Purpose of the Formation of Virginia Housing Alliance
The Virginia Housing Alliance (VHA) was formed as a result of a merger between the Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness (VCEH) and the Virginia Housing Coalition Information Services (VHCIS). VHA and Virginia Housing Coalition (VHC), another statewide education and advocacy organization, formed a brother-sister relationship by aligning under one board of directors to ensure that both housing and ending homelessness in Virginia remained a priority.
History and Background of VHC, VHCIS, and VCEH
About VHC: The Virginia Housing Coalition was founded in 1981 specifically to support organizations and individuals working to provide 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 VHCIS: The Virginia Housing Coalition Information Services, Inc. was organized in 2005 to encourage efforts to improve housing for low and moderate income Virginia residents who lack safe, decent, and affordable shelter, provide educational resources that promote the development of housing and community development professionals, encourage relationship building between established professionals and young professionals within the industry, and education organizations within the industry about succession planning to ensure a smooth transition of leadership in future years. VHCIS offered training opportunities as well as the Annual Housing Credit Conference.
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 VCEH and VHCIS merge? Why did VHC agree to partner with the merged VHA?
- Similarities in our work and goals: VCEH, VHC, and VHCIS 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. The organizations share the common mission of increasing the supply of permanent, affordable housing for low income Virginians. In addition to advocacy, they have similar goals of capacity building through education and training.
- Greater policy impact: By joining forces, VHCIS 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 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.