Background, History, Purpose of the Virginia Housing Alliance
The Virginia Housing Alliance (VHA) is a result of a merger between the Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness (VCEH) and the Virginia Housing Coalition (VHC), two statewide advocacy and education nonprofit organizations. VHA was launched on January 1, 2016, with a mission of expanding affordable housing opportunities and ending homelessness throughout the Commonwealth through advocacy, education, and collaboration. VHA will continue the important work of the VHC and the VCEH. VHA is overseen by a 17-member Board of Directors.
VHA’s focus areas are:
- Advocacy through developing and promoting a legislative and policy agenda that addresses State and Federal housing and homelessness issues.
- Education through Conferences, Learning Collaboratives, and the implementation of a new Virginia HELP (Housing Education Learning Partnership).
- Resources and Program Support through news and research reports and direct technical assistance to organizations and communities.
About VHC: The Virginia Housing Coalition was founded in 1981 specifically to support organizations and individuals working to provide affordable housing options in Virginia by influencing and developing public policy, recognizing exemplary achievement, and providing education, training, and services that made its members more effective in attaining their goals. VHC’s major work included lobbying at the General Assembly for the Housing Trust Fund and other key housing and homeless issues, coordinating Housing Day at the General Assembly, advocating for support for housing programs at the federal level, sponsoring an awards luncheon and a Low Income Housing Tax Credit Conference, communicating housing news and updates to members and other interested parties, and preparing and disseminating of reports, such as Home Matters.
About VCEH: Founded in 1989, VCEH’s mission was to prevent and end homelessness in the Commonwealth of Virginia through community collaboration, capacity building, education, and advocacy. VCEH’s major work consisted of training and technical assistance to local continuums of care (CoCs) and sponsoring forums, local meetings, and conferences, such as the Housing Virginia’s Most Vulnerable Conference. VCEH also served as an intermediary for a statewide AmeriCorps VISTA project to build CoC capacity, published reports such as The State of Virginia’s Homeless Crisis Response System, served on the Governor’s Coordinating Council on Homelessness and related committees (including the committee organized to implement the state’s plan to End Veteran Homelessness). VCEH also advocated at the State level for additional resources, such as funds for support services for homeless veterans and increasing and restoring funds for permanent supportive housing and rapid re-housing.
Why did the organizations merge?
- Similarities in our work and goals: VCEH and VHC have worked together for many years, especially on state legislative advocacy — such as the Housing Trust Fund, which has a set aside for homelessness — and funding for other homeless programs, such as Permanent Supportive Housing and Rapid Re-housing. Both organizations share the common mission of increasing the supply of permanent, affordable housing for low income Virginians. In addition to advocacy, VHC and VCEH have similar goals of capacity building through education and training.
- Greater policy impact: By joining forces, VHC and VCEH will have a greater impact on policy decisions and resources for housing and homelessness at the state and federal level, as well as increasing awareness in the community of the need for and benefit of affordable housing.
- Shared focus on affordable housing: As the solutions to homelessness have evolved from short-term to long-term strategies, the industry has shifted emphasis from shelters to permanent affordable housing. More and more, the lines between homeless service providers and housing providers have blurred as many homeless service organizations are creating affordable housing for their clientele and many housing organizations are housing homeless individuals and families.
- Organizational sustainability: A combined organization will achieve greater operating efficiency and will contribute to enhanced sustainability. Appeals to funders will be stronger and more effective from a combined organization.