Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Loan for 52 Units

Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Loan for 52 Units

I am writing to express my concern regarding several points raised in Michael Lee Pope’s article “Larger Loan” published on Oct. 31, 2019. As the CEO of the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority, I was proud to submit a request to the City Council for additional funds to complete the Ramsey Homes construction. These additional funds allow for the replacement of the 15 public housing units that were demolished on the site, and add 37 new rental units affordable to working families in Alexandria.

At a time when Congress has dramatically reduced the capital funds public housing authorities traditionally rely on to replace aging public housing units, and when the City is struggling to increase the amount of rental units affordable to working residents, the 52 units at Ramsey represent a step towards addressing a critical need within our community. The development has been “challenging” since its inception for a number of reasons that are too numerous to list here.

The $1.4M loan that Mr. Pope implies is a “hand out” to the development is far from it. The loan will be repaid, as have other loans from the City, from the cash flow generated from the operations of Ramsey. It is important to note that the loan comes from a fund established by the City to finance affordable housing projects sponsored by ARHA. So as the loan is repaid, ARHA will reinvest the funds in future housing developments that will benefit all residents of the City of Alexandria.

The loan is an investment by the City to address the shortage of affordable housing options which very low and moderate income working families face daily in Alexandria.

To me, the historical significance of Ramsey will rest in its future as a source of quality housing for working and low income families challenged by the increasingly high rents in our community. I am proud of this loan. I look forward to the ribbon cutting celebration when 52 households, which hopefully will include some of the prior residents, will call the new Ramsey their home.

Keith Pettigrew

ARHA Chief Executive Officer