Our History

Fifty years ago, former schoolteacher Virginia Peters established Wesley Housing Development Corporation in response to a study by her church’s affordable housing task force that revealed the staggering number of low and moderate-income families, older adults, and individuals with disabilities with few or no viable options for decent, affordable housing. Her efforts were visionary and groundbreaking.

Wesley Housing Milestones

Take a look back in history and see the work that laid the foundation for who Wesley Housing is today.

  • 1974


    The establishment of the nonprofit organization resulted from the 1974 Urban Consultation sponsored by the United Methodist Church in Northern Virginia. Ms. Virginia Peters chaired the Affordable Housing Task Force and Wesley Housing Development Corporation (WHDC) was born.

    The organization was little more than a cardboard box of files in the back of Peters’ car.

  • 1978

    Virginia Peters becomes the founder and first president of WHDC.

    “I am a woman, a wife, a mother, an elementary school teacher, and a volunteer who with on the job training, became a housing professional.”
    Virginia Peters



  • 1979


    WHDC broke ground on its first community, the 128-unit Strawbridge Square Apartments. Wesley purchased this prime real estate for $1 from developer Raymond M. Lynch, an advocate of affordable housing and education for low-income residents.

  • 1981-85

    Six projects were created under the direction of Virginia Peters: Knightsbridge Apartments, Mt. Pleasant Circle, Wexford Manor Apartments, Seven Corners Apartments, Patrick Henry Apartments, and Whitefield Commons Apartments.



  • 1988


    Wesley Property Management Company, Inc. is created.

  • 1987-92

    Five projects completed: Perry S. Hall Apartments, Springdale House, William Watters Apartments, Colonial Village Apartments, and Pierce Queen Apartments.



  • 1997


    Virginia Peters retires as executive director and founder of WHDC. She served as Executive Director of Wesley from 1979 through 1997 and remained on the Board of Directors until her death in 2004. WHDC hires its first CEO, John Stern.

  • 1999

    Al Smuzynski becomes President and CEO of WHDC.



  • 1999-2006


    WHDC acquired 611 affordable housing units throughout Alexandria, Centreville, Fairfax County, Herndon, and Manassas, and achieved several noteworthy milestones:

    Wesley Agape House became the first project in Northern Virginia to provide social services as well as affordable housing for individuals and their families living with chronic illness. Agape House was named Best Social Services Program by Housing Association of Nonprofit Developers (HAND).

    WHDC developed its first residence exclusively for low- to moderate-income seniors (Quarry Station Seniors Apartments), and broke ground on Northern Virginia’s first barrier-free complex for very low-income, physically disabled persons (Coppermine Place I).

  • 2007

    Shelley Murphy joins WHDC as President and CEO.



  • 2009-19


    WHDC more than doubled its number of affordable housing units and residents served.

    In 2011, the Housing Stability Initiative was launched, expanding resident services and offering eviction prevention, linkage and referral, career enhancement, and material assistance/in-kind support to all residents.

    WHDC acquired its first property in The District, Brookland Place Apartments.

    WHDC was named Developer of the Year in 2017 by the Housing Association of Nonprofit Developers (HAND). In 2018 Wexford Manor received Best Large Affordable Housing Project award by HAND.

    The Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future (SAHF) recognized Wesley Housing as a Certified Organization for Resident Engagement & Services (CORES), one of the first affordable housing providers nationally to receive this certification.

  • 2020

    Wesley Housing surpassed 3,200 residents served and launched a new, refreshed brand with a focus on building up.

    Wesley Housing’s Housing Stability Initiative was awarded Best Housing Program at the Virginia Governor’s Housing Conference, demonstrating innovative and creative efforts in providing services or assistance to citizens with housing needs.

    The Wesley Housing of 2020 ended the year with nearly 85 employees and is becoming one of the most far-reaching, developers, owners, and operators of affordable housing in the DMV.



  • Present


    Named one of the top 50 affordable housing developers in the country, Wesley Housing has over 700 units in the pipelineand is currently serving 3,800 residents throughout the Washington, DC metro region.

Wesley Housing Properties Gallery The Arden 5

Looking Ahead

Our 2019-2023 strategic plan sets forth a bold agenda for expanding affordable housing in Northern Virginia, Washington, DC, and suburban Maryland and for offering supportive services to every resident who needs them. Learn more about the aspirational goals we’ve created as a framework for advancing our mission and vision over the next few years.