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After-School Program a Win-Win for Parents, Kids

Affordable Housing Corporation provides resident services at Harvey Hall, five other properties in Arlington.

If it were not for a special program in her Harvey Hall apartment complex, Theresa Washington does not know where she would send her 8-year-old daughter Breana after school. Washington, like many other working parents, faces the yearly crunch of finding a safe and affordable place for her child to go once the school day is over.

WITH THE HELP of the Affordable Housing Corporation (AHC), Washington's search was a little easier than it is for most parents. Each weekday she knows that Breana, one of 18 children who attend Harvey Hall's elementary after-school program, is under the supervision of a trusted adult.

"If my daughter wasn't here I don't know what I would do because I would have to try to do extended-day at the school," Washington said. "But that's sometimes not long enough and very expensive."

The Affordable Housing Corporation, which owns 19 properties in Arlington, has helped house moderate- and low-income families for more than three decades. The company has sponsored a Resident Services program at its properties for teenagers and younger children for more than a decade. Besides six after-school programs, AHC also offers tutoring and summer camps.

"We recognized that many of our residents needed help if they were going to improve their mobility within the community," AHC Director of Community Relations Catherine Bucknam said. "We realized more and more that the children were the best place to start in trying to help residents."

Eighteen kids are enrolled at each of the six after-school programs. While AHC residents get first priority for registration, other low-income families in the neighborhood can sign up though there is often a waiting list.

"We feel like if we took anymore it would take away from the quality of the program and the experience for each child," said AHC Resident Services Director Jennifer Endo.

According to Bucknam, AHC began the Resident Services programs mainly to help residents, but also to help protect their property. "By keeping the kid's engaged in activities, we helped to reduce vandalism that was going on, on the properties." she said.

JOY RAMBERT, who has helped run the Harvey Hall program since 2001, said it was important for the children to be under the supervision of reliable adults.