Press Club

The Arlington County Board took two steps over the weekend to preserve and upgrade existing affordable housing while building hundreds of new units.

During its meeting on Saturday members unanimously approved a nearly $23 million loan from the county’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund (AHIF) for renovations to the Park Shirlington Apartments, a 1950s-era, garden-style complex with 293 units at 4510 31st Street S., on the edge of the Fairlington neighborhood.

The Board also approved $124,000 in rent assistance to offset potential increases resulting from the renovations.

“This project has a long history and is very important as one of the larger affordable housing developments in the county,” said Melissa Danowski, a staff member in the housing division of the county’s Department of Community Planning, Housing, and Development.

The vote marks a change in plans for the county, which was initially planning to buy and build up part of the property with a partner developer, Washington Business Journal reports. Instead, Standard Property Co. and the National Foundation for Affordable Housing Solutions will oversee soup-to-nuts renovations and pledge to keep the rent affordable for 75 years.

The renovations will begin in winter 2022 and end in 2024, with 10-20 units redone at a time. Residents will have access to vacant “home-hotel suites” so they do not have to find another place to stay while their unit is redone, said Steven Kahn, a director of Standard Communities.

Each unit’s interior will get new appliances, fixtures and cosmetic upgrades. Building systems such as HVAC will be modernized and common areas will be renovated. The developer is considering including free- or reduced-price internet.

“I’m very happy that this thought about preservation has led to preserving a community, while essentially rebuilding the units,” Board Chair Matt de Ferranti said. “That’s a really positive step. It is a huge victory for our community as a whole.”

Following the vote, the Board took action to approve an agreement with Amazon to develop affordable housing near its HQ2. Amazon will donate a $40 million parcel of undeveloped land on the Crystal House Apartments site to the county to be developed into new affordable housing.

This is a gift beyond any of our requirements, but it’s a partnership really that helps serve affordable housing,” de Ferranti said.

More than 550 units could be developed as affordable for moderate- to low-income households. At least 148 will be committed to households earning 50% or less of the area median income (AMI), and a minimum of 406 will be for households earning 80% or less of the AMI.

The county aims to partner with an affordable housing developer, to be selected later, and complete construction by Jan. 1, 2028.

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Money (file photo)Starting this Friday, Arlington County is holding free clinics to assist residents with tax preparation.

The clinics are intended to serve residents with “low or moderate income.” Several of the clinics are vague about income levels, but others specify a maximum income.

Those seeking assistance must bring a photo ID, social security cards for each family member, earnings statements (W-2, W-2G, and all 1099’s received) and a copy of last year’s federal and state returns. If applicable, participants should also bring interest and dividend statements, daycare expenses paid in 2012, student loan interest payments, a record of any sales tax paid on new vehicles purchased in 2012 and a record of any real estate taxes paid in 2012.

The schedule for the clinics is as follows:

  • Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street) — Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m., February 5-April 11. No appointments are necessary, customers are handled on a first-come, first-served basis. Spanish speakers will be available.
  • Columbia Pike Branch Library (816 S. Walter Reed Drive) — Tuesdays from 1:15-7:45 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays from 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m., February 1-April 13. No appointments are necessary, customers are handled on a first-come, first-served basis. Spanish speakers will be available.
  • Arlington Department of Human Services (2100 Washington Blvd) — Tuesdays from 5:30-7:00 p.m. (or when all available slots are filled), February 5-April 9. No appointments are necessary, customers are handled on a first-come, first-served basis. Maximum income is $35,000 for one person or $51,000 for families. Spanish speakers will be available.
  • ECDC Enterprise Development Group (901 S. Highland Street) — Tuesdays and Fridays from 6:00-9:00 p.m., Saturdays from 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m., February 1-April 13. No appointments are necessary, customers are handled on a first-come, first-served basis. Maximum income is $51,000. Spanish speakers will be available.
  • AARP Travel Team — (Only available to people unable to leave their homes.) Call 703-594-6576 to schedule an appointment.
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As the warm weather ramps up, Virginia’s Cooling Assistance Program is starting to accept applications from local residents.

The program, which is administered by Arlington County, helps residents in need with the cost of cooling their homes for the summer. Funding can assist with acquiring or repairing cooling equipment, and with paying utility bills.

To be eligible for assistance, a household must have a person with a disability, a person aged 60 or older, or a child under the age of six. Eligibility is also based on income and the number of people residing in a household.

Every year, the state determines what the maximum payment will be to each family participating in the program. Some years it’s around $100 for the summer, and last year it was $600. The applicant is responsible for any costs in excess of the limit. The state has not yet announced this year’s maximum payment.

Applications are currently being accepted, but can’t be processed until June 15. The last date applications and utility bills will be accepted is August 15. For more information contact Kay West at 703-228-1490 or Ive Ruiz at 703-228-1488.

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