AHC Celebrates 30 Years of Serving Community

(Friday, September 22, 2006 11:03 AM EDT)
Three decades have passed since AHC Inc. was formed to provide housing assistance for Arlingtonians of limited means. Now, as the organization celebrates 30 years of growth, its services are needed more than ever, supporters say.

“We have to recognize there's a housing crisis - we have to use every tool we can to house our growing population,” said Susan Retz, speaking at AHC's anniversary celebration, held Sept. 20 at the Westin Arlington Gateway Hotel.

“From an economic standpoint, from a social standpoint and from a political standpoint, there's a lot to be done,” added Robert Bushkoff, also speaking at the event.

Retz and Bushkoff were among those inducted into AHC's Hall of Fame during the anniversary event. Also inducted were Charles Rinker and Susan Dewey. Charles Monroe was inducted posthumously.

Since 1975, AHC has preserved or developed 3,100 apartments, which provide affordable housing for more than 7,000 residents with low and moderate incomes. Starting 13 years ago, the organization began offering a resident-services program, which includes after-school activities, teen tutoring and skills workshops for adults. Yearly, AHC reaches more than 1,200 children, teens and adults through the program.

“AHC provides residents not just housing, but a home,” said Timothy Adams, director of the Mid-Atlantic Region Neighborworks America.

The organization also develops for-profit housing ventures, with the profits going back into nonprofit services. And it has expanded beyond Arlington in its efforts, although most projects are in the county.

More growth is on the horizon, officials said.

“I can safely predict, with due modesty, that ‘you ain't seen nothin' yet,'” said Walter Webdale, the organization's president and chief executive officer.

Some of AHC's current efforts include construction of two new nine-story buildings in Woodbury North, which will house 108 apartments and a community center, and the refinancing and renovation of 348 affordable apartments in the Gates of Ballston.

“Decent and affordable housing should be available to everyone,” said Andrew Keyes, chairman of the AHC board of directors.

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