health

AHDC Community Wellness Series: Transit and Green Buildings

AHDC Community Wellness Series: Green growth with transit-centered development and EarthCraft

Alexandria Housing Development Corporation (AHDC) understands that housing is a fundamental part of promoting Alexandria’s community health. Our goal is to make sure that our residents not only have quality and affordable housing options, but that our properties afford access to and build capacity for wellness in the City. We’ll be talking about AHDC’s commitment to community wellness in the next few weeks, both where we are now and where are going.

Green development as a priority

AHDC is committed to green development as a part of our VISION 2020 strategic plan. We do this out of respect for our environment and for the health and well-being of all those who live within our properties. Here, we focus on two areas of our development goals that improve the environment and well-being of AHDC residents; transit aware development and EarthCraft certification.

1.       Transit connected properties

AHDC properties are all located in places that provide proximity to transit, which allows our residents greater access to the economic opportunities of Alexandria and our region while encouraging green movement and fuel-cost savings. Most AHDC properties are near to a Metrorail station in addition to bus lines – the Arbelo, Lacy Court, and the upcoming North Henry Apartments/Carpenter’s Shelter redevelopment are all under a mile away from Braddock Road station, while Longview Terrace is a mile from King Street Station. The Station at Potomac Yards sits close to the Metroway bus line and all the proposed sites for the Potomac Yard Metrorail station, and the Gateway at King and Beauregard is located at a planned bus rapid transit hub for the city’s “West End Transitway” project.

We are proud of our transit connectivity because it helps keep our environment clean. According to the American Public Transit Association (APTA), households near public transit drive an average of 4,400 miles less per year than households with no access, which reduces our collective carbon footprint. A single person switching a 20-mile round trip car commute to transit can reduce their carbon dioxide emissions by 4,800 pounds/year, which is more effective than winterizing a thermostat, replacing an old refrigerator, and replacing outdated lightbulbs – combined.[1]

Aside from the green implications, transit access allows our residents greater mobility around the region, which widens the economic opportunities they can pursue without being reliant upon a car. The APTA also notes that a family that can use transit to downsize to one car saves, on average, $9,823 a year.[2] For many families and individuals, the transit system may be their only opportunity for moving through the region.

 

2.       EarthCraft for healthy homes

 

AHDC builds properties with EarthCraft certification as a goal to be sure that new buildings use green materials and encourage health and wellness for those living inside them. EarthCraft certifications for multi-family housing are comprehensive, including scores on a wide range of items such as the inclusion of Energy Star appliances, use of locally sourced and recycled building materials, low-flow water fixtures, and more. Points towards certification can also be awarded for quality of life features such as community gardens and bike storage, both of which are included in upcoming AHDC projects. The certification process for EarthCraft ensures quality and consistency: A points-based worksheet is used to determine certification eligibility, confirmed by an in-person review from a technical advisor.

 

Additionally, EarthCraft is headquartered in Atlanta and maintains a unique focus on the southeast United States. Our region, with humid summers, cold winters, and Atlantic Ocean proximity, has different requirements for longevity and sustainability than the rest of the United States.  By focusing on the southeast, EarthCraft certification means that whatever we build is right for our local context.

 

AHDC is proud to commit to green solutions with every property that we own, as it improves the lives of our residents and Alexandrians at large. Affordable solutions can also be green solutions, and we’re determined to protect our environment in whatever ways we can while also providing quality homes for our residents.

 

[1] The Benefits of Public Transportation, https://www.apta.com/resources/reportsandpublications/documents/greenhouse_brochure.pdf

[2] APTA Media Center: Public Transportation Benefits http://www.apta.com/mediacenter/ptbenefits/Pages/default.aspx

 

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AHDC Community Wellness Series: Food Access

AHDC Community Wellness Series: Affordable Housing, Food Access, and Well-being

Alexandria Housing Development Corporation (AHDC) understands that housing is a fundamental part of promoting Alexandria’s community health. Our goal is to make sure that our residents not only have quality and affordable housing options, but that our properties afford access to and build capacity for wellness in the City. We’ll be talking about AHDC’s commitment to community wellness in the next few weeks, both where we are now and where are going.

The State of Fresh Food

Access to fresh food, vital for health, is made more difficult for many Americans because of geography and finances. 6% of American households struggle to buy healthy food because of their remote location or the costs of housing are prohibitive. Specifically in urban cores like the D.C. metro region, lack of access to healthy and affordable foods is associated with areas of greater income inequality. [1]

Additionally, Americans don’t consume enough fruits and vegetables. The CDC reports that in Virginia, 22.2% of adults have less than one serving of vegetables/day, and 38.4 have less than one serving of fruit/day.[2] Decreasing these percentages will result in greater community health outcomes.

The City of Alexandria is better equipped to handle these issues than most. We have an abundance of groceries within our borders, and access to locally grown and fresh foods via farmer’s markets promotes healthy and green consumption. People can thrive here – if they can afford to live here. With 90% of market affordable units from 2000 now gone, this is more of a challenge with every passing year.[3]

AHDC Properties and Improving Food Access

AHDC is working to make living in healthy Alexandria an option for all households. Our properties support access to fresh food in a variety of ways:

1.       Budget saving affordable rent - Because AHDC is exclusively focused on affordable housing within city limits, more low-to-moderate income residents have the chance to live local and reap the health benefits of Alexandria, without sacrificing their paycheck. Every dollar not spent on rent can be spent on fresh fruit, vegetables, dairy and whole grains for adults and children alike.

2.       Geographically Close to Supermarkets - Every AHDC property is located under approximately half a mile from a grocery store – a mere few minutes by car, and a walkable distance on foot. Alexandria enjoys a higher than average grocery store count per 1,000 residents[4], and AHDC makes that geographic benefit available to those who might otherwise be pushed out of the city.

3.       Urban Agriculture and Education - We use our designed spaces to promote urban agriculture that benefits our residents. At the Station at Potomac Yard, we partnered with Rooftop Roots to build an innovative urban rooftop garden which benefits AHDC residents. In our upcoming Carpenter’s Shelter renovation project, a 1,600 square foot production garden will likewise provide education and supplemental nutrition to future AHDC and Carpenter’s Shelter residents.

 

AHDC: Invested in Alexandria

We envision a diverse Alexandria where all people can live and thrive. We support environmentally friendly housing solutions, people oriented design, and community wellness both within our properties and in Alexandria at large. Learn more at housingalexandria.org.

 

 

 

 

[1]Access to Affordable and Nutritious Food: Measuring and Understanding Food Deserts and Their Consequences.” USDA, 2009.

[2] “State Indicator Report on Fruits and Vegetables”, CDC, 2013

[3] “Market Affordable 2017 Update”, City of Alexandria, 2017

[4] Alexandria County Food Access Statistics, HealthGrove.com

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