ALEXANDRIA, Va. — A huge investment from Amazon will mean more affordable housing is going to be built in an Alexandria development.
The neighborhood of Arlandria - a mainly immigrant community next to Del Ray - is getting nearly 200 affordable units. It follows significant investment to preserve and build more affordable housing in the community that is most at risk of gentrification when Amazon’s new headquarters moves to Crystal City.
But will the rent be low enough for the current residents to afford to stay? Let's Verify.
Will the rent be low enough to keep people in their homes?
According to an online news release from the Alexandria Housing Development Corporation, a $51.4 million low-interest loan from the Amazon Housing Equity Fund helped the non-profit purchase the Park Vue apartments in Arlandria. AHDC said a 99-year lease commitment and said the 14-story apartment complex will be set aside for affordable housing with rents for “households making up to 60% of the area median income.”
According to the group’s 2020 table of area median incomes, 60% AMI is just over $75,000 for a family of 4.
“Amazon money, it's going to housing, which is great, but it's not necessarily for our families,” said Ingris Moran of Tenant and Workers United. “These families are earning 40% of the AMI or below. So, when we hear projects that are in between the 60% AMI to 80% AMI, it's concerning, because it's still at risk of displacing our communities.” Moran said their families are mainly immigrant, low-wage workers living in Arlandria – or as locals call it Chirilagua named after a town in El Salvador. Tenants and Workers United has been fighting against possible displacement when their new neighbor, Amazon’s HQ2, arrives.
Moran said there are nearly 2,000 families making 40% of the AMI and the data tells us that’s about $50,000 a year for a family of 4.
According to the Amazon Housing Equity Fund FAQ sheet, the $2 Billion fund is meant to preserve and create 20,000 affordable units between 30% and 80% AMI.
That’s why Moran feels there’s flexibility in the program to offer deeply affordable units that will likely keep more people in their homes.
“We know that it's possible because there is the Arlandria HDC project in which the city (Housing Authority) is supporting financially this project, which is 25% of all those units are for 40% AMI. So, I think it's about how priority is it for the city,” she said.
AHDC said they will take over this property in the next several years and promises that for now families who currently live in Park Vue will NOT be displaced or see a change in their rents.