April 30, 2013

Quick Q&A with Nina Janopaul, President and CEO of Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing

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We asked Nina Janopaul, President and CEO of Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing, a few questions. If you'd like to ask Nina a question, please comment. We'll do our best to share a response.


1. What are the major challenges facing housing non-profits in a high cost area like Arlington?


Our biggest challenge in Arlington is finding land or buildings for sale. Arlington has become popular due to excellent schools, public transportation, strong employment opportunities and quality of life. Developers from all over the nation are competing to buy and renovate or tear down and redevelop existing apartment complexes. The number of market affordable apartments has been shrinking by 1000 units per year, forcing many low income families to leave this convenient, supportive community. A secondary challenge is the high cost of development, as we face extensive site plan conditions, tight construction sites and high expectations from neighbors.

2.  How important do you consider Resident Services Programs to a successful affordable housing program?


Resident Services are a key component of our operations. Many APAH residents live one crisis away from homelessness. Some are so busy working multiple jobs, they can’t help their children in the evenings with schoolwork. APAH promotes opportunity and wellness for our residents through public and private partnerships, including parenting training, afterschool enrichment, community building, workplace skills (computers, English as a second language), food supplements and one-on-one intervention with families in crisis.

A growing number of our units provide permanent supportive housing (PSH) to some of the lowest income households in the County, many with disabilities. Our partners provide wrap-around supportive services and rental subsidy to these residents. Partners include Doorways for Women and Families, Community Residences, Arlington Street Peoples Assistance Network and Arlington County.

We consider both our general resident services programs and our PSH programs, as essential parts of our mission to develop, preserve, own and advocate for quality affordable housing in Arlington, and to promote opportunity for our residents through partnerships and programs.

3.  How has VHDA been an integral part of your organization’s efforts to provide affordable housing opportunities in Arlington?


VHDA has been a key partner in APAH’s success. The Low Income Housing Tax Credits are essential to funding any major acquisition, new development or renovation. VHDA has a fair and transparent process for allocating this scarce resource. In addition, APAH has frequently used VHDA as our financing partner. We find the loan terms, especially combined with SPARC and REACH, to be competitive and easy to execute. We have appreciated VHDA’s flexibility for special situations, such as when we used charitable contributions to lower the rent targeting on some of our PSH units. We are fortunate to work in Virginia with an effective and efficient, visionary and compassionate state housing finance partner.

For more information, please visit APAH online.
Questions submitted by Brian Matt, PR Manager for VHDA.

© 2013 VHDA, All Rights Reserved. Please Review the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

April 24, 2013

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Beyond Bricks & Sticks. A weekly digest of current trends in housing and community development. The discussion examines topics from infrastructure to community fabric.

Housing with Services

Crowdsourcing = data = better places

(RECAP: A new crowdsourcing tool has been born. The collaborative Google map, called Aging in Connected Places, intends to track especially great places to age, in both old and new walkable urbanism.)
http://bettercities.net/news-opinion/blogs/hazel-borys/19926/crowdsourcing-data-better-places

Strengthening Capacity

What is Capacity Building & Why is it Needed?

(RECAP: Learn more about what capacity building can accomplish and find additional resources and specific tools that can be used for capacity building in your non-profit.)
http://www.councilofnonprofits.org/capacity-building/what-capacity-building

Neighborhood Transformation

Mixing It Up: Anchor Hotels Draw Group Business to Mixed-Use Developments

(RECAP: Hotels smack dab in the middle of a mixed-use development renaissance are finding themselves in a right-place-right-time scenario.)
http://hospitality.cvent.com/blog/julie-catalano/mixing-it-up-anchor-hotels-draw-group-business-to-mixed-use-developments

Community Investment

Community Development Strategies: Yes, It Can Fit in Your Budget

(RECAP: People think community development is an expensive process, but it doesn’t have to be. You can get started with a simple community development process, one that encourages buy-in from the larger community.)
http://www.cfra.org/renewrural/rcthrive

April 18, 2013

Virginia Housing Directory - What is it? Where do I find it?

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Since 1992, VHDA has produced the Virginia Housing Directory as a resource to find organizations engaged in housing activities (i.e. non-profit organizations, federal and state agencies, and county and city resources).  This directory is a cooperative effort of VHDA and the agencies and organizations listed therein. The information captured provides the description, address, phone number, email address and area of services provided. The information is provided by each individual organization, which is solely responsible for their content.

If your organization is already listed, does it need updating? Would you like to be listed? If you answered yes to either of these questions, then please contact us at housingdirectory@vhda.com.

We hope you will use this valuable tool and join us in our goal to help Virginians obtain safe, decent and affordable housing that would otherwise be unaffordable for them.


© 2013 VHDA, All Rights Reserved. Please Review the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

April 17, 2013

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Beyond Bricks & Sticks. A weekly digest of current trends in housing and community development. The discussion examines topics from infrastructure to community fabric.

Community Investment

Bipartisan Bill Aims to Boost Brownfield Redevelopment

(RECAP: This week, a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators introduced the Brownfields Utilization, Investment and Local Development Act of 2013 (BUILD Act), a bill aimed at assisting local communities in remediating and redeveloping contaminated sites.)
http://www.planetizen.com/node/61117

Neighborhood Transformation

Mastering the Metro: How Metro Regions Can Win Friends and Influence Economies

(RECAP: If networks are the new, fast and partly-out-of-your-control vehicles for individual career building, could they also be the vehicles for building stronger economies and more livable communities in metropolitan areas?)
http://nextcity.org/forefront/view/mastering-the-metro

Patient urbanism: Build neighborhoods without high debt

(RECAP: Building neighborhoods patiently requires far less debt for infrastructure and results in places that are more interesting than those that are built all at once. This was once the way we built everywhere, but it is now illegal all over. Why?)
http://bettercities.net/news-opinion/blogs/steve-mouzon/19825/patient-urbanism-build-neighborhoods-without-high-debt

April 16, 2013

Neighborhood Revitalization: Determining the Level of Intervention

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In working with local governments and redevelopment and housing authorities over the years to help to address neighborhood revitalization opportunities, I realized the need to develop a quick guide sheet to visually depict the level of intervention necessary to address deteriorated and blighted housing. The attached document, “Neighborhood Revitalization: Levels of Intervention – Conceptualized,” provides a convenient way to view a neighborhood block (consisting of 20 lots measuring 25 x 100 feet) experiencing deterioration. While the configuration of blocks and lots in your older urban communities may differ somewhat from the diagrams, the overall intervention model still applies.

You’ll notice the model outlines three levels of intervention – minimal, revitalization and redevelopment.  In many cases, blocks involving one or two deteriorated housing units will require minimal intervention that may be addressed either by the market through investor purchase or by voluntary community action. Such community action might be facilitated through faith-based groups, the Rebuilding Together initiative or Habitat’s “Brush with Kindness” program.


April 10, 2013

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Beyond Bricks & Sticks. A weekly digest of current trends in housing and community development. The discussion examines topics from infrastructure to community fabric.


Strengthening Capacity

NeighborWorks America Hosts Upcoming Symposium on Social Technology

This week is your last chance to register online for NeighborWorks' symposium "Engaging Customers and Community through Social Technology" co-sponsored by NTEN: The Nonprofit Technology Network. Register before April 15.
www.bit.ly/SocialTechNTI


Community Investment

Virginia Housing Trust Fund Offers Workshops

(RECAP: Learn how to apply for funding from the Competitive Loan Pool and the Homeless Reduction Grant Program. Applications are due May 15.)
http://www.dhcd.virginia.gov/index.php/dhcd-resources/trainings-and-workshops.html


Housing with Services

Green House Building New Senior Living Model

(RECAP: In the related worlds of senior housing and health care, it turns out that a very small-scale solution can deliver a terrific quality of life for seniors that is not beyond their financial reach.)
http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/the-best-life/2013/04/04/green-house-building-new-senior-living-model


Fighting Domestic Violence With Architecture and Design

(RECAP: A new website, Building Dignity, gives domestic violence agencies resources and models to fundamentally change the way shelters are structured so they can provide women with empowerment and autonomy.)
http://www.theatlanticcities.com/housing/2013/03/fighting-domestic-violence-architecture-and-design/5076/


Neighborhood Transformation

An Easier Way To Fight Sprawl

(RECAP: As housing markets return, let’s ignore sprawl policies for a while and focus on infill policy instead. And let’s address infill in a completely new way.)
http://www.planetizen.com/node/61654


Announcing the best Complete Streets policies of 2012

Communities across the country are making roads safer and more accessible for everyone who uses them, and more communities are using these strategies now than ever before. The Best Complete Streets Policies of 2012 examines all the policies passed in the last year and highlights some of the best.
http://www.smartgrowthamerica.org/2013/04/08/announcing-the-best-complete-streets-policies-of-2012/

April 9, 2013

Coffee with KC McGurren, Executive Director of EarthCraft Virginia (Part 2)

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In continuing my conversation with Katherine Carroll “KC” McGurren, Executive Director of EarthCraft™ Virginia, KC discussed current and future advancements in sustainable energy efficient construction.

1. Give us an example of a multifamily development that went beyond the expectations of EarthCraft.
Several project teams have successfully gone above and beyond their expectations, but one outstanding example is the Better Housing Coalition’s Lincoln Mews. Prior to its redevelopment in 2008, approximately 65% of the development’s 245 affordable housing units were vacant and in disrepair. With the help of VHDA and architectural guidance from Community Design Studio, the project was able to begin a rigorous renovation. After the improvements were made, the project achieved an overall energy-efficiency improvement of 60%. As a result, the tenant’s utility bill was reduced from an average of $150 to only $45 a month! The property features Energy Star windows, high efficiency on demand water heaters, high efficiency HVAC equipment and quality insulation, all of which greatly reduced the utility bills of the tenants. They also thoroughly sealed the building’s envelope and ducts to prevent air infiltration and leakage.
Lincoln Mews is a renovated apartment building equipped
with energy-efficient appliances and technology.


In a side conversation, Bob Newman, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Better Housing Coalition, reflected, “The technical assistance provided by EarthCraft during both the design and construction phases was invaluable in ensuring the planned performance outcomes were actually achieved in practice.”

April 4, 2013

Coffee with KC McGurren, Executive Director of EarthCraft Virginia (Part 1)

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Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with Katherine Carroll “KC” McGurren, Executive Director of EarthCraft™ Virginia, to learn first-hand about green building practices and EarthCraft certification standards. Join our conversation below! If you have any additional questions for KC, feel free to post them in the comment section.

For a little background information, EarthCraft Virginia is a 501(c) 3 non-profit dedicated to the advancement of sustainable, affordable, resource and energy efficient construction through education and technical support. By working with builders to meet energy-efficiency and green building standards, the organization has successfully certified over 1,850 homes and over 9,000 multifamily dwelling units. EarthCraft Virginia closely partners with VHDA, Southface Energy Institute, the Home Builders Association of Virginia and Habitat for Humanity of Virginia.

KC McGurren is the Executive Director of EarthCraft Virginia.
1.     For our readers, could you tell us about yourself?

With a background in policy and planning from Virginia Tech, I worked to obtain hands-on experience in green building. I began my career as a Fellow at Southface Energy Institute in Atlanta, Georgia. During that time, I completed field visits to perform energy-efficiency assessments and worked as a home energy rater with the EarthCraft House program. After completing my fellowship, I joined EarthCraft Virginia as its first employee, eventually assuming my current role as Executive Director.

April 3, 2013

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Beyond Bricks & Sticks. A weekly digest of current trends in housing and community development. The discussion examines topics from infrastructure to community fabric.


Strengthening Capacity

How Nonprofits Can Use Twitter Vine (Without Wasting Time)

(RECAP: With the launch of Vine, Twitter has stormed onto the video scene. This creates huge opportunities for nonprofits who use Twitter to network with their donors.)
http://lorirtaylor.com/how-nonprofits-can-use-twitter-vine/

Neighborhood Transformation

New online game allows kids to design their own energy-efficient city

(RECAP: The Plan It Green game aims to help young people better understand the energy systems available to us and what it takes to build a successful and sustainable community.)
http://www.treehugger.com/gadgets/new-online-game-allows-kids-create-own-energy-efficient-city.html

Housing with Services 

5 Ways Robots Will Change Senior Housing

(RECAP: Considering the expected future capabilities of robots and the trajectory of their acceptance, here are a few key—and interrelated—areas robots will profoundly impact the senior housing industry.)
http://seniorhousingnews.com/2013/03/20/5-ways-robots-will-change-senior-housing/

Community Investment 

Virginia Housing Trust Fund Now Accepting Applications For Two Programs

The Virginia Housing Trust Fund is opening competitive applications for two pools of funding: the Competitive Loan Pool and the Homeless Reduction Grant Program.
http://www.dhcd.virginia.gov/index.php/dhcd-resources/dhcd-annoucements.html

April 2, 2013

Q & A : MUMI Financing Details

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Recently, we received some questions from one of our sister state housing finance agencies about our Mixed-use/Mixed-income (MUMI) financing. It is always nice to respond to something like this, because we are very proud of the impact of the MUMI program. I believe the questions raised and our responses are worth repeating to a larger audience, so I am paraphrasing our exchange below.

What led to the creation of the Mixed-use/Mixed-income (MUMI) program?  

The MUMI program resulted from concerns expressed by VHDA stakeholders and partners about challenges many of our communities face, such as deteriorated urban communities, the lack of affordable housing options near places of employment, increased income segregation in residential areas, traffic congestion, and seniors and persons with disabilities being increasingly disconnected when they are unable to drive. The goal was to address these challenges through people living closer to the goods and services they need on a day to day basis, more efficient use of land and public infrastructure, pedestrian friendly neighborhoods, and encouraging reinvestment and revitalization in existing corridors.

VHDA determined that there was a need for a financing product for projects involving rental housing units and other uses important to the community (such as retail and cultural venues). Such projects typically supported local revitalization efforts, yet there are very few lenders in the marketplace interested in considering such properties as a single project (particularly the smaller projects) to provide long-term fixed-rate mortgage financing.