Help Arlington County Track How Their Broadband Stacks Up!

September 21, 2022
September 21, 2022
 

Arlington County launched a broadband study as part of its effort to make sure residents have affordable, reliable access to high-speed internet. Arlington County will track how they stack up with their digital eCheckup assessment. Please share widely among your network and, if applicable, with tenants at your property:

What the Inflation Reduction Act Could Mean for DC Residents and Businesses

September 21, 2022
September 21, 2022
 
Last month, President Biden signed the largest investment in climate infrastructure in U.S. history, the “Inflation Reduction Act”(IRA). IRA details many provisions centered around clean energy, and its’ goal is to have long-lasting, positive impacts on residents, businesses, and the environment. The White House launched CleanEnergy.gov to provide guidance on rebates and tax credits offered by the IRA. Below is an overview of what the law’s rebates and tax credits could mean for DC residents and business owners summarized from DCSEU’s more detailed analysis of the IRA’s effects in DC.
 
 
What could this mean for DC residents?
 
  • The 30% tax credit extension will make going solar even more attractive.
  • The addition of battery storage technology can help residents increase their home’s and the electricity grid’s resilience.
  • The increased cap on credits for making energy efficiency improvements in your home will encourage more investments on an annual basis. This provision will also allow for credits on home energy audits and electrical panel upgrades for residents to move toward electrification.
  • High-Efficiency Electric Home Rebate Act could help residents make infrastructure upgrades required to decarbonize and electrify their homes and makes it more affordable for residents making 80% to 150% of AMI. 
  • Home Energy Performance-Based Whole House Rebates will allow the opportunity for low-income residents to make crucial efficiency updates to their homes with less out-of-pocket expenses.
  • Energy Credit for Solar and Wind in Low-Income Communities could further encourage the development of community solar in low – to moderate income communities.
 

What could this mean for DC businesses?

  • Grants for State-Based Home Energy Efficiency Contractor Training could help the contracting community gain necessary training and certifications to meet market needs that will be accelerated by the IRA rebates and tax credits.

 

 
 

The HAND Report | Our 2021-2022 Year In Review

August 29, 2022
August 29, 2022
 
HAND Members & Partners,
As we enter a new membership cycle, our entire team is working hard to bring you a thoughtfully curated suite of programming over the next several months. Before we dive into all of HAND’s upcoming events and updates, we invite you to look back at our recent highlights. Check out our 2021-2022 year in review below titled The HAND Report.” 
 
And while you’re at it, don’t forget to register for the return of our Member Mix & Mingle and bookmark our new programming and events calendar!
 
We look forward to seeing you soon!
 
 
 

Five Minutes With Ayesha Hudson

August 9, 2022
August 9, 2022

The HAND network is hard at work to address the growing housing affordability challenge across the Capital Region. Five Minutes With is a series highlighting these members and other stakeholders. This informal conversation delves into their recent projects, the affordable housing industry, and more. In this edition, we had a conversation with Ayesha Hudson, the first loan recipient under  Equity in Action (EIA), HAND & Greystone’s debt and equity platform. Check out our dialogue below to learn about her 20+ year career, why she sought to get her project financed by the EIA, and what she believes is a “secret sauce” to creating more equitable communities in our region!

HAND: Congratulations on being the first loan recipient under HAND & Greystone’s Equity in Action program! We’ll get into that shortly, but first, can you tell us about your career journey up until this point?
AH: My career journey has been fulfilling! I am grateful to have achieved a 20+ year career in public service while simultaneously acquiring and managing investment properties. Both pursuits allowed me to impact others’ lives in very positively significant ways. When I consider my trajectory, it makes perfect sense that my path has led me to real estate development. I am motivated, through servant leadership, to create and preserve livable spaces in communities that are often overlooked. My varied career has given me a hands-on, inside look at my communities’ pain points while my empathy was groomed for action. I am looking forward to contributing more by way of quality, livable housing, and resident programming.  

HAND: Now, let’s talk about Equity in Action (EIA), a debt and equity platform designed to increase opportunities for black and brown real estate developers. Can you tell us why you sought to get your project financed by the EIA program?
AH: After engaging HAND’s membership and programming, I believed the EIA program was sincere.  Then when I met the lending team, I was convinced.  I began to see my loan application as a vehicle for positive change that would culminate with building improvements for my residents, growth of my business, and encouragement for other black and brown developers as they seek fair financing options.     

HAND: Tell us more about the project. What communities do you plan to serve, and what differentiates it from others in our region?
AH: This project is serving the beautiful Deanwood community, which has historically been underserved. I grew up within 3 miles of the building and would later respond to medical emergencies as a paramedic in this very neighborhood. While it can be a challenge to preserve housing in the lower socioeconomic areas of the District, our project fuses the business activity of real estate with a social responsibility to others. As an activated real estate development company, we are planning to add renewable resources and a more pleasing aesthetic to our block.  We are surrounded by neighborhood amenities, including public transportation and recreation making it a hidden jewel. We are looking forward to receiving some shine!  

HAND: How does it feel to be the first loan recipient under the Equity in Action program?
AH: I feel enthused, empowered, and better prepared to do this work!  My celebration, however, is tempered by the realization of the long-standing need for these kinds of lending initiatives. Once others follow, more black and brown developers can bring their full energy to the table so we may create better communities for our own communities. 

HAND: Many of us are familiar with the history of racism and its impacts on housing. Can you speak on how you approach your work in this space? How can developers of color in the real estate industry move the needle in a different direction?
AH: I approach my work in this space with a mix of empathy and realism. As I hone my development skills, I am guided by my spirituality and connectedness to the black community. Since my first investment in 1999, I have had an affinity for properties that, on first look, appear blighted. Knowing that our community yields so many hidden jewels, I am conscious of supporting it with the best intentions; financial reward has followed.  Moving any needle requires coordination and attentiveness.  As more developers of color align our skills, resources, and grit with one another, we will move the needle one project at a time. Relationship building and mentorship are integral to its success.      

HAND: Do you believe there is a “secret sauce” to addressing housing affordability and creating more equitable communities in our region? If so, what do you think that is? What do you think is the largest obstacle? –
AH: I believe the lack of housing affordability will need to be systematically dismantled through housing legislation. The laws that govern financing, tax implications, and subsidies present layers of restriction already germane in undervalued communities.  To me, the largest obstacle is fear of change.  The perceived social norms of poor people are woven into real estate development. As political decision-makers revamp laws to create more inclusivity, the housing landscape will inevitably change. 

HAND: What is your “why”? What keeps you motivated to continue your work in this space?
AH: I feel compelled to share my resources and influence in black and brown communities.  I enjoy working with people and being a part of a solution.  Being a housing provider allows me to take part in both callings. My grandfathers were involved in various real estate endeavors to include owning and operating a well-shopped convenience store in West Philly to running a farm in Waldorf, Maryland.  They imparted the importance of building a legacy, having self-reliance, and always sharing.  This opportunity to change my life and those around me is what keeps me motivated. 

HAND: If you weren’t working in this industry, what might you be doing?
AH: In my dreamt-up career, I’d be a part-time civil rights trial attorney who travels the world interviewing and writing about interesting people. 

Federal and Local Government Visit Spring Flats To Highlight Their Recent Investment in Affordable Housing

July 7, 2022
July 7, 2022



Pictured above from left to right: DC Mayor Muriel Bowser and HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge.
Photo Credit: ABC 7 News

HUD Secretary Fudge and DC Mayor Bowser visited Victory Housing’s Spring Flats development in DC to highlight actions they’re taking to increase the housing supply and lower housing costs. HUD’s Our Way Home is a national initiative that uplifts housing supply successes in local communities and connects cities, states, counties, Tribal communities, and U.S. Territories to the tools and resources needed to help preserve and produce affordable housing in their area. Our Way Home is an effort to build on the Biden-Harris Administration’s actions to address communities’ housing supply needs in an equitable, inclusive, and sustainable fashion. Mayor Bowser was also in attendance to announce the rolled out of a $1.4 billion investment in the DC’s Housing Production Trust Fund and the affordable housing toolkit in an effort to reach 36,000 new homes by 2025, including at least 12,000 affordable homes.

Spring Flats was the perfect setting for the announcements because of its’ affordable housing for seniors and families, homeownership opportunities and representation of the all-hands-on-deck approach that is needed for solving for the affordable housing crisis. Spring Flats is a combined redevelopment and new construction project completed in 2022 that was undertaken by a development team led by Victory Housing in partnership with Bank of America CDC and Brinshore Development. The new Spring Flats community consists of three different components: The Appleton, The Robeson, and The Rows at Spring Flats. A full description and images of the Spring Flats community can be found here.

Want to dig deeper? The articles below offer further details about HUD Secretary Fudge and DC Mayor Bowser’s recent investments in affordable housing.

Funding to Support Community-Centered BIPOC-Led Nonprofits’ Ability to Extend Services and Reach

July 6, 2022
July 6, 2022

BIPOC-led nonprofit organizations have limited access to equity building tools and resources. In partnership with Capital One, Prosperity Now is extending the Building High Impact Nonprofits of Color into the DMV area. This fund will grant $1.1 million to Prosperity Now, a national racial and economic justice nonprofit based in Washington, DC.  Prosperity Now will put the funds to immediate use to spark economic advancement and impact through empowering organizations that reflect the communities they serve. Prosperity Now will work with several organizations across the metropolitan DMV to provide leadership and capacity-building opportunities to advance their work. HAND is pleased to be participating in the cohort with the following organizations: 

  • Collegiate Directions 
  • Latino Economic Development Center 
  • LIFT-DC
  • Marshall Heights Community Development  
  • My Sisters’ Place 
  • Safe Sisters Circle 

Check out the official press release here.

Five Minutes With Maia Shanklin Roberts

April 10, 2022
April 10, 2022

The HAND network is hard at work to address the growing housing affordability challenge across the Capital Region. Five Minutes With is a series highlighting these members and other stakeholders. This informal conversation delves into their recent projects, the affordable housing industry, and more.  In this edition, we had a conversation with Maia Shanklin Roberts the Vice President
of Real Estate Development for Preservation of Affordable Housing
. Check out our dialogue below to learn more about the Barry Farms project, her work experience, and her words of wisdom for the next generation of leaders of color!

HAND: Congratulations on your new role at Preservation of Affordable Housing! Are there key takeaways from your experience thus far that you are bringing into your new position? 
MSR: Key takeaways: Engagement of community is essential in a successful affordable housing project. In my role, I am responsible for taking inventory of all of the various stakeholders on the project and discerning how best to utilize their skills/resources for the project. And most importantly, I have to be thoughtful in how to engage marginalized voices in the process because it is these stakeholders that are most impacted by my decisions.

HAND: You have extensive experience in a wide range of complex affordable housing development and real estate transactions – can you tell us about your journey to this point
MSR: I was an affordable housing attorney from 2017 to 2021. When going to law school, I knew that I wanted to do work that could create systemic change in low-income and urban communities. It was the sole purpose of going to law school. I am from DC, where I learned firsthand the realities of the impact divestment had on black and brown communities. Then after graduating college, I came back to DC to work for the Peaceoholics, where I worked with youth in gangs and crews and learned that unless we bring real resources to their communities – there would be no way we could truly curb the violence and other issues that plague our community. That lead me to law… and my desire to work to provide economic resources to my community. I loved it until I realized that I could do more. I could be that designer and bring my skills and talents, and perspective as a black woman from the community into my work. 

HAND: What excites you about your new role? Do you foresee any challenges? 
MSR: Working on affordable housing projects in DC excites me the most. Barry Farm is a major redevelopment, and it is my job to work with my team to imagine and implement a plan that could transform the lives of former residents and the DC natives. That’s huge! Of course, there will be challenges. On top of the challenge of developing a multi-phase project – infrastructure and vertical buildings… we also must address issues like gentrification, protecting former residents’ right to return, systemic poverty, and equity all within the project. 

HAND: Do you believe there is a “secret sauce” to addressing housing affordability and creating more equitable communities in our region? If so, what do you think that is? What do you think is the largest obstacle?
MSR: Not necessarily secret sauce… I believe you just have to operate with the assumption that your purpose as a developer of affordable housing community is to be the voice for the underserved and marginalized. Therefore, it is your job to increase opportunity for diverse and equitable participation at all levels in the project, and to ensure that you deliver a project with resources and amenities that provide equitable outcomes for the community served. I think the largest obstacle is that what’s “market” is not equitable. And so you constantly have to push this agenda with all stakeholders from your financing partners, to contractors, to national commercial tenants. In all ways, you have to ask on every call/with every decision, what more can be done to be inclusive and maximize opportunity and benefit for those who are not sitting at this table because of systemic racism and marginalization.

HAND: What is your “why”? What keeps you motivated to continue your work in this space?
MSR: There are not many people in leadership that look like me, and I want to change that. Our work directly affects black and brown communities. We must have more people of color in leadership and working on these transactions to ensure that they are best served.

HAND: Keeping in mind the history of racism and its impacts on housing, how can leaders of color or, more specifically, women leaders of color in the real estate industry move the needle in a different direction?
MSR: Your voice is needed. Don’t allow anyone to take that away from you. I think the most significant barrier is for the myriad of reasons we aren’t seen… I make it my business to be seen. I am passionate about my work and I don’t have any fear of speaking up and being the only one in the room if I have to be.
 

HAND: If you weren’t working in this industry, what might you be doing?
MSR: I would probably be doing similar work… lol, and traveling to warm and sunny destinations with my family.

Need Support With BEPS Compliance?

April 10, 2022
April 10, 2022

 


With only one year left until the first major DC’s Building Energy Performance Standards (BEPS) deadline, the Building Innovation Hub recently released a new suite of tools to support you with BEPS compliance! HAND is proud to share the Building Innovation Hub’s resources below, which will help you navigate the regulations and enable easier building upgrades.

  • BEPS Compliance Pathway Wizard. This will help you understand which BEPS Compliance Pathway is most appropriate for you and your building.
  • BEPS Compliance Pathway Timelines. This will inform you about interim deadlines and major milestones associated with each BEPS Compliance Pathway.
  • Energy Audit Scopes of Work. Building Innovation Hub offers one version specific to the requirements outlined in the Prescriptive Pathway and another to help you choose a BEPS Compliance Pathway.
  • Find-A-Vendor Portal. This simple notification system will share project opportunities with local service providers and contractors via an email distribution list. The portal is now open and ready for building owners and representatives to submit their BEPS or energy-related projects to Building Innovation Hub’s list of vendors.
  • Request a BEPS Presentation. The Building Innovation Hub is in the process of training local experts in all the details of the BEPS regulations. If you’re interested in holding a presentation at your office or building about BEPS, please request one.
  • Contact the Building Innovation Hub. If you have any questions or need additional support, please contact the Building Innovation Hub directly at info@buildinginnovationhub.org.

 

From “Cradle to Career” | APAH’s Mission to Support the Next Generation Fund

March 28, 2022
March 28, 2022

Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH) has received an exciting leadership gift from Tim and Diane Naughton, which was matched by AvalonBay Communities, to directly impact children and youth living in APAH communities from “cradle to career”. This combined $500,000 gift is part of a holistic strategy around youth programming called the Next Generation Fund. 

This initiative seeks to foster the expectation and provide support to enable every child living in an APAH community to graduate from high school and pursue college, or vocational training, to achieve a family-sustaining job that allows them to thrive. 

Check out the official press release here.

Five Minutes With Christy Zeitz

March 15, 2022
March 15, 2022

The HAND network is hard at work to address the growing housing affordability challenge across the Capital Region. Five Minutes With is a series highlighting these members and other stakeholders. This informal conversation delves into their recent projects, the affordable housing industry, and more. In honor of Women’s History Month, we are excited to share this special edition of Five Minutes With. In this edition, we had a conversation with Christy Zeitz the CEO of Fellowship Square. Check out our dialogue below to learn more about Fellowship Square’s farewell tour, Christy’s advice on how to make affordable housing projects work, and her words of wisdom for the next generation of female leaders!

HAND: As CEO of Fellowship Square, you bring extensive leadership experience in management, fundraising, marketing, and program development. Can you tell us about your journey to this point?
CZ: I do my best work when interacting with others, so I’ve always sought opportunities to meet new people, learn from them, and take the next step forward in my career. Along every step along my way to my current position as CEO of Fellowship Square, I’ve proactively learned from others, embraced challenges, and worked hard to attain stretch goals. Those priorities have served me in every position I’ve ever had – across all the organizations I’ve worked with and functions that I’ve had. The guiding focus of my professional life has been to make a measurable difference in the lives of others, and this is truly the most rewarding part of my journey.

 

HAND: What strategic financing and collaboration strategies can you share to ensure that affordable housing providers like Fellowship Square can continue to serve vulnerable residents with dignity over the long term?
CZ: To make affordable housing projects work, it takes smart, creative people working collaboratively. Fellowship Square is one of the leading providers of affordable housing and services to low-income seniors in the region, operating 670 units and serving roughly 800 residents. We’ve put structures in place so that the rental cost is never more than 30% of a resident’s annual income – making our communities some of the most affordable in the region for seniors. The key strategies that underly our work: collaboration, creativity, and openness to new approaches. Whether for the benefit of an owner, investor, residents, or the community as a whole, there are news ideas and options that must be uncovered and teased out in some way. If we go into a project thinking we are going to do it the way we’ve always done affordable housing projects, there will be a missed opportunity somewhere. Openness to new ideas is key. We and other housing nonprofits like us have the unfortunate challenge of competing against the for-profit developers for things like land and construction costs. These costs can be staggering – and create major barriers to building more affordable housing. We must be open to new ways of thinking, new partnerships and the unexpected twists and turns that get our projects done. Sometimes the “right” approach requires writing a new playbook.

 

HAND: Fellowship Square has launched a “farewell tour” of the 1970’s Lake Anne Fellowship House in preparation of moving 300+ residents from the original 50-year-old building to a brand-new state-of-the-art residence across the street. Can you tell us more about this undertaking, why it’s important and any challenges you may foresee?
CZ: Lake Anne Fellowship House, originally built in 1970, was the first senior housing and first affordable housing developed in Reston. Over the past 50+ years, the property has provided housing to more than 1,300 low-income seniors. Yet the building was showing its age and upkeep of the property was exceeding the amount residents pay in rent and the subsidies received from HUD. About seven years ago, our Board decided that the best path forward was to replace the existing 240-unit building with a new facility. 

This is where creativity and openness to new approaches came in. We embarked on a joint venture with Enterprise Community Development with whom we were able to craft a novel solution: instead of relocating the residents temporarily until a new building was built on the existing footprint, we would construct a new building on an underutilized portion of the current site. This would substantially reduce logistical demands as well as the number of relocations our residents would need to make. Under this creatively structured deal, once our residents are moved into the new building this spring, Fellowship Square will demolish the original building, market rate townhouses will be developed, and the land sales proceeds will be reinvested as part of the overall financing package. 

Of course, financing for affordable housing is never simple. The development team needed to secure project based rental vouchers for 100% of the units and create the right mix of financing for such an ambitious goal. In addition to our partnership with ECD, financing also came from diverse arrangements with Virginia Housing and the Virginia Housing Trust Fund, Virginia Community Capital, Low-Income Housing Tax Credit equity provided through Enterprise Housing Credit Investments by Capital One, Enterprise Community Loan Fund, Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority, and, of course, HUD. In fact, much time and effort were expended convincing HUD as to the critical need to preserve the deep subsidies for the existing very low-income residents and making sure they would be eligible to move to the new building so that all residents who wished could be accommodated.

All of this was accomplished. We broke ground in 2020 (in the middle of the pandemic!) and residents will relocate this spring to the newly built Lake Anne House. The property comes with some of the best amenities, services, and environmentally sustainable features. Residents will appreciate its gym, arts room, game room, wellness clinic, beautiful outdoor terraces, wifi throughout the building and more. We will also continue to have a full time Service Coordinator onsite to serve our residents.

But the grand finale is bittersweet – for the residents who have lived at Lake Anne Fellowship House for many years, for long time staff who have worked in that building for years, and for Reston community members who have visited the property, strolled through the hallways, and visited friends and family there. This is a major change, and I know there will be some tears shed. Sometimes it’s hard to say good-bye even when a bright new future lies ahead. We have a ”farewell tour” of programs to communally and collectively celebrate our community, this building, and our memories here as we prepare for the move to the new residence.

 

HAND: Do you believe there is a “secret sauce” to addressing housing affordability and creating more equitable communities in our region? If so, what do you think that is? What do you think is the largest obstacle?
CZ: There’s no “secret sauce” to housing affordability. In my mind, it’s more like a “Las Vegas buffet” of options, opportunities, considerations, and collaborations – and the plate for each region may be filled quite a bit differently. In the Washington DC Metro area, our housing needs span the spectrum of price points, amenities, services, and financing. The affordability factor is a core fundamental part of supporting the local workforce. As such, creating more affordable housing has to be a community effort – it can’t just be left to the housing advocates to fight for. The community as a whole has to come together to embrace housing affordability for all.  The more collaborators at the table, the more varied our buffet of options and the more success we can have.

The type of affordable housing will vary community to community, but collaboration across organizations will always be key.  For example, very low-income residents, especially those below 30% AMI, require significant subsidies.  Beyond rental assistance, this often includes the need for the provision of services including transportation, healthcare, food assistance, healthcare, mental health services, and more.  This means that affordable housing management must also be able to access public and private resources to augment standard housing management activities.  Fellowship Square accomplishes this by building a deep network of resources within our local community to plug into. Our vulnerable residents can access care managers who can provide or refer the residents to appropriate services in our community. This is important to build and foster.

 

HAND: In March we celebrate Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day. Given your extensive leadership experience, what advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders? What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership, and how have you overcome those barriers?
CZ: Few things make me prouder than to see young women asserting themselves and stepping up when they have an opportunity to lead. There are so many valuable traits and perspectives that we all benefit from when women are in leadership positions. For today’s emerging female leaders, they cannot sit by and wait to be asked to lead – it’s much more important that they seek out and even create those opportunities.

Sometimes the biggest barrier to reaching the next level in our careers is how we hinder ourselves. Whether through self-doubt or even other commitments, it comes down to priorities and having a vision for our own professional futures. Nothing will be handed to us on a silver platter – nor should it. Working hard and getting ahead is where you learn to grind it out and become a true inspirational leader. Leadership comes from experience, it comes from perspective, and those both come from hard work. But hard work that results in great leadership cannot be achieved in the shadows!

Women must always put themselves at the table – and in my experience, there’s always a way to have your voice heard in those circles, whether directly or indirectly. Regardless of someone’s position on a staff flowchart, each individual person can be a leader in some respect. Young women who may feel they aren’t in a position of leadership can still have an important impact on the trajectory of projects, assignments, teams, and workplace culture. Show initiative and you will be rewarded.

As you can tell, I’m very much an optimist. I always believe that what I want to happen can happen, it’s up to me to figure out how to make it happen. And the only thing holding me back is my own ideas of what I can and cannot accomplish. I hope other women can learn from this.

HAND: What is your “why”? What keeps you motivated to continue your work in this space?
CZ: Working in the affordable housing space is a little like making dreams come true. For too many people today, having a safe, affordable, and stable home can seem out of reach. Being a part of helping to make this dream of housing happen is a daily motivator for me. Nearly every week, I get at least one call from one of our 800+ residents who wants to tell me about what’s going on in their life. They never hesitate to say how thankful they are that they live at Fellowship House. This is what keeps me motivated every day. I am so proud of the work my organization does, and really appreciate the time and effort the Board and staff put into our mission.

 

HAND: If you weren’t working in this industry, what might you be doing?
CZ: I’d be living in the Caribbean, working on my side hustle as a fiction writer…and helping anyone who asked!