First taking a moment to savor victory, supporters of the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH) on Oct. 6 then looked toward some heavy lifting in the not-so-distant future: Implementation of the county government’s affordable-housing blueprint.
“Now that the Affordable Housing Master Plan has passed, the real work begins,” cautioned Robert Rozen, board chair of APAH, during the organization’s annual fund-raising celebration.
The housing plan may have passed, but how to pay for the goals it espouses remains very much an open question.
“It’s important that everyone stay involved,” said Rozen, speaking before nearly 400 people at the Clarendon Ballroom. The event raised $430,000 to support the non-profit housing organization.
County Board members voted unanimously to pass the housing plan, which APAH president Nina Janopaul said proved Arlington’s “values of being a diverse and inclusive community.”
“APAH is ready to do its part,” said Janopaul, noting that the organization has four housing projects, totaling 750 units, on the near horizon.
“They represent years of work and community input,” she said.
At the celebration, the housing organization honored developer Mark Silverwood of the Silverwood Cos. and attorney Bill Fogarty of Walsh, Colucci, Lubeley & Walsh PC for their long-term commitment to housing issues in the county.
Fogarty has been “the steady guide . . . from the earliest days . . . the steady hand,” said John Milliken, vice chairman of the APAH board.
Fogarty, whose involvement with the housing group dates back more than two decades, echoed Rozen’s call for community involvement going forward.
“Your financial support is vital – and your voice is equally vital,” he said.
Milliken described Silverwood as “one of the few private developers who has gone the extra distance and made his mark on affordable housing.”
In remarks, Silverwood noted the need to support new arrivals, much as his own ancestors from Italy, Germany and Sweden found a home in the U.S.
The development community, he said, “must keep up the fight for equitable housing.”
Getting a spotlight moment at the celebration was Allyson Suria, a 19-year-old Washington-Lee High School graduate and current Marymount University student who came to the U.S. from El Salvador at the age of 4.
Despite having to move across Arlington 11 times as the family dodged ever-increasing rents, Suria was able to find success academically.
“I was very determined to be an exemplary student,” she said. “I quickly became, I don’t know, an overachiever.”
Suria’s family currently lives in APAH’s Buchanan Gardens apartment complex, which has provided much-needed stability, she said.
“We consider ourselves a part of the Barcroft community,” Suria said. “Because I have a stable home . . . I’m able to succeed in school.”
APAH was founded in 1989 by four couples with deep roots in Arlington – Dolores and Thomas Leckey, Rhoda and William Nary, Jean and Jack Sweeney and Midge and Joe Wholey – aiming to provide both housing and supportive services to those of low and moderate incomes.
The founders “saw a need and, as is often the case in our society, gathered together to meet that need,” Milliken said.
Working exclusively in Arlington, the organization owns, develops and preserves rental communities for individuals and families earning approximately $20,000 to $60,000 per year.