April 30, 2013

Quick Q&A with Nina Janopaul, President and CEO of Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing

We asked Nina Janopaul, President and CEO of Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing, a few questions. If you'd like to ask Nina a question, please comment. We'll do our best to share a response.

1. What are the major challenges facing housing non-profits in a high cost area like Arlington?

Our biggest challenge in Arlington is finding land or buildings for sale. Arlington has become popular due to excellent schools, public transportation, strong employment opportunities and quality of life. Developers from all over the nation are competing to buy and renovate or tear down and redevelop existing apartment complexes. The number of market affordable apartments has been shrinking by 1000 units per year, forcing many low income families to leave this convenient, supportive community. A secondary challenge is the high cost of development, as we face extensive site plan conditions, tight construction sites and high expectations from neighbors.

2.  How important do you consider Resident Services Programs to a successful affordable housing program?

Resident Services are a key component of our operations. Many APAH residents live one crisis away from homelessness. Some are so busy working multiple jobs, they can’t help their children in the evenings with schoolwork. APAH promotes opportunity and wellness for our residents through public and private partnerships, including parenting training, afterschool enrichment, community building, workplace skills (computers, English as a second language), food supplements and one-on-one intervention with families in crisis.

A growing number of our units provide permanent supportive housing (PSH) to some of the lowest income households in the County, many with disabilities. Our partners provide wrap-around supportive services and rental subsidy to these residents. Partners include Doorways for Women and Families, Community Residences, Arlington Street Peoples Assistance Network and Arlington County.

We consider both our general resident services programs and our PSH programs, as essential parts of our mission to develop, preserve, own and advocate for quality affordable housing in Arlington, and to promote opportunity for our residents through partnerships and programs.

3.  How has VHDA been an integral part of your organization’s efforts to provide affordable housing opportunities in Arlington?

VHDA has been a key partner in APAH’s success. The Low Income Housing Tax Credits are essential to funding any major acquisition, new development or renovation. VHDA has a fair and transparent process for allocating this scarce resource. In addition, APAH has frequently used VHDA as our financing partner. We find the loan terms, especially combined with SPARC and REACH, to be competitive and easy to execute. We have appreciated VHDA’s flexibility for special situations, such as when we used charitable contributions to lower the rent targeting on some of our PSH units. We are fortunate to work in Virginia with an effective and efficient, visionary and compassionate state housing finance partner.

For more information, please visit APAH online.
Questions submitted by Brian Matt, PR Manager for VHDA.

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