Community Lodgings History
Since Community Lodgings was founded by eight Episcopal churches in 1987, our goal has been to build the foundation for a better life for Alexandria’s working poor and families transitioning from homelessness to self-sufficiency. The eight churches underwrote the purchase of Community Lodgings’ first apartment building – located on Notabene Drive in the Arlandria/Chirilagua neighborhood – in an effort to end homelessness in the city.
With continued ecumenical support, four additional apartment buildings were purchased in the neighborhood to increase affordable housing options as a means of addressing the dramatic increase in family homelessness of the mid-1980s. Community Lodgings’ affordable housing gave Alexandria’s most vulnerable families fresh options, thus altering the housing equation in Alexandria.
Today in Alexandria, families still remain homeless and many more area families struggle to make ends meet. With 45 apartments available at below-market rent (of the 45, five are set aside for transitional housing for homeless families at or below 30% of the area median income), Community Lodgings gives disadvantaged local families access to affordable while also offering high-quality supportive services to families transitioning to self-sufficient lives. Learn more about our transitional housing and affordable housing programs.
In addition to housing, Community Lodgings provides children and parents with an educational foundation for success. Since 1998, when we first opened computer literacy and English Language Learner (ELL) classes to adults, we have committed ourselves to improving outcomes for families in the community at risk of homelessness, gang involvement, substance abuse, inappropriate sexual activity and emotional, physical and/or sexual abuse. In 2002, we opened the community-based Fifer Family Learning Center to meet the needs of the surrounding Arlandria-Chirilagua community and introduced our Youth Education Program. Elementary, middle and high school students – all living below the poverty threshold – now attend free daily afterschool programs and summer programs, meet with tutors and mentors, learn valuable life skills, and participate in various enrichment and recreational activities. In 2008 we expanded the center, increasing instructional time for at-risk children and their parents.
In response to the success of our education programs at the Fifer Family Learning Center, in 2013 we partnered with Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) and the City of Alexandria to expand our programming to Brent Place, a low-income, 165-unit apartment located in the western part of Alexandria. Similar to the work we continue to do in Arlandria, we served first through twelfth grade students in afterschool programming at Brent Place for 3 years. In 2014, we were again asked to replicate our program at the New Brookside Apartments in Arlandria, right down the street from our original Fifer Family Learning Center. Through this expansion of our program, we are able to reach even more of the Arlandria-Chirilagua community’s kids and now the Youth Education Program serves 110 children daily.
In each of our learning sites, receive academic enrichment that is aligned with what they learn in school. Additionally, time is designated at the end of the program to support students with their homework. Throughout the year, Community Lodgings partners with different city organizations and non-profits to provide workshops for students, including topics such as writing and creating your own book, nutritious cooking and anti-bullying.
In May 2017, we began renovations to our property at 607 Notabene Drive, which houses our Fifer Family Learning Center. During renovations, Beverley Hills Community United Methodist Church has been gracious enough to offer us space to conduct our regularly-scheduled afterschool programming. We expect to reopen the doors to a new-and-improved Fifer this fall!
Community Lodgings is Arlandria-Chirilagua’s best resource for helping families reach self-sufficiency. With trusted bilingual staff, committed volunteers and quality services, we serve more than 200 families every week. There’s a reason the Catalogue for Philanthropy recognizes us as “one of the best small charities in the Greater Washington region”.