The Cost of Doing Nothing

Safe, affordable housing is out of reach for many Virginians.

In Virginia, the number of cost-burdened renters (paying more than 30% of their income on housing) is on the rise. Rents across the state have been rising faster than incomes, making housing affordability an ever more pressing issue. In many areas of the state, it is getting harder for the workforce to find affordable housing in the communities where they work. As it stands, Virginia is the most expensive state for renters in the Southeast region.

While we have made strides in reducing homelessness in the state, it still remains a significant issue. Additional resources are needed to end homelessness in the coming years and the VHTF can be part of the solution.

Cause and Effect

During the 2016 General Assembly VHA members and housers across Virginia partnered to advocate for an increase to the VHTF. With much success the fund was increased by $5.5 million per year for the next two years, which is an increase of $1.5 million per year. None of this would have been possible without the combined efforts of phone calls, emails, and visits to legislators at Housing Day and through the last year!

The Facts 

In 2014, Over 7,600 Virginians were homeless.  More than 950 households with one or more children experienced homelessness. Furthermore, 13% of Virginia households are extremely cost burdened, meaning they pay more than 50% of household income on housing – putting many households one paycheck away from the risk of homelessness.

Read below for more information demonstrating the critical need for more housing options in the state.

Working at the minimum wage in Virginia, a family must have 3.1 wage earners working full-time, or one full-time earner working 116 hours per week to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment.

Renters in Virginia need to earn $21.10 per hour in order to afford a basic apartment. The typical renter in Virginia earns $16.55 per hour, which is $4.55 less than the hourly wage needed to afford a modest unit (Housing Wage).

  • The Housing Wage in Virginia is nearly two dollars more than the National Housing Wage of $19.35.
  • Virginia has the highest Housing Wage among all of the states in the Southeast (see image above) and is the 10th least affordable state in the nation.

Click here to view our full Out of Reach 2016 that includes maps showing how the housing wage, varies across the state, percent of renters that can afford a modest unit in different localities and the number of hours a worker would need to work at minimum wage to afford a modest unit among other affordability metrics.

The number of affordable and available homes for the lowest income residents in Virginia is on the decline. 

Below are some useful information about housing affordability in Virginia