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Executive Director to Step Down from Local Affordable Housing Nonprofit

Michelle Winters (courtesy Alliance for Housing Solutions)

The head of a local nonprofit that advocates for affordable housing is stepping down after five years at the helm.

Michelle Winters announced Friday that effective Nov. 30, she will no longer be the executive director of the Alliance for Housing Solutions (AHS).

“I am inspired by your dedication to the well-being of Arlington’s lower-income residents and to creating a more welcoming, affordable, and inclusive Arlington for Everyone,” referencing a set of AHS principles. “I’m proud of the many successes we have accomplished together, although I know there is still so much critical work to do.”

According to the alliance’s Board Chair Jenny Lawson, the board is “undertaking an active search for a new executive director.”

The nonprofit, founded in 2003, works to increase the supply of affordable housing in the county and Northern Virginia through education, policy development and advocacy.

Since Winters joined AHS in May 2016, she notes, the county has taken a number of steps to preserve and build affordable housing, including one in which AHS was closely involved: expanding opportunities to build Accessory Dwelling Units.

During this time, the alliance has also supported affordable housing developments throughout the county.

The nonprofit maintains discussion groups, hosts events and educates residents about Arlington’s housing efforts, from the Missing Middle Housing Study to its Affordable Housing Investment Fund. Last year, amid the national reckoning on race, it produced a video on race and housing in Arlington.

AHS has a fairly modest budget to do this work, tax records show. During Winters’ tenure, AHS’s annual donation base increased from $85,000 to nearly $148,000 in 2019. Filings indicate a good chunk is spent on employee compensation, operational costs and office maintenance for its space at 3100 Clarendon Blvd.

Winters earned $55,946 in reportable compensation in 2019, for 20 hours per week of work, according to the nonprofit’s IRS Form 990 filing.

Some of the biggest donors to AHS are local affordable housing developers AHC, Inc. and Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing, as well as and Virginia Housing, a state-created nonprofit that helps Virginians attain housing.

The alliance’s Board of Directors praised Winters’ work.

“She has been a thoughtful and dedicated champion for affordable housing during years of significant growth and transition, generously sharing her policy expertise, partnership skills, and wisdom with those seeking to maximize opportunities for safe, decent, and affordable housing for everyone in Arlington,” the directors said. “Because of her dedication and commitment to our mission, AHS is strong and well-positioned to continue its work, and we will miss her many contributions and wish her well in her future endeavors.”

Lawson thanked the departing executive director “for her readiness to assist with transition issues now and later.”

Winters, who served on Arlington’s Housing Commission from 2007-10, says she will continue being “an active voice for change in Arlington, across Virginia, and nationwide on housing policy.”

AHS will highlight her accomplishments during its upcoming 2021 Bozman Awards on Nov. 14.

Winters has also worked on housing policy at the national level, working for the Fannie Mae Foundation and leading initiatives at two of the country’s largest affordable housing organizations, NeighborWorks America and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation.

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