The Terwilliger Family Foundation Pledges $1.5 Million for APAH’s Innovative American Legion Post 139 Housing Project

The gift underscores the project’s promise as a new model for affordable housing

Rendering of the development.

Arlington, VA (August 5, 2019) – The Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH) today announced that housing champions Ron and Fran Terwilliger have pledged $1.5 million for the redevelopment of American Legion Post 139 in Virginia Square through their Terwilliger Family Foundation. The gift is the largest personal contribution APAH has ever received.

“An affordable, safe home is the first step toward a better life,” Ron Terwilliger said. “The high cost of housing and long commutes to work can drive low-income families deeper into poverty. Innovative projects like this are a key part of our efforts to address the acute housing affordability crisis affecting our country.”

Once completed, the 1.3-acre development will feature 160 affordable quality apartments and a new, modern 6,000 square foot facility for Legion Post 139. Veterans will be given priority placement in half of the building’s 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom units.
The center will provide support services such as financial literacy programs, workforce development, and tutoring for resident youth. The first floor of the seven-story building will feature a new, modern space for Post 139 with amenities such as private counseling spaces, community activity rooms and a computer lab.

“In honor of the family’s incredible generosity, the new complex will be named Lucille and Bruce Terwilliger Place in honor of Ron and brother Bruce Terwilliger’s parents,” said APAH CEO Nina Janopaul.

Ron Terwilliger began his life in Arlington, growing up modestly in South Arlington and attending Barcroft Elementary School. At Wakefield High School, he was an academic and athletic star, and went on to earn an appointment to the US Naval Academy. After leaving the Navy and graduating from Harvard Business School, Ron worked his way up in the real estate business, serving as CEO of Trammell Crow Residential (TCR) from 1986 to 2008. During his leadership, TCR was the largest developer of multi-family housing in the nation.

“As a child, my father worked two jobs to make sure that we had a safe, stable home right here in Arlington. His sacrifices gave Bruce and me the chance to attend good schools and pursue our dreams,” Ron Terwilliger said. “Today, the high cost of housing puts that dream out of reach for too many families. Projects like this are essential to helping people of all incomes and backgrounds continue to call Arlington home.”

Governor Northam awards APAH and others
loans from the Virginia Housing Trust Fund
at the current Post 139 property.

When the Legion decided to sell the 1.3 acres of prime property in Virginia Square in 2016, APAH proposed a mixed-use space that would allow the Legion to stay in place and expand its mission to meet the needs of local veterans and low-income families. It is a novel approach to addressing the challenge of finding space for affordable housing in expensive urban centers.

“The redevelopment of Legion Post 139 into Lucille and Bruce Terwilliger Place is believed to be the first of its kind in the nation and could serve as a model for other Legion posts interested in responding to the changing needs of the communities they serve,” Janopaul said. “We are so honored that the Terwilliger family, leading advocates of affordable housing, are helping us make this dream a reality.”

“This project embodies two of the Legion’s most important missions – to help active duty personnel, military veterans and their families, and to be responsible citizens,” said Legion Post 139 Commander Bob Romano. “The Terwilliger family’s generosity is a great endorsement of what we are trying to do here. We hope it will serve as a model for other Legion posts. It just makes sense.”



About APAH: APAH’s mission is to develop, preserve, and own quality, affordable places to live; to promote stability and opportunity for our residents; and to advocate with the people and communities we serve. Founded in 1989, APAH now helps more than 1,600 households live in stable, secure and affordable rental homes. APAH is working to bring more than 1,000 additional affordable apartments to the DC metro area over the next 5 years. Its newest project, Columbia Hills Apartments, received the 2019 ULI Washington Trends Award for Excellence in Affordable Housing.

About Ron Terwilliger: J. Ronald Terwilliger was recognized as APAH’s 2018 Celebrate Home honoree. Since his retirement, from Trammell Crow Residential, Terwilliger has turned his attention and passion to the nation’s urgent need to provide decent affordable housing. He created the Terwilliger Center for Workforce Housing at the Urban Land Institute, has chaired multiple boards including Enterprise Community Partners, Habitat for Humanity International and the I Have Dream Foundation. Working with other housing experts and political leaders, he was a leader in the Bipartisan Policy Center Housing Commission and has tirelessly walked the halls of Congress advocating for a more fair and effective national housing policy.

Terwilliger has served on many Boards, including Trustee and past Chairman of the Urban Land Institute, Chairman Emeritus of the Wharton Real Estate Center, past Chairman of the Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership, past Chairman of National Homebuilders Multifamily Leadership Board, as well as philanthropically supporting Habitat for Humanity both nationally and internationally.

Notable honors include the ULI Atlanta Community Achievement Award; US Naval Academy Distinguished Graduate Award; Horatio Alger Fellow; the Hearthstone Builder Humanity Award; election to the National Association of Homebuilders Hall of Fame; National Housing Conference Person of the Year Award; the National Patriotism Award; and the ULI J. C. Nichols Prize for Visionary Development. In 2014, he established the J. Ronald Terwilliger Foundation for Housing America’s Families to address our nation’s critical affordable housing challenges and to meet the housing needs of future generations through federal housing policy.

Download the press release here

Media coverage:
Arlington American Legion redevelopment scores $1.5 million private gift  |  Washington Business Journal
American Legion post overhaul in Arlington gets $1.5 million boost |  Washington Post
*  Philanthropic effort aids Arlington affordable-housing project |  Inside Nova/ Arlington SunGazette
Foundation Pledges $1.5 Million for American Legion Post 139 Housing Project |  Arlington Connection / Connection Newspapers
Terwilliger family donates $1.5M to Arlington affordable housing development |  WDVM
*  Arlington Native Gifts $1.5 million for Va. Square Affordable Housing Development |  ARLNow
* Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing Awarded $1.5 Million |  Philanthropy News Digest
* Arlington American Legion redevelopment scores $1.5 million private gift |  Property Blog
New home for Virginia post also means shelter for homeless veterans |  American Legion
* Arlington native gifts $1.5 million for Va. Square affordable housing development |  WTOP News