VHA’s 2022 legislative agenda prioritizes strategic investments to address both the supply and demand side of the affordable housing and supportive services needs of Virginia’s lowest income households.
The recently released Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) report “Affordable Housing in Virginia 2021” found:
Established in 2013 and supported by every administration, the Virginia Housing Trust Fund (HTF) is administered by the Department of Housing and Community Development(DHCD) in partnership with Virginia Housing (VH). The HTF uses public dollars to leverage private investment in housing for people with extremely low incomes. Since 2014, the General Assembly has appropriated $145.2 million to the HTF resulting in the creation or preservation of 6,856 affordable units.
The HTF is coordinated and targeted to our lowest income residents. Since 2014, DHCD has collaborated with Virginia Housing and the Department of Behavioral Health and Disability Services (DBHDS) to coordinate and implement strategies to address the housing needs of vulnerable populations including people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, serious mental illness and those who are chronically homeless through the creation of additional permanent supportive housing (PSH) units.
Safe, decent, affordable housing is essential for individual and family stability, yet the Commonwealth has a shortage of at least 200,000 affordable homes. Continued and increased funding is needed to make strides to meeting the housing needs of all of our neighbors, including our seniors and people with disabilities, members of our workforce, young families, and new graduates.
VHA supports an investment in the HTF which will bring the total amount of funding to $300M over the biennium – $125M for FY23 and $175M for FY24. Based on historic outcomes, this would lead to approximately 20,000 affordable homes helping to more rapidly address Virginia’s critical shortage of nearly 200,000 affordable homes.
Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) is an evidence-based practice that combines affordable rental housing with community-based services to address the treatment, rehabilitative, and recovery support needs of participants. Funding for PSH goes toward non time-limited (permanent) rental subsidies and services for participants.
The lack of housing options is the most common barrier to state hospital discharge. An estimated 5,000 units are needed to meet the housing and support services needs of homeless and discharge-ready hospitalized individuals with serious mental illness. Our discharge-ready neighbors are not able to leave the state hospital unless they have a home to which they can discharge, resulting in them staying in the hospital longer than necessary, and taking up needed hospital beds. More resources are critical for creating more homes and support services to move our neighbors out of the hospital and into the community.
VHA supports an investment of $30.3M over the biennium to expand Permanent Supportive Housing to serve an additional 1,250 adults with serious mental illness (SMI) leaving state psychiatric hospitals or who are homeless and at risk of hospitalization; $3.9M over the biennium to provide PSH to an additional 150 adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities through the State Rental Assistance Program (SRAP); and $3.5M over the biennium to sustain the Pregnant and Parenting Women (PPW) program and expand PSH to an additional 75 households.
Across the Commonwealth, 71% of our 250,000 extremely low income neighbors are housing cost burdened, meaning that they are too frequently forced to choose between paying the rent, keeping the lights on, providing food for their family, and/or seeking medical care. To afford the average rent of $1,088 for a one-bedroom apartment in Virginia, a minimum wage household must work 88 hours per week.
VHA supports the establishment of the Virginia Housing Stability Fund. The Housing Stability Fund will provide rental subsidies to low-income Virginians. The proposed budget amendment of $73 million will task the Department of Housing and Community Development with convening a stakeholder group to provide guidance as to the program design and issue a report to the General Assembly by November 30, 2022. The $73M in the second year of the biennium will provide rental assistance for approximately 5,000 extremely low-income people.
Signed into law last year, the Virginia Housing Opportunity Tax Credit adds another vital tool to create additional, sustainable, and long-term affordable homes across Virginia. Currently, the amount of tax credits available for the creation of affordable homes is capped at $15 million per year.
VHA is advocating to grow the total amount of tax credits to a total of $150 million per year as well as to insert provisions, such as allowing Virginia to retain control of how the tax credits are awarded and allowing them to be certificated, to make the program as efficient and cost-effective as possible to meet the diverse housing needs of low income Virginians.
Get involved and be a voice for affordable housing policy in Virginia.