Governor Ralph Northam today highlighted his administration’s progress in enhancing the quality, availability, and affordability of housing in the Commonwealth.
Speaking at the 2019 Virginia Governor’s Housing Conference in Hampton, Governor Northam announced several accomplishments since he signed Executive Order Twenty-Five in November 2018. The executive order outlined the administration’s priorities to confront the Commonwealth’s unmet housing needs by increasing the supply of permanent supportive housing, addressing the shortage of quality, affordable housing, and reducing the rate of evictions across Virginia.
“Having a stable, safe, and affordable place to live is a key part of keeping a job, getting an education, and leading a healthy, productive life,” said Governor Northam. “I am proud of the progress we have made to address our most pressing housing challenges, but we know there is much work left to do. I remain committed to ensuring that we meet the demand for affordable housing so that all Virginians have an equal opportunity to thrive in our Commonwealth.”
Since the signing of Executive Order Twenty-Five, Governor Northam worked with the General Assembly to increase the Virginia Housing Trust Fund to $11 million, strengthening one of the state’s most flexible tools to combat homelessness and provide affordable housing and permanent supportive housing. As a result, the Commonwealth was able to finance more than 15 additional affordable housing initiatives that support moderate- and low-income families this fiscal year. There has been a continued drop in homelessness across Virginia, with the most recent data showing a 36 percent reduction in overall homelessness since 2010.
Earlier this year, the General Assembly authorized an eviction diversion pilot program that will launch in four communities in July 2020 to help address the high eviction rates in Virginia. An additional $1.3 million in legal aid has been allocated to fund 17 housing attorneys in legal aid offices around the state. The Virginia Poverty Law Center also received private funding to create an evictions helpline, growing the legal aid opportunities for individuals facing evictions.
“The Governor’s executive order is key to continuing our efforts to create strong, sustainable, and thriving communities for all Virginians,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “We look forward to continuing our work together with members of the General Assembly, as well as our public and private partners, to address these priorities and to provide affordable housing throughout Virginia.”
The Commonwealth was recently awarded additional funding from public and private partners, bolstering Virginia’s efforts to increase affordable housing and decrease homelessness, especially among the most vulnerable populations.
Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded nearly $5.9 million in annual funding to public housing agencies throughout Virginia, providing permanent affordable housing to an additional 729 residents living with disabilities through the Mainstream Housing Choice Voucher Program. This funding is part of $131.3 million awarded to 325 local public housing authorities across the country to provide permanent affordable housing to nearly 15,363 additional non-elderly persons with disabilities.
The Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta also recently announced that it will award Virginia $6.9 million in affordable housing funds and partner with local for-profit and nonprofit developers to assist in the acquisition, new construction, rehabilitation, or preservation of over 1,200 affordable rental and homeownership units the Commonwealth.