From the CEO
Just prior to our convention in D.C. last month, APA received some good news from the city of Washington. The D.C. City Council voted to extend an annual real estate tax abatement (currently about $1 million) to APA, significantly improving our ability to meet our members' needs, as well as those of our local service programs. In exchange for this annual tax abatement, APA has agreed to do a number of things for the city, but most notably, to bring our convention to D.C. every three years, beginning once all existing contracts with convention sites have been fulfilled. This represents a win-win situation for both APA and D.C. APA benefits from the reduced tax burden on our headquarters building. The city receives the numerous economic benefits and job creation associated with our convention, since holding our convention in Washington, D.C., every third year will more than compensate the District for any revenue loss associated with the reinstatement of APA's partial tax exemption.
Our longstanding partnership with D.C.
Incorporated in the District of Columbia in 1925, APA has maintained its headquarters in Washington, D.C., since the late 1940s. Today, APA has more than 150,000 members and employs over 500 people at our headquarters. However, in the late 1980s, approximately half of our staff were housed in Arlington, Va. At that time, we searched for a new headquarters property in the District to consolidate our operations. Based on a powerful incentive from the D.C. City Council, a 100 percent real estate tax abatement for five years and 50 percent for the next five years, APA committed to building our present headquarters building at 750 First Street NE. Prior to APA building construction, its site northwest of Union Station was in a woefully underdeveloped area. The commitment of APA to build there greatly enhanced the revitalization of the area. In the mid 1990s, APA further improved the area with the construction of a second commercial office building. The initial real estate tax abatements that the D.C. Council granted to APA expired in 2003.
Contributions of APA to the city
Since moving into our new building in 1992, APA has been proud to initiate a number of activities that directly support the local community. These are really too numerous to outline them all here, but I will mention a few. APA has been an active supporter of the "I Have a Dream" Foundation of Washington, D.C., for the past 10 years. The "I Have a Dream" Program helps children from low-income areas reach their education and career goals by providing a long-term program of mentoring, tutoring and enrichment with an assured opportunity for higher education. Also, through our Minority Fellowship Program, local psychologists provided the students with psychological evaluations, testing and counseling. APA donated 100 computers for students' use. Additionally, for several summers, APA provided one student with a summer internship. The "I Have a Dream" class is now college bound.
APA has also been actively involved in community efforts to improve the North Capitol Hill neighborhood where APA is located. On its own initiative and expense, APA widened the sidewalk near our second building and provided additional lighting to an area that was previously enclosed with a chain link fence. We have also worked with a consortium of neighboring property owners to provide additional street cleaning to supplement city services.
The APA Practice Directorate has approached officials in the D.C. school system to offer a network of pro bono psychologists to establish a program that would teach students to develop the skills of resilience. Students in D.C. have been exposed not only to school shootings and gang activity, as well as the normal stressors of student life, but also to the stressors unique to living in the nation's capital, such as the Pentagon terrorist attack, deployment of family and friends to Iraq and heightened levels of security alerts.
APA regularly hires local residents who participate in the Green Door program. The Green Door is a mental health services agency that helps people with serious mental illness find employment and places to live. We also make annual financial contributions to local groups serving the low-income community in D.C., such as the House of Ruth, the D.C. Central Kitchen and Bread for the City.
Thanks to APA staff
To conclude, I want to express my thanks to our financial staff for developing the idea of requesting a new tax abatement from the city and putting together the successful proposal to the D.C. City Council. Clearly a win-win for all.Final approval is anticipated this month after a congressional review period that is mandatory for all D.C. legislation.