Sep 27, 2022

HYBLA VALLEY, VA — A community in the Richmond Highway will be preserved as affordable housing through a $2 million Amazon gift to Good Shepherd Housing.

Good Shepherd Housing, a Richmond Highway corridor nonprofit, was selected to receive the gift to keep the 18 units at Colchester Towne Condominium as affordable housing. Colchester Towne is a community at 7988 Audubon Avenue in the Hybla Valley area. The $2 million gift is the largest single gift in the nonprofit’s history.

“We are thrilled, on behalf of our residents and future residents, for Amazon’s incredible commitment to preserving affordable housing along Richmond Highway,” said David Levine, president and CEO of Good Shepherd Housing, in a statement. “This gift ensures more working families and individuals will have the opportunity to access a safe, secure place to live, along with our supportive case management services to help them achieve long-term housing security.”

Good Shepherd Housing had launched the Campaign for Colchester in 2018 to acquire 30 additional units in Colchester Towne Condominium. Colchester Towne. The campaign had raised enough funds to purchase 12 units before Amazon’s gift. The Amazon contribution to purchase 18 units helped the campaign meet its goal.

The nonprofit has bought eight of the 18 units in Colchester Towne Condominium and will acquire 10 more over five years when they become available.

The $2 million gift comes through the Amazon Housing Equity Fund, which has committed to preserving over 6,200 affordable homes in the DC region. The fund supports preserving and creating affordable housing in three areas where Amazon has a major presence, the Arlington, Virginia area; Washington state’s Puget Sound region; and Nashville, Tennessee.

“We’re grateful for the chance to support Good Shepherd Housing’s efforts to create much-needed affordable housing in Alexandria,” said Catherine Buell, director of the Amazon Housing Equity Fund, in a statement. “This project aligns perfectly with our efforts to help create quality affordable housing in partnership with local organizations throughout the region.”

The contribution comes as county officials seek to transform the Richmond Highway corridor, encouraging development through investments in a new Bus Rapid Transit system. According to a 2021 market assessment study, the Richmond Highway corridor could see residential growth from redevelopment of older garden apartment complexes, older shopping centers and other opportunities for higher density development.

“Franconia District and the broader Richmond Highway community are currently on the cusp of a period of tremendous transformation,” said Franconia District Supervisor Rodney Lusk, who represents part of the Richmond Highway corridor. “The employers, property owners, and entrepreneurs who will most benefit from that transformation must help ensure their success is not built on the displacement of residents who have called Richmond Highway home for generations. With this investment, Amazon is clearly demonstrating that they understand that obligation.”

Good Shepherd Housing has been providing permanent affordable housing, emergency financial services, budget counseling and case management to Fairfax County families since 1974. The nonprofit’s mission is to reduce homelessness, increase community support, and promote self-sufficiency among working class families in need.

A ribbon cutting ceremony is planned Thursday with Good Shepherd Housing volunteers, donors and the community to celebrate the $2 million gift.

Originally published in the Patch.