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Nonprofit Opens New ‘Columbia Hills’ Affordable Housing Complex

A new affordable housing complex off of Columbia Pike is now open to renters.

The Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing held a ribbon-cutting Wednesday (Jan. 30) for its Columbia Hills Apartments at 1010 S. Frederick Street. The new development includes two eight-story buildings with room for a total of 229 committed affordable homes.

The event marked the culmination of roughly two years of construction on the $91 million project, which was financed with a mix of federal tax credits and state and local loan funds. The 1.2 acres of land necessary for the development was donated by M&T Bank.

“I’ve spent a lot of cold winters living in my car,” new Columbia Hills resident Henry Ashby said at the event, per a press release. “I feel very blessed to be here today as a resident of Columbia Hills.”

All of the apartments in the buildings will affordable to people making up to 60 percent of the Area Median Income. In Arlington, that works out to about $49,260 per year for a one-person household, or $70,320 for a family of four.

Ten apartments will be set aside as “permanent supportive housing” for people who have previously experienced homelessness, while another 39 will be affordable to people making below 50 percent of the AMI. That’s applies to a one-person income of $41,050 annually, or $58,600 for a family of four.

“This is about providing homes to people who are earning an income that is not reflective of the contributions that they make to our community, but are just reflective of the way our market economy works,” County Board Chair Christian Dorsey said. “An increasing number of people who are burdened by the housing cost in our region absolutely deserve a place to live that is not only safe and decent but represents the highest standards that we can build in Arlington.”

The disappearance of affordable homes in the county has indeed been an emphasis for the Board in recent years. County officials have pledged to make the creation of similar guaranteed affordable homes a priority as part of its “Affordable Housing Master Plan,” particularly with Amazon on the way, but the county has struggled to meet its own goals as real estate prices continue to rise.

APAH, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, is also hard at work on a variety of other affordable developments around the county, including ones in Virginia Square and Rosslyn.

Photo 1 via @libbygarvery, photo 3 via @apah_org

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