeing ARHA play a leadership role in a market in desperate need of affordable housing.”
For over 80 years, the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority has provided affordable housing, economic opportunities, and a suitable living environment free from discrimination for the citizens of Alexandria. Our mission is to be an industry leader in the development and management of model mixed income communities that provide the opportunity for residents to achieve self-sufficiency and to participate in economic opportunities that are made possible through this model. To learn more, visit http://www.arha.us/.