County, Amazon Partner to Preserve 1300+ Affordable Homes in Arlington

Published on December 14, 2021

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ARLINGTON, VA – Arlington County and Amazon are making significant investments to help preserve more than 1,300 affordable apartment homes at the 60-acre Barcroft Apartment community for 99 years—one of the single largest affordable housing efforts ever in the region.

At its Tuesday, Dec. 14, meeting, the County Board committed to a loan of $150 million to support acquisition of the property. In addition, Amazon is committing $160 million in a low-rate loan from the Amazon Housing Equity Fund to support the preservation. The County’s and Amazon’s funding will also support the developer in addressing immediate repairs, adding amenities, making property upgrades, and taking steps to improve residents’ overall living environment.

The County’s commitment is the first public step in a real estate deal that will be finalized later this month. The agreement ensures that the Barcroft property keeps its affordability for generations to come. After closing, residents currently living at Barcroft apartments will be assured they can continue to live in their homes and their rents will remain at the current rent levels for the first year. Future rents will be capped at no more than a 3% increase per year (up to 60% of the Area Median Income rent levels).

“The shortage of affordable housing has been a chronic challenge for this region. By teaming up with Arlington County, Amazon can help be a part of the solution,” said Catherine Buell, director of the Amazon Housing Equity Fund. “Joining forces with a diverse group of public and private housing partners ensures that moderate- to low- income families are supported with access to opportunity and long-term financial stability. These families are the heart of our community and include teachers, law enforcement, construction and transit workers, just to name a few.”

Barcroft Apartments is located off South George Mason Drive, off the Columbia Pike corridor. It is known as one of the last affordable apartment communities in Arlington. The units currently have rents that are affordable to low-income households earning up to 60 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI), which for 2021 is $77,400 for a family for four in Arlington.

Preserving Barcroft Apartments would meet many of the goals, objectives and policies of the County’s adopted Affordable Housing Master Plan, preserving 1,334 affordable units. The project also commits all the units to 99-years of affordability and will add 659 family-sized units to the Committed Affordable Units (CAF) inventory. It also meets the goal of producing committed affordable rental units within transit corridors.

“Arlington County is committed to safe, stable affordable housing for Arlington residents,” said County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti.” This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to preserve the largest neighborhood of privately owned, naturally occurring affordable housing in the County. By our actions today, we take a big step toward ensuring that the 1,100 current families living in this community are able to stay in their homes and have safe and affordable housing for the foreseeable future.”

“Arlington Public Schools is pleased to hear about the commitment to preserve affordable housing for our Barcroft families,” shared Arlington School Board Chair Barbara Kanninen. “We look forward to ongoing collaboration with the County to support our families and students in every way possible.”

About Affordable Housing in Arlington

Affordable housing in Arlington County is guided by the County’s adopted Affordable Housing Master Plan. Arlington has a goal of ensuring 17.7% of rental housing stock is affordable by the year 2040. Currently 11.6% of Arlington’s rental housing stock is affordable to households earning less than 60% of the Area Median Income (AMI). Arlington has two types of affordable housing units: CAFS, which are required by agreement with the federal, state, or County government, or through mechanisms such as tax-exempt financing and recorded deed restrictions, and market-rate affordable units (MARKs), which are owned by the private owners.

The Affordable Housing Investment Fund (AHIF) is the main financing program for affordable housing development in Arlington. It is a revolving loan fund that provides incentives for developers through low-interest loans for new construction, acquisition, and rehabilitation of affordable housing.

About the Amazon Housing Equity Fund

In January 2021, Amazon announced the Amazon Housing Equity Fund, a more than $2 billion commitment to preserve and create over 20,000 affordable housing units in Washington state’s Puget Sound region; Arlington, Virginia; and Nashville, Tennessee.

The Amazon Housing Equity Fund’s first commitment in Arlington included low-rate loans and grants to the Washington Housing Conservancy to preserve affordable homes on the Crystal House property in Arlington. The commitment also included a donation of vacant land to Arlington County to create new affordable units on the property.

Since announcing its selection of Arlington as the site of its second headquarters three years ago, Amazon has donated more than $30 million to local nonprofits, community groups, and small businesses. These commitments are in addition to Amazon’s announcement earlier this year to create the Amazon Housing Equity Fund, which has so far committed over $500 million in low-rate loans and grants to create or preserve up to 2,300 affordable homes in the Arlington region, with more investments to come.