February 13, 2019

Honoring an Affordable Housing Champion

Ron Terwilliger (center) was honored
 by APAH for his many contributions to the affordable housing mission.
It’s one thing to recognize a troubling and pervasive social problem. It’s quite another to be a tireless and articulate advocate who presses for solutions.

Affordable housing in the U.S. has just such a champion. His name: J. Ronald Terwilliger. In October, he was honored by the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH) at an event attended by 300 people, including members of VHDA’s leadership team.

This event generated $650,000 for APAH, an Arlington-based nonprofit that serves more than 1,600 low-income households living in one of the organization’s 16 affordable properties countywide. 

Ron Terwilliger is an Arlington native and a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. Now retired, he served as CEO of Trammell Crow Residential for 22 years at a time when it was the largest developer of multifamily housing in the nation. Since then, he has championed the nation’s need for more and better affordable housing. His $5 million gift paved the way for the creation of the Terwilliger Center for Workforce Housing at the Urban Land Institute, which works on the design, development, and financing of mixed-income workforce housing in Washington DC, Atlanta and Southeast Florida.

Terwilliger has served as Chairman of the Board for Enterprise Community Partners, Habitat for Humanity International and the I Have Dream Foundation. He’s been active in the Bipartisan Policy Center Housing Commission and has lobbied Congress to produce a more fair and effective national housing policy.

During the APAH ceremony, he spoke about how affordable housing is a critical economic development tool that attracts businesses and builds a stable workforce. He was also frank in his assessment of the inequities within the current housing system: “I like to believe that the three-quarters of the population that are well-housed just don’t know that a quarter of the people living in this country are not. I find it frustrating that of the $200 billion we spend as a nation on housing subsidy, 70 percent of it goes to homeownership and the majority of that goes to wealthy people.”

Ron Terwilliger is someone who not only understands the depth and scope of our nation’s housing problems, but who is doing something about it — through generosity, leadership and persistence. We congratulate him and thank him for his many contributions.

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