When Community Lodgings re-opens six affordable housing apartments after an extensive renovation, they added a bonus: The renovation included adding one additional two-bedroom unit at their 607 Notabene Drive property.
In a city where 14,000 households qualify for but are unable to attain affordable housing what difference does one more apartment make?
Plenty, said Helen McIlvaine, the Director of Housing for the City of Alexandria. “Every unit is important to us. That unit is an opportunity for a family who wants to be in this city to be here.” And, she added, that unit may become home to many families over a 40-year span. Finally, since the renovation was funded in part through a loan from the city, the repayment will allow the city to re-invest in more affordable housing projects.
A home is a refuge and should offer stability, McIlvaine continued. “The impact on the family can’t be measured. When someone lives in a Community Lodgings property they may have moved and moved and moved because the rent just keeps going up.
“When families spend more than 30% of their gross income on housing and related costs, it impacts the children’s education, the family routine, and the overall stress level,” McIlvaine continued. “Parents struggling with money have the same dreams for their children. They have the same hope and the same desire to provide.”
Individuals qualify for affordable housing when their gross income is 60 percent or less of the median income for the area. The 2017 median income for this area is $110,300, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and 60% of that income for a family of four amounts to $66,180. The income of a Community Lodgings housing resident averages $25,000.
The number of market affordable rentals in the city has dropped from over 19,000 units in 2000 to 1,749, primarily through conversions to condos and upscale apartments. Still, McIlvaine is optimistic about the future. The city’s Housing Master Plan includes providing 2,000 affordable housing units by 2025. “There’s a huge desire in the city to support our work and make financial investments. Our elected leaders are interested and supportive. I feel very optimistic that by working through our partners we are creating a stock of long term affordable housing.”
McIlvaine has worked with Community Lodgings on several of their housing renovations. “We really value our relationship with Community Lodgings,” McIlvaine said. “We are lucky to have groups like Community Lodgings that do the very hard work and really care for people who are the most challenged.”