Morning Notes

Two ARHA residents receive $6,000 college scholarships — “Two Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority (ARHA) residents have been awarded $6,000 scholarships for the upcoming school year, thanks to the Resident Scholarship Program from the Housing Authority Insurance (HAI) Group. This is the second consecutive year Natasha Cross has been selected for the funding… Yonael Tekleberhan, a senior at Virginia Commonwealth University majoring in Business is the second awardee.” [ARHA]

The Italian Place is opening a location in Fairfax — “We are getting closer and closer to the grand opening on July 24th of the new Mosaic District location. 🤩 If you haven’t registered yet, head over to our website to do so! We hope to see you all there!” [Facebook]

Del Ray Citizens Association hosting community pizza party Thursday — Come on out and join us this Thursday July 22 from 5 – 7pm at Del Ray Pizzeria, where the DRCA will be hosting a Del Ray Citizens Association Meet & Greet Pizza Party! Hang out with your fellow Del Ray superfans and enjoy some pizza, salad, tots, fries, and special happy hour pricing. DRP has set us up in the bar space, so we can enjoy some much-needed air conditioning. For those who may feel more comfortable socializing outdoors, we’re also working to set up a ‘spillover’ table in the Lot behind the restaurant.” [DRCA]

Park and recreation center signs replaced — “The signs at Ruby Tucker Park, Fort Williams Park, and Mt. Vernon Recreation Center were replaced with City standard signs last week. The signs were replaced to update addresses or broken and missing signs. Look out for new signs coming to Shirley Tyler Unity Park and William Ramsay Recreation Center coming this fall.” [Facebook]

Today’s weather — “Sunshine and some clouds (during the day). High 92F. Winds NW at 5 to 10 mph… Considerable clouds early (in the evening). Some decrease in clouds late. Low 72F. Winds SSW at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]

New job: Package delivery driver — “UPS is accepting applications for temporary, seasonal full-time Package Delivery Drivers. This is a physical, fast-paced, outdoor position that involves continual lifting, lowering and carrying packages that typically weigh 25 – 35 lbs. and may weigh up to 70 lbs. A DOT physical exam is required. Package Delivery Drivers must have excellent customer contact and driving skills.” [Indeed]

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Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority’s (ARHA) newly released Annual Agency Plan outlines the public agencies ongoing efforts at modernization and acquisition of affordable units in Old Town, with a particular focus on being more involved in rental-assistance programs.

The plan outlines areas of change for the organization, with the organization required to explain new activities in the current fiscal year. This year, one of those categories involves changes in “Mixed Finance Modernization or Development”. In its explanation, the document explained that ARHA is continuing to work on demolition of older units under Housing and Urban Development code Section 18 and rental assistance demonstration — rental assistance that ensures existing low-income units remain affordable — of others.

“To date, the repositioning has resulted in HUD Section 18 approval of 213 units (Ladrey, Park and Saxony). ARHA has received CHAPS for the RAD conversion of 220 units (James Bland I, James Bland II, Old Dominion, West Glebe, Chatham Square and BWR),” ARHA said. “The goal is to reposition as many properties as possible over the next five years so that ARHA can voluntarily convert its portfolio of units when there are less than 250 remaining public housing units. ARHA is implementing the repositioning policy consistent with HUD rules requiring that tenant protections remain in place and that tenant share of rent will not change beyond the current 30% of household income.”

The documents also noted that ARHA has selected 11 potential development partners to increase the overall number of affordable units by making units available to households earning between 30-60% of area median income.

The next big project for ARHA will be the redevelopment of the Ladrey building that will replace the existing units with units kept affordable through housing vouchers in addition to other residential development.

“In 2021, the Board of Commissioners will issue a redevelopment opportunity for the combined site of the existing Ladrey building together with the adjacent former ARHA site,” ARHA said. “The goal is to construct a multifamily building to house the existing 170 units at Ladrey by converting the units to project-based vouchers (HUD has approved the Section 18 reposition for this property) and add additional affordable and market rate units. The building will have an onsite management office, amenity space for use by all the residents, underground parking and units that meet current building codes.”

In the annual plan, ARHA said the push for more rental assistance can offer more flexibility and can supplement the public housing with project-based vouchers — units where residents pay some costs and ARHA makes up the remaining difference in utility and rental costs.

“Through the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program, ARHA will continue to own its properties and provide its residents with expanded choices and opportunities,” the public agency said. “ARHA will also have the ability to evaluate and immediately address many needed capital improvements and will continue to serve the same population. The RAD program offers ARHA an opportunity to transition from its current public housing funding platform to a more stable, predictable and sustainable funding source, the Project-based Voucher (PBV) program, which will be administered by the ARHA. The same families who are eligible today for public housing will be eligible for the PBV program.”

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The CEO of the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority says that significant changes in federal funding will lay the foundation to redevelop all of its public housing sites in the style of the recently unveiled Lineage development.

ARHA recently announced that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will convert the 213 units at three sites — Ladrey High-Rise, Park Place, and Saxony Square — from public housing funding to Housing Choice Voucher funding.

Mayor Justin Wilson said that characterizing the financing of ARHA’s properties has been years in the making.

“This gives us more flexibility in the future and makes it easier to refresh, redevelop and expand our public housing stock,” Wilson said.

Rents will not go up at the properties, although plans for each site include a mix of incomes, and “ultimately upgrade and sustain its entire 754 units of public housing, plus build new workforce and market rate housing,” ARHA said in a release.

ARHA expects to convert 504 affordable units at higher funding rates using HUD’s Rental Assistance Demonstration funds, as well as HUD’s Section 18 authorization, which okays the demolition of public housing properties for redevelopment. After that happens, the remaining 250 units will then “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,” ARHA said. “Importantly, ARHA will retain ownership of these properties through its own nonprofit subsidiary.”

ARHA CEO Keith Pettigrew told ALXnow that the Lineage development was a springboard for the organization, in terms of what its other properties will look like in the future.

The Lineage met with controversy over concerns of increased density, as 52 affordable units (with 37 units for workforce housing) replaced the 15 public housing units that previously stood for decades at the Ramsey Homes site in Old Town. The project was made possible by tax credit financing and a $2 million loan from the city.

“Sustainability and affordability, go together hand-in-hand now in these days and times,” Pettigrew said. “I think it’s a win-win for everybody. The reality is I’m quite sure that somebody would love to see a brand new building next to them as opposed to what they’re looking at now, right?”

Pettigrew said he is conscious of concerns over gentrification in the city, and that rent will not increase and residents will not be displaced in the event of redevelopment or construction..

“With Alexandria growing the way it’s growing, you got Amazon coming and you’ve got Virginia Tech coming, that’s going to be bringing a lot of people,” he said. “The reality is, we want to make sure that we take advantage of all that, by still maintaining our public housing numbers. That’s the goal.”

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Morning Notes

T.C. Williams completes comeback to win school’s first volleyball state championship — “For a moment, T.C. Williams sophomore Milan Rex was scared. The Titans were trailing Kellam two sets to one in the Virginia Class 6 championship Friday in Alexandria, and the chance at a perfect season seemed to be fading. Coach A.J. DeSain reminded the Titans they belonged in this moment, enabling Rex to lock in. She then powered T.C. Williams to a 23-25, 25-19, 18-25, 25-19, 17-15 victory — the program’s first state title. [Washington Post]

Mayor Wilson defends donation from Planning Commission Chair — “Planning Commission Chair Nathan Macek gave Wilson a donation the day after Wilson voted with the majority of council to reappoint Macek to his post. Macek’s employer, the engineering firm WSP, has played a leading role in numerous large projects in Alexandria, including the under-construction Potomac Yard Metro.” [Alex Times]

ACPS shifting to three-foot distancing in classrooms — “With our work to reconfigure our classrooms to three feet of physical distance between students, we will have all classrooms reconfigured and our strategy to accommodate lunch by April 26 which will allow us to transition more students after April 27. Read more about the planning and implementation process below.” [ACPS]

Alexandria Police hang out with ARHA residents — “We had a great time spending time with the Princess Square community this morning. Our officers had fun on the playground with the kids. Thank you ARHA for inviting us to stop by.” [Twitter]

Inova Landmark named ‘Deal of 2020’ by Washington Business Journal — “I constantly hear ‘I’ll believe it when I see it.’ … But the hard part is done. It was about assembling the right players and having the will to get it done.” [Washington Business Journal]

Wilson, Chapman, Aguirre, McPike and Gaskins gets rush of endorsements — “The decisions to be made are tough and require bold, consensus-building leadership. We are encouraged by the number of candidates stepping forward to run for City Council and Mayor this year. We think there are some in particular that stand out as ready to lead us through the recovery.” [Alexandria Forward]

Handgun and animal bones found in Potomac River cleanup — “There was an interesting discovery during an Earth Day river clean-up along the Alexandria waterfront today. A handgun and what were determined to be animal bones were found. The weapon was determined to be many years old. Thank you for calling APD!” [Facebook]

Today’s weather — “Sunny skies (during the day). High 67F. Winds NW at 10 to 15 mph… Clear to partly cloudy (in the evening). Low 47F. Winds SSE at 5 to 10 mph.”  [Weather.com]

New job: Worship producer — “The Worship Producer supports the communications ministry at Aldersgate United Methodist Church (AUMC). As part of the staff team, the Producer will design and create video and media content for in-person and online worship (which may also be used for marketing and promotional purposes) and will be responsible for online streaming of Sunday morning worship. The Producer, assisted by other church leaders, will build a video ministry volunteer team to assist them in designing, creating, and sharing content video content for the church.” [Indeed]

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Four years of development came to a close Tuesday as the Alexandria Redevelopment Housing Authority cut the ribbon on Lineage, a 52-unit affordable apartment complex at the former Ramsey Homes site in Old Town.

“It’s about helping people that need affordable housing, and that’s the passion of mine, given that I’m a product of public housing,” ARHA CEO Keith Pettigrew said, adding that he thought the project would be easy when he started his job four years ago. “I was led to believe that Ramsey was easy, but it was anything but easy, and being in this industry for as long as I have I should have known better, but I didn’t.”

ARHA was awarded tax credit financing for the project at 625 N Patrick Street in 2017, and also received a $2 million loan from the city.

The four-story apartment building includes 15 homes for city residents earning up to 30% of the area median income ($25,500 for a household of one to $36,400 for a household of four) and 37 new units to households earning up to 50% and 60% AMI. It is located across the street from the Charles Houston Recreation Center and the Alexandria Black History Museum.

Mayor Justin Wilson said approval of the project was not easy, running the gamut from community concerns over historic preservation and open space to density and housing.

“This was not easy at all,” Wilson said. “The struggle is worth it for 52 families who now have a place to live.”

Lineage resident Maria Ledbetter says she’s sleeping better.

“I really, really love my apartment,” Ledbetter said. We have really nice appliances, a very nice view from the window, and I’m sleeping very well at night. I think you really came through with this development.”

The property was first developed as permanent housing for 15 Black defense workers and their families during World War II. The 15 units were redeveloped into the new Lineage project, which added 37 new units to the city’s affordable housing inventory. The new apartments range from 323 to 1,301 square feet. Each apartment includes a washer and drier, heating and air conditioning and “hardwood-style” flooring.

“This was a hard-fought victory for housing advocates and those who care about affordability in the city,” said City Councilman John Taylor Chapman.

Alexandria is currently experiencing an affordable housing crisis, and the city has pledged to produce or develop 2,000 affordable housing units by 2025. The city has also agreed to produce an additional 1,950 units by 2030 in order to meet its regional housing goal set by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, which aims for the region to produce 320,000 affordable housing units.

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It was a historic week in Alexandria. Here are some of the highlights.

President Joe Biden visited the Neighborhood Health COVID-19 vaccine site at Virginia Theological Seminary on Tuesday, just before announcing that the date for adults to get access to the vaccine has been moved to April 19.

The Alexandria School Board, on Thursday night, voted to change the name of T.C. Williams High School to Alexandria City High School.

The School Board also voted unanimously to reduce the distancing requirement in ACPS schools from six feet to three feet, all the while community support is growing to expand in-person instruction to more than the current two days a week. Summer school is currently planned to begin in July and will be four days a week, and ACPS is planning on reopening to five days a week at the beginning of the next school year.

Our top story was on the T.C. Williams Titans junior varsity football team walking off the field after an incident with the Robinson Rams on Monday night. Robinson Rams players allegedly spit at and made a racial slur against T.C. players. The incident has prompted Fairfax County Public Schools to announce a “stand-down” meeting for all athletic teams and coaches to discuss “appropriate behaviors required to play sports in FCPS.”

Additionally, six Alexandria Police officers were placed on administrative duties after a chase suspect died while in custody. Police responded to a call for shots fired in the 800 block of North Patrick Street, and multiple buildings and vehicles were struck. The driver of the vehicle crashed on Interstate 295, and then jumped over an overpass barrier and fell more than 20 feet and was tased by police, arrested and later died.

Important Stories

Top Stories

  1. JUST IN: T.C. Williams JV football team walks off field after alleged racial slur, spitting incident
  2. BREAKING: Shots fired in Old Town leads to chase that ends in D.C.
  3. JUST IN: President Biden set to visit Alexandria vaccination site Tuesday
  4. National Park Service announces George Washington Parkway to go on a diet
  5. Neighborhood Health vaccinating thousands at sites in Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfax County
  6. JUST IN: Woman arrested after fight on King Street Metro station platform
  7. UPDATE: $8,500 reported stolen in terrifying West End robbery
  8. JUST IN: President Biden visits COVID-19 vaccine site at Virginia Theological Seminary
  9. COVID-19 update: Alexandria moves into vaccination phase 1C
  10. JUST IN: Six Alexandria Police officers put on administrative duties after chase suspect dies
  11. Fairfax County man arrested for three burglaries, released three days later

Have a safe weekend!

Photo via T.C. Williams Football Boosters/Facebook

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After a number of its Old Town properties were hit by bullets Tuesday night, the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority announced it is installing security cameras.

“We are installing cameras at our properties to send the signal that if you commit a crime at an ARHA site there’s a good chance a camera will capture it,” ARHA CEO Keith Pettigrew said in a statement. “During our regular virtual townhalls, residents raised their concerns. That’s when we decided to do two things, install more cameras and identify several residents at each property to join a committee to start sharing information with each other to improve their neighborhoods by getting more involved.”

Security cameras have now been installed in the areas of Samuel Madden, Hopkins-Tancel Courts and along Yale Drive. Pendleton Park and Chatham Square will soon follow. Additionally, ARHA said that security cameras were installed at Andrew Adkins and the Ladrey senior high-rise several years ago.

Alexandria Police Department has also agreed to install “resident police officers” in ARHA communities.

“The idea to expand camera coverage came out of a conversation with resident leaders,” Pettigrew said. “That led to a more formal resident safety committee, and they have been fantastic in working with us and Alexandria city leadership.”

There has been an uptick in shootings over the past year, and many occurred at or near ARHA properties, some of which are near the Braddock Road Metro Station. Last fall, Alexandria police asked for the public’s help in identifying suspects.

Lauren Dupina, president of the ARHA’s Princess Square neighborhood group in Old Town West, said that the work will bridge the gap between police and Black and brown communities.

“The cameras will definitely be another tool in helping keep crime down, as long as they work, and these are new camera systems so they should work,” Dupina said. “They will make residents feel safer and cause people with bad intentions to think twice.”

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A number of residents of the Ladrey Senior Highrise Apartments in Old Town received their second doses of the coronavirus vaccine on Saturday.

Delores Tyler was one of about 90 residents who got her second shot.

“I was nervous a little bit, but I said no, I’ll go ahead and take it,” Tyler said. “We also are so appreciative that they were able to come to us. It made it so convenient and now I feel safer.”

The first doses were administered last month to the residents in the complex, which is managed by the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority.

The shots were facilitated by the Alexandria Health Department and administered over the course of three hours by pharmacists from VanDorn Pharmacy in the Ladrey community room at 300 Wythe Street. Some residents who were hesitant to get the vaccine will be visited by the pharmacists to get inoculated over the next several weeks.

“I’ve known a couple people that had the virus, and they were saying how bad it was,” said resident Caroleather Brown. “I feel a little more comfortable going out now.”

ARHA CEO Keith Pettigrew thanked the health department for the help. The nonprofit is reportedly reaching out to seniors at its other sites on vaccination eligibility.

“We wanted our seniors at Ladrey vaccinated as quickly and conveniently as possible to ensure they are safe and protected,” said Pettigrew. “Since the beginning of the pandemic we have implemented several policies, including limiting the number of visitors allowed in the building, to minimize the risk of contracting the virus. This vaccination POD (point of dispensing) event was an extension of that policy. I feel grateful to our partners, and particularly Dr. Stephen Hearing, AHD’s Director, who helped us coordinate this service.”

Virginia is currently in Phase 1B, which allows anyone 65 and older to get prioritized for the vaccine. Also included are essential workers, such as police, fire and EMS officials, Alexandria City Public Schools staff and people ages 16 and older with underlying medical conditions.

In Alexandria, there is also a long waiting list for eligible residents to get vaccinated.

As of last Friday, 17,099 residents have received at least one dose and 5,799 residents have been fully vaccinated. Residents can pre-register for the COVID-19 vaccine in Alexandria here.

Photo via ARHA

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Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority reopened its waitlist for affordable housing in the city and within two days the organization said around 45,000 individuals had applied.

The surge in demand for affordable housing comes after months of job loss and high unemployment. Those numbers are gradually recovering, but are still significantly higher than pre-pandemic figures. The opening also comes after almost a decade of the organization sorting through a backlog.

ARHA said in a press release that it last opened its waiting list for one week in August 2011 and receiving 10,000 applications.

“People are hurting,” said ARHA CEO Keith Pettigrew. “I receive emails every day wanting to know if housing vouchers or ARHA housing is available. These are not just people who are out of work. These are primarily people who have jobs but can’t afford to live in Alexandria right now.”

ARHA said that of the 45,000 applications, approximately 32,000 were for ARHA administered units while 13,000 were for housing choice voucher programs — programs that help subsidize rents in privately owned homes.

Notably, the total number of applications includes those that will be disqualified for coming in at an income above ARHA levels.

“But even after that process, a very long waiting list will remain,” ARHA said.

ARHA is early in the process of redeveloping many properties, though some like the Andrew Adkins development have hit snags along the way even as nearby private developments move forward.

“In each case, the ARHA goal would be to include a one-for-one replacement of current units for low-income households and an equal number of new units for working families and market rate apartments,” the organization said. “The idea is to create sustainable developments where lower-income families live in the same communities as those with middle-class incomes.”

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The Alexandria Redevelopment & Housing Authority (ARHA) is opening the Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8) and Public Housing waitlists, according to a press release.

From Jan. 11-Jan. 13, Alexandrians can submit applications for public housing. due to the pandemic, ARHA will only accept applications electronically. Exceptions can be made for those who are disabled and unable to fill out applications electronically.

ARHA faced some criticism from residents early in the pandemic from threats of eviction for violating quarantine, though ultimately the resident association praised ARHA leadership for swift action and clear communication with local residents.

According to the ARHA website:

  • You must be at least 18 years of age to apply.
  • There are no fees for applying to ARHA’s wait lists.
  • Applications will be placed on the waiting list by preference, then by the date and time the application is submitted.
  • All information provided is subject to verification. Therefore, applying does not guarantee that the application will be accepted.
  • ARHA does not provide emergency housing.

Staff photo by James Cullum

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