F.C. City Receives Amazon Grant for Affordable Housing

The City of Falls Church has been selected by Virginia Housing to receive $3,750,000 in grants for affordable housing initiatives as part of Amazon’s commitments to the Northern Virginia region for bringing their HQ2 to National Landing, the City’s Public Information Office reported today.

The City will receive $3,400,000 for a new affordable housing homeownership program and $350,000 to extend availability of nine committed affordable apartments at the Read Building (402 W. Broad St.).

“Ensuring affordable access to housing for all is a key priority for the City Council and our community as a whole,” said City of Falls Church Mayor David Tarter. “We are delighted that Virginia Housing has awarded this grant, and appreciative to Senator Dick Saslaw (VA-35) for his efforts to bring this important program to the City.”

Amazon made a five year, $15 million annual commitment to support affordable housing in the region. The annual grants are being managed by Virginia Housing through their REACH Virginia program.

“This grant award is a major step forward for the City in creating new affordable homeownership and preserving existing affordable housing,” said Council Member Letty Hardi, who is also the Council liaison to the Housing Commission. “Homeownership has been increasingly out of reach for many, and this is an innovative first step to reverse the trend. We look forward to working with our partners to put these funds to good use for the community.”

The new homeownership program will be directly managed by The NHP Foundation (NHPF) with support from the City’s Housing and Human Services Department. The City estimates that with this funding, 18 qualified first-time home buyers will be able to purchase rehabilitated homes through NHPF for approximately $425,000 to $525,000. The program maximizes homeowner affordability and sustainability using Virginia Housing Special Lending Programs and mortgage credit certificates, and local down payment assistance.

While the home acquired could include all property types — single family homes, townhouses, and condominiums — most are expected to be condominiums. The City estimates that once the program is established, it will take about one year for NHPF to purchase, rehabilitate, and resell the homes.

NHPF has a successful track record of managing this type of program. NHPF also currently manages the Winter Hill Apartments in the City of Falls Church.

“We are pleased to be working with NHPF in this new program,” said Dana Lewis, Deputy Director of HHS for the City of Falls Church. “We’ve already received several calls from interested homebuyers, so we’re excited to get the program established.”

Grant funds will also go toward extending the subsidy on the Workforce Units at the Read Building. The program started in 2006 with an innovative partnership between the City and Jefferson 402 LLC. Nine apartments in the Read Building are reserved for qualified renters, including Falls Church City Public School teachers and staff and City of Falls Church government employees.

The City proposes to provide a one-time payment, estimated at $350,000 to the owner to retain affordability of these nine apartments for an additional 10 years to December 31, 2032. These funds would be used to provide for the difference between market rate and the workforce rental rate for the duration of the extended covenant control period.

The preservation and creation of affordable housing are key components of the principles of the City’s Comprehensive Plan and Affordable Living Policy.

“In the City, there is a gap between what many households can afford and available rental and ownership homes,” said Nancy Vincent, Director of the City’s Housing and Human Services Department. “These grant funds help address the diverse housing needs of the City’s current and future populations.“