Archive for category: Industry Highlights

Fellowship Square and Community Partners: Uniting for Impact at the Annual Summer Food Rally

July 2, 2024
July 2, 2024


Last month, StarKist, Feed the Children, and Cornerstones hosted their third annual StarKist-Feed The Children Summer Food Rally aimed at combating food insecurity in Northern Virginia. The event successfully provided 21,000 pounds of donated food to five local food pantries and affordable housing nonprofits that reach vulnerable individuals and families in the region. Initially, this event was geared towards supporting families with children who depend on free or reduced-price meals during the school year and face challenges accessing food over the summer break. However, this year’s rally was expanded to include older adults, recognizing the unique challenges of food insecurity they face, such as physical difficulties in grocery shopping, meal preparation, and the financial dilemma of choosing between medications and groceries.

Fellowship Square, a HAND member and affordable housing and services provider for vulnerable seniors in the Washington DC metro area, was one of the five partners of the Food Rally. This event was an enjoyable occasion for Fellowship Square’s 300+ residents at Hunters Woods Fellowship House in Reston, Va., many of whom live on a restricted fixed income of less than $10,000/year, as it received widespread support and supplies from the Food Rally.

Nationally, food insecurity is a challenge that over 5 million older adults courageously face every day. In Virginia alone, 7.5% of the more than 1.9+ million seniors strive to meet thier nutritional needs. Addressing food insecurity requires collaboration and partnership. For Fellowship Square, partnering with Feed the Children (who focus on the other side of the age range!) and StarKist (who focus on the other side of the age range!) was an excellent opportunity to improve the lives of older adults by providing them access to nutrient-rich foods, contributing to a healthier Fellowship Square community overall. For additional information, please read the news release

APAH Resident Services 2023: Residents Making the Most of Their Home

December 14, 2023
December 14, 2023

APAH’s Mission
APAH’s mission extends far beyond four walls and a roof. As a nonprofit developer, we address regional affordable housing needs by developing and preserving quality affordable apartments while providing programs and services to empower residents to make the most of their home. Real estate development is just the beginning of APAH’s work. In addition to housing stability, we prioritize economic mobility; health, wellness, and senior support; children, youth, and families; and community engagement through onsite programming across our properties. APAH recognizes that when a stable home is combined with effective services and programs, it can be life-changing.

Prioritizing Resident Voice
Since 2012, residents have been members of APAH’s board of directors, bringing their lived experience to the table to shape and enrich APAH’s priorities and strategic decision-making. Including APAH residents at the board level provides invaluable perspective as we develop innovative programming to meet residents’ varying needs. To add another platform to gather resident feedback as APAH’s portfolio of properties grows regionally, APAH’s Resident Advisory Council launched in 2022. Resident representatives from each of APAH’s 21 properties volunteer monthly by meeting with staff to help shape programming and priorities for APAH communities. In addition, onsite resident services staff build rapport with residents daily at each property and design programs to help address resident-identified challenges and barriers. Residents are surveyed by onsite coordinators upon move-in so that APAH can learn about each family’s or individual’s goals and dreams. By working hand in hand with residents, we understand who they are, what their needs are, and how to best support their journey.

Residents Making the Most of Their Home 
The lifeblood of APAH communities is the residents who call an APAH apartment “home.” Families cooking a meal, children finishing homework, seniors sharing a coffee, and neighbors learning about each other are what make APAH communities special. By elevating resident stories in APAH’s communication strategy, we highlight the joys and resilience of our neighbors. Programs such as the Latino College Access Club, now in its second cohort due to a partnership with the Virginia Latino Higher Education Network and admissions expert Lyons Sanchezconch, is getting students college-ready by lowering access barriers around tools like the FAFSA process. The Snowden’s Ridge Diamonds Dance Team is unleashing the creative spirit of young girls and teens under the leadership of APAH’s onsite coordinator, LaNia Dixon. APAH is supporting the older adult population in the region at its newest senior residences by providing wellness programming, transportation assistance, social connections, and much more.

APAH believes that everyone deserves a place to call home–a foundation to live their dreams, and we will continue to work to make the region more equitable, diverse, and inclusive.

We hope this latest video inspires the HAND community to prioritize using every creative tool we can to elevate residents’ voices. Doing so with dynamic storytelling that showcases the dignity of the families that call our properties home, will, we hope, help move the needle on the critical housing and funding needed to support residents in the region.  


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 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.



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 
  • Marshall Heights Community Development  
  • My Sisters’ Place 
  • Safe Sisters Circle 

Check out the official press release here.

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


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!




ATTN Developers | Prince George’s County DHCD Request for Qualifications

January 6, 2022
January 6, 2022


Request for Qualifications: Right of First Refusal

The Prince George’s County Department of Housing and Community Development is seeking responses (“Qualification Statements”) from qualified non-profit and mission-oriented for-profit developers (“Developers”) with strong affordable rental housing track records and demonstrated experience in acquiring, owning, operating, rehabilitating, and developing quality rental housing with affordability covenants who are interested in serving in a pool of qualified parties to serve as assignees or designees (the “Roster of Responders”) to exercise DHCD’s Right of First Refusal (“ROFR”). For more information on the ROFR and to respond to this request, please review the ROFR developer bench application. The proposal closing date is January 31, 2022.



Didn’t Meet the District’s Building Energy Performance Standards? Help is Available

December 13, 2021
December 13, 2021


Didn’t Meet the District’s Building Energy Performance Standards (BEPS)? Help is Available.

The DC Sustainable Energy Utility, in partnership with the District Department of Energy & Environment and the DC Green Bank, launched an Affordable Housing Retrofit Accelerator program offering enhanced technical and financial assistance to owners and managers of qualifying District affordable multifamily buildings that do not meet the District’s Building Energy Performance Standards (BEPS). Apply today to find out if your building qualifies for the program, for the program, and join the DCSEU and DOEE for a webinar on December 15 to find out more.