November 26, 2018

Coming Soon to a Homesite Near You

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They’re built in a controlled environment that promotes a high-quality finished product. Compared to their competition, they take a fraction of the time to complete. They’re designed to be safe and sturdy. But perhaps best of all, they’re highly affordable – usually much less expensive than their more traditional counterparts. 


They’re factory-manufactured homes – structures built in one location, then trucked to a homesite. And nationwide, countless families live in them comfortably and happily.

Fleetwood Homes is one of many companies in this line of business. In September, two dozen representatives from VHDA, the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Rural Development visited Fleetwood’s manufacturing facility in Rocky Mount, Virginia, to learn more about how such homes are produced, and what they have to offer.

“One of our roles at VHDA is to create public awareness about matters related to affordable housing,” said Chris Thompson, VHDA’s Director of Strategic Housing in the Community Outreach Division. “We wanted to see for ourselves what goes into making a factory-built home.”

What the group saw on their tour impressed them. “In terms of their durability, workmanship, energy efficiency and aesthetics, these homes were eye-opening,” said Thompson. “In almost every way, they seem to be upgraded from what they may have been in the past.”

At Fleetwood, craftsmen complete every phase of a home’s construction, including plumbing and electrical, within the confines of the factory, thus avoiding weather delays that often plague site-built homes. The company uses “green” building methods and energy-efficient materials to save their customers money and to protect the environment.

The public’s perception of factory-manufactured homes may not always reflect their reality. While they aren’t necessarily the best choice for everyone, some buyers find that their price, quality and convenience intersect at exactly the right place.

“Our tour reinforced what we already thought to be true – that factory-manufactured homes are a comfortable, affordable and viable option for some families, whether they’re renting or owning,” said Thompson. “It was a great visit, and well worth our time.”

The Bloom and Carpenter’s Shelter Groundbreaking

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2-1-1 Takes on a New Meaning in Northern Virginia



Two operations, one building and one mission: helping the less-affluent with their housing challenges.

That’s the case in Alexandria, where officials have broken ground for The Bloom, an apartment complex for low-income households, and for a replacement structure for Carpenter’s Shelter, now serving the homeless from a retrofitted DMV office. The two operations will share a single building. The Bloom’s 97 rental units – reserved for tenants who make less than 60 percent of the area’s median income – will sit atop the shelter. The energy-efficient building will have an underground parking garage, a 1,600-square-foot garden, a playground, a community room and outdoor terraces. Its proximity to schools, shopping and public transportation exemplifies “smart growth” development. Under this planning approach, urban growth is confined within compact areas to reduce sprawl and foster safe, walkable and sustainable neighborhoods.

VHDA and Alexandria Housing Development Corporation worked hand-in-hand to make this venture a reality. VHDA has committed $10.3 million to fund it, including $5 million from REACH Virginia. VHDA contributes a substantial portion of our net revenues to fund this program, which addresses housing needs throughout the Commonwealth.

VHDA’s financing or Housing Credits have helped launch other affordable rental properties in Alexandria in the past. Examples include Lacy Court Apartments, Arbelo Apartments, Longview Terrace Apartments and The Station at Potomac Yard, which total 183 units. A future endeavor, The Gateway, will have 74 units, a grocery store and office space, and it will also house a new bus rapid transit station.

Attending the groundbreaking of The Bloom and Carpenter’s Shelter were numerous state and local elected officials and other guests. Speakers included Governor Ralph Northam, Congressman Don Beyer, Alexandria Mayor Allison Silberberg, AHDC President Daniel Abramson, Shannon Steele from Carpenter’s Center, and VHDA’s Director of Rental Housing Dale Wittie.

November 21, 2018

Helping First-time Buyers Make More Competitive Offers

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After scrimping and saving for years, a young couple is finally ready to purchase their first home. Like many first-time buyers, they’re far from wealthy but their credit is good and they’ve been pre-qualified for a mortgage. Their excitement is contagious, and their Realtor is again reminded of why she chose to make this work her career. Together they look at several properties, and then they find it: the perfect first home. Small, but in a favorable location, with good curb appeal and an attractive floor plan.

There’s just one problem.

When they crunch the numbers, there’s not enough for a down payment, or the monthly payment falls just beyond reach. The couple eventually finds a less expensive house, but it doesn’t quite measure up to the one they really wanted.

Situations such as this were the basis for creation of the VHDA Plus Second Mortgage. It’s a new product designed to make homebuying more affordable for first-time buyers.

It’s a 30-year fixed-rate loan that covers the entire down payment, when coupled with a VHDA first mortgage. There’s no prepayment penalty, and the second mortgage has the same interest rate as the first mortgage. This is a distinct advantage over other second mortgage products, which often carry interest rates three or more percentage points higher than a first mortgage. Other products may also have shorter terms (15 or 20 years instead of 30), balloon payments, or both.

Borrowers with a credit score of 680 or higher can fold part of their closing costs into a VHDA Plus Second Mortgage, and every borrower receiving this loan qualifies for a VHDA Mortgage Credit Certificate. An MCC allows borrowers to deduct 20 percent of their annual mortgage interest as a dollar-for-dollar credit against their federal income tax liability. The remaining 80 percent can be taken as a traditional tax deduction. Even with the tax law changes taking effect in 2018, first-time buyers with an MCC can still benefit, whether they itemize or take the standard deduction.

The VHDA Plus Second Mortgage must be paired with one of three VHDA first mortgages: an FHA loan or one of two Fannie Mae conventional loans.

The big picture is clear. The VHDA Plus Second Mortgage can make homebuying more affordable for first-time buyers. With less cash needed up front, it frees up money they may need later for furniture, improvements and more. It lets them make more competitive offers, especially when they’re competing against buyers who can make a five percent down payment, and it may enable them to finance their closing costs instead of asking for assistance from the seller.

First-time homebuyers and real estate agents may contact any VHDA-approved lender for information about this or other VHDA products, such as down payment grants and free homebuyer education. VHDA maintains a database of approved lenders at vhda.com/FindALender.

Twenty-five Years and Going Strong

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Helping to Make Housing Affordable in Southwest Virginia


One stick is easily broken. Many sticks bundled together are not. So goes an old saying that describes why 10 separate housing authorities in Southwest Virginia banded together 25 years ago. All of them shared the same mission and vision, and they understood that working together could help them operate more effectively on both a local and a regional level. The organization they formed was called the Little Ten.

Then as now, the Little Ten’s goal is to provide opportunities for Southwest Virginians to find safe, affordable housing and to help develop, preserve and revitalize local neighborhoods.

VHDA representatives recently attended the Little Ten’s silver anniversary celebration as a sponsor, supporter and partner. Charlie McConnel, vice chair of VHDA’s board and a founding member of the Little Ten, spoke at the event and offered a resolution from VHDA’s Board of Commissioners commending the group’s accomplishments. Here are some highlights:

  • The Little Ten partnered with VHDA in the Sponsoring Partnerships and Revitalizing Communities Homeownership Program, receiving $37.9 million to annually provide homeownership opportunities to low- and moderate-income citizens.

  • It has provided down payment and closing-cost assistance to homeowners through the federal HOME program by partnering with VHDA’s Southwest Office in Wytheville and the VHDA Mobile Mortgage Office.

  • It worked closely with VHDA to transfer the administration of the Section 8 Voucher Program to its 10 members, thereby allowing housing decisions to be made locally.

  • It has worked closely with VHDA and other organizations to revitalize neighborhoods into mixed-use and mixed-income communities for low- to moderate-income families, the elderly, and the disabled.

  • It was selected by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to participate in the Affordable Housing Utility Benchmarking Fellowship program. This allowed a fellowship student from Climate Corps, which engages organizations in climate protection measures, to create a benchmarking plan to help lower energy bills and provide more accurate utility allowances.

The Little Ten is comprised of the redevelopment and housing authorities for the cities of Bristol and Norton; the counties of Lee, Scott, and Wise; the towns of Abingdon, Big Stone Gap, Marion, and Wytheville; and the Cumberland Plateau Regional Housing Authority.

VHDA continues to support and work collaboratively with the Little Ten, and we are currently exploring opportunities in relation to two of our grant programs. Community Impact Grants provide local governments with resources to assist with revitalization efforts, especially those involving mixed-use/mixed-income properties. Capacity Building Grants help nonprofits and local governments address the housing needs of low- and moderate-income individuals and families. You can learn more about these programs on our website, or email vhdagrants@vhda.com.   

Recognizing a Deserving Realtor

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Photo courtesy of Keith Davis, Nest Realty Principal Broker

They’re the lifeblood of homeownership. The glue that binds buyers to sellers, families to dwelling places. They’re Realtors, and they represent one of VHDA’s most important stakeholder groups. That’s why VHDA presents its Service to Virginia Award annually to the Virginia Realtor who has significantly promoted affordable homeownership to first-time buyers in the past year, or whose life’s work speaks to this issue.

The 2018 award winner – selected by his peers from among 34,000 members statewide – is Greg Slater of the Charlottesville Area Association of Realtors. He was one of the first agents in Virginia to champion solar panels as a means of reducing a home’s carbon footprint and lowering homeownership costs. In the past, he has worked with local and national builders to run pilot programs to demonstrate the ready availability of funding sources for solar power, as well as its efficacy.

A Realtor since 1996, Slater is a member of Nest Realty group and a representative for Bramante Homes, Inc. He received his award at the Virginia Realtors annual awards and installation banquet in September. Awards were also given to agents for excellence in property management, brokerage, education and other business achievements. For details, visit VirginiaRealtors.org.

VHDA congratulates Greg Slater for receiving its 2018 Service to Virginia award and salutes all the Realtors in the Commonwealth for their indispensable role in the homeownership process. 

November 6, 2018

Breaking Ground in Jackson Ward!

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New construction is in progress to bring affordable housing to Richmond’s Jackson Ward community. The Jackson Ward development is the second of three phases to be developed by the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority and CPDC. It will to contribute to the mayor’s goal of creating 1,500 new affordable units in Richmond in the next five years.

The development will feature units for low-income seniors that are fully accessible by Universal Design requirements and built to the highest level of EarthCraft certification, reducing utility costs and providing healthy indoor air. It will also include 82 apartments for individuals with a mix of incomes as well as 6,000 square feet of retail space.

VHDA provided funding through $16 million in combined tax exempt and taxable bond proceeds as well as federal Housing Credits for a total of $26 million in capital to fund the project. VHDA remains focused on working with our partners to increase the amount of affordable housing in Richmond, and we are proud to be a partner in celebrating and preserving the African-American history of the Jackson Ward Historic District.

August 20, 2018

VHDA Teams Up with Five Lynchburg Organizations

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Tackling complex problems is a tough task for a city under the best of circumstances. But without having evidence-based data to help set priorities and develop strategies, it becomes nearly impossible.

That’s why VHDA is teaming up with five partner organizations in Lynchburg to conduct a study of the city’s interrelated problems of poverty, homelessness and housing. The five organizations – Lynchburg Redevelopment and Housing Authority, Rush Lifetime Homes, Miriam's House, Greater Lynchburg Habitat for Humanity, and Lynchburg Community Action Group – are known collectively as the Lynchburg Regional Housing Coalition. Its study is being funded by a one of VHDA’s Community Impact Grants.

Community Impact Grants are funded through VHDA’s Reach Virginia program. Each year, VHDA contributes a substantial portion of our net revenues to this program, which helps support our partners and nonprofits as they work to meet local housing needs.

The Lynchburg study will incorporate a new data platform that’s designed to aggregate and analyze data more effectively. Among other topics, it will look at the Housing Choice Voucher program, which helps low-income households with rent payments; the quality and distribution of rental units and single-family structures; the occupancy rates of rental units; and the circumstances of rent-burdened populations, including veterans, the homeless and people with disabilities.

“Strong housing networks provide cities with a host of social and economic benefits,” said Chris Thompson, director of strategic housing for VHDA’s Community Outreach division. “Our Community Impact Grant is designed to give Lynchburg the qualitative and quantitative data it needs to make informed decisions about how to strengthen its network.”
The study is expected to be complete next year. Its ultimate objective is to inform local leaders and make a compelling case for including affordable housing as part of the regional planning process.

Learn more about VHDA grant programs.