Autumn on Lake Audobon

Autumn on Lake Audobon
Autumn on Lake Audubon, Photo by Alison Kamat

Saturday, October 18, 2014

RCA article and letter on Lake Anne Fellowship House redevelopment

The following is cross-posted from the Reston Citizens Association blog. 

RESTON MASTER PLAN and LAKE ANNE FELLOWSHIP HOUSE

RCA feels it is urgent that the greater Reston community understands the implications of development on one of our Reston Comprehensive Plan ten Planning Principles which is “housing provided for all ages and incomes.”[1] Our community support is needed to ensure that land owners and potential developers respect and honor our Plan.
 
Who Lives at Lake Anne Fellowship House (LAFH): Folks 62 or older on limited fixed incomes and those of any age with a qualifying disability and income. A good description is at fellowshipsquare.org/fsf/who-are-we.

Who owns it: Fellowship Square Foundation (FSF), a non-profit provider of affordable housing for the elderly and disabled in the DC metropolitan area. They own and operate LAFH, Reston’s Hunters Woods Fellowship House and two others.
The FSF website does not currently post a mission statement, but we find this on page 5 of their 2013 annual report:
“We specialize in financially fragile residents. We celebrate that we make a difference in their lives and the life of the community they live in.”
The original purpose of the Foundation according to its founder Dr. John Scherzer, told to the RCA on March 13, 1970:
“The purpose of the Foundation as set forth in our Charter is to sponsor adequate retirement facilities for lower and middle income people who must depend for their livelihood upon the fixed income from civil service retirement and/or Social Security.”[2]
 
How LAFH Came to Be: In 1970, FSF purchased the land that LAFH sits on for $138,000. On this property at the corner of North Shore Drive and Village Road two adjoining buildings were built with HUD and VHDA[3] loans.
 
What LAFH is not: It is not an assisted living or skilled nursing facility. Although it is not ADA compliant by current standards, LAFH remains accessible for the majority of current and potential residents. As the founder of FSF said in the briefing to the RCA in 1970: “All our plans have been focused upon the features of comfort and convenience for people . . . who are active, self-sufficient and independent.”[4] LAFH today still fulfills this need.
 
Why should you care? Because this could be you, your sibling, parent, best friend. Medical bills are the #1 cause of bankruptcy[5] in the United States. Retirement planning can quickly go awry and one can be left with little more than Social Security income to live on. Let our Fairfax County staff and government know that you support the Reston Comprehensive Planning Principle for “housing provided for all ages and incomes.”
 
Know someone who might want to live there? Get on the waiting list now. When you call or stop by, do not be deterred if told “no vacancies.” This is what RCA Board member Connie Hartke was told. Sources indicate there are approximately 30 of the 124 “market rate” apartments vacant.[6]  When Connie pressed that she was inquiring for a market rate (unsubsidized) apartment (monthly rental of $483 - $803), she was told there is a 4-5 month waiting list. One apartment that has been vacant for over 10 years was just rented. It seems the waiting list might move along if more of the vacant apartments are made available.
 
Several of us in the Reston Citizens Association (RCA) have friends who live at Lake Anne Fellowship House (LAFH) and we have visited the buildings and their apartments. What we find is comfortable, clean and quite adequate for many.
 
What does the future hold for LAFH? RCA will be following developments closely since we believe that just as in 1970, Reston still cherishes the “proposal to make the limited-income elderly a planned part of the social structure of the new community envisioned by Mr. Simon . . .”[7]
 
When FSF teamed with a developer not experienced in the affordable housing market, residents were frightened. They wrote a letter to FSF which has been signed by 183 (71 percent) of the residents. [8] They are a community, and they are part of our Reston community.
 
Follow us on facebook.com/RestonRCA and subscribe to our newsletter at RCAreston.com. We’ll keep you informed.



[1] Staff, DPZ. WorkingDraft (Strawman) of Reston Master Plan (n.d.): n. page 11 in print, page 14 online. Web.
[2] Erickson, Jack. A Mission to Serve: The Life of John A. Scherzer and the Birth of Fellowship Square Foundation. Reston, VA: RedBrick, 1989. 54. Print.
[3] VHDA = Virginia Housing Development Authority. This mortgage will be paid off in 2016. At that time, the current rental assistance program can be converted to Section 8 assistance.
[4] Erickson, Jack. A Mission to Serve: The Life of John A. Scherzer and the Birth of Fellowship Square Foundation. Reston, VA: RedBrick, 1989. 54. Print.
[5] LaMontagne, Christina. "Medical Bankruptcy Accounts for Majority of Personal Bankruptcies" NerdWallet Health, 26 Mar. 2014. Web. 17 Oct. 2014.
[6] FSF 2013Annual Report, pages 17 and 19
[7] Erickson, Jack. A Mission to Serve: The Life of John A. Scherzer and the Birth of Fellowship Square Foundation. Reston, VA: RedBrick, 1989. 58. Print.

 LAKE ANNE FELLOWSHIP HOUSE
11450 North Shore Drive
Reston, Virginia 20190
An Open Letter to the President of Fellowship Square Foundation
July 10, 2014
Mr. Charles Wortman
President
Fellowship Square Foundation, Inc.
250 Exchange Place, Suite G
Herndon, VA  20170
Dear Mr. Wortman:
The sudden disclosure that rent subsidies for 87 residents of Building 2 of Lake Anne Fellowship House will end in September 2016, followed by the priority relocation of all Building 1 residents – ahead of those in Building 2 – to the new building planned for the corner of our property is shocking, outrageous, discriminatory, possibly illegal – and certainly unfair.
This makes a mockery of the long-proclaimed mission of Fellowship Square to care for the most disadvantaged among us.  Many in Building 2 have been active and productive members of this community for several years.  We have come here for very personal reasons and to be close to our families. To be cast adrift at this point in our lives is unconscionable.  We will suffer extreme anguish and hardship as we struggle to survive.
We, the undersigned, living in both Buildings 1 and 2, now call on you and Fellowship Square to take immediate action to reverse and revise the unjust provisions related to the Lake Anne Fellowship House Redevelopment Plan that will substantially reduce our resident population – by nearly one half – in favor of outside financial interests and planned development in other parts of Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C.
Specifically, we demand that you expand the size and scope of your new Fellowship House building to accommodate ALL of our residents, as our present homes disappear.
Only then can the Rev. Dr. John Scherzer rest in peace.
(signed by 183 residents as of 10/10/2014)

2 comments:

  1. How can rent subsidies be stopped? FSF just stops accepting subsidies? Or the government stops issuing them? And this is legal how? Sounds like old Reston values are being replaced with county values: The bottom line for developers is the only thing that counts in Fairfax County.

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    Replies
    1. Excellent question! The current rent subsidies for the Lake Anne buildings are tied to their mortgages which mature in 2016 and 2023. The current subsidies expire with the mortgages.
      There are, however, ways to extend those mortgage-based subsidies and HUD also offers a variety of other Section 8 subsidy programs (besides the "voucher" program that NOVUS planned to use to force out residents of 100 units) that Fellowship Square Foundation--which owns the Lake Anne property (as well as Hunters Woods)--may apply for.
      They are now in a bind because they have wasted so much time developing a very poor redevelopment option that would have booted out residents and added scores of market-rate units to the new development in excess of what is permitted for the area's plan.
      The County has been very supportive of keeping at least the existing number of subsidized units at Lake Anne Fellowship House. That's one reason they rejected the Fellowship-NOVUS redevelopment proposal.

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