October 31, 2013

VHDA Wins Four National Housing Awards

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Authority Ranks #1 in Awards for Third Year in a Row 
 The National Council of State Housing Agencies (NCSHA) recently presented VHDA with four national awards recognizing outstanding achievement, the most received by any housing finance agency in the nation. This marks the third year in a row we have either won or tied for the top spot in the awards competition.

“While I am very pleased that we received four national awards this year, I am even more pleased that these programs are helping to provide affordable housing that supports strong, safe and sustainable neighborhoods across Virginia,” said VHDA Executive Director Susan Dewey.

Photo credit:Lonely Fox Photography
Top row, L. to R. – Art Bowen, Managing Director of Rental Housing; Dale Wittie, Director of Rental Housing;
Michele Watson, Director of Homeownership Programs; Mike Hawkins, Managing Director of Community Outreach;
Llew Anderson, Director of Executive Services; Brian Matt, Public Relations Manager.
Bottom row, L. to R. - Kit Hale, Chair of the VHDA Board of Commissioners; Margie Leon, VHDA Board Member;
Jackie Black, VHDA Board Member; and Susan Dewey, VHDA Executive Director.

VHDA’s Partnership for Habitat Housing won in the “Encouraging New Production” category, its Maximizing Rural Housing Resources in Virginia program won in the “Preservation and Rehabilitation” category, its South Hampton Roads Regional Supportive Studio Apartment Partnership won in the “Combating Homelessness” category, and its Internal Communications Strategy won in the “Operations” category.

October 30, 2013

Beyond Bricks and Sticks

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

Suburban transformation: The Fifth Wave

(RECAP: The U.S. will add a hundred million people in coming decades. As part of a new migration—The Fifth Wave—some will move to cities, but many or most will relocate in suburbs, transforming them and making them more urban.)

Why the “sit-able city” is the next big idea 

(RECAP: The sit-able realm is a place of human universals, broader than the walking that transports us there or passes through. And the sit-able is about far more than street furniture and sidewalk dining, pop-up urbanism and Parking Day.)

Community Development: Let Your Mission Do the Talking

(RECAP: The way “non-profit” deals usually operate, the financiers get the “profit,” the community gets the “non.” It would be much more accurate to describe the work of community developers as “mission-driven,” rather than “non-profit.”)

A Guide to Affordable Dental Care

(RECAP: A new Web site, Toothwisdom.org—and its state-by-state map—aims to make it easier for aging adults and their caregivers to find low-cost dental care nationwide by raising awareness of the patchwork quilt of available services.)

24-Hour Cities: Why Cities Need Nighttime Economies

(RECAP: Montgomery County, Md., is exploring ways to increase nighttime activities and create 24-hour communities with options that could include all-night schools, libraries, bookstores, movie theaters, playhouses and museums. Cities should pay attention.)

October 29, 2013

VHDA as a Public Housing Agency

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Today's blog post comes to us from VHDA's Diana Crosswhite, Policy Specialist for the Housing Choice Voucher Program department, explaining one of VHDA's secondary roles for the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Most people are familiar with VHDA as a lending agency that provides mortgage loans for single and multifamily dwellings. However, many may not realize that VHDA also administers a Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program, which also makes VHDA a public housing agency or PHA, among its many other roles.

Funding for the HCV Program comes directly from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and is intended to provide rental assistance to extremely-low and very-low income families. HUD defines an extremely-low income family as earning 30 percent of median family income for an area, and a very-low income family as earning 50 percent of median family income for an area. HUD publishes an updated listing of income limits every year.

In 1976, the Virginia General Assembly asked VHDA to apply for voucher funding on behalf of localities that were not eligible for the HUD program. VHDA contacted each county and city in Virginia to gauge their interest in the HCV Program. The first localities to indicate their interest included Campbell, Loudoun and Prince William counties and the cities of Lynchburg and Martinsville. The program grew to serve over 13,000 families by the year 2000. Today, VHDA has a voucher allocation of approximately 9,600 and partners with 32 agencies across Virginia to administer the voucher program.

VHDA is only one of 44 PHAs in Virginia reporting directly to HUD. Many people assume that VHDA has oversight of the other PHAs in Virginia. However, each PHA reports either to the HUD Richmond Field Office or the HUD District of Columbia Field Office. Any questions or concerns related to a particular PHA should be directed to the appropriate HUD field office.
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October 23, 2013

Beyond Bricks and Sticks

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

Recognizing Lively Urban Spaces as the Heart of Resilient Communities

(RECAP: Based on lessons from recent disasters in Chicago and New York, where lively urban spaces helped communities to survive and recover, Michael Kimmelman suggests that neighborhood libraries could be designed with such a purpose in mind.)

The Past, Present, and Future of Community Development

(RECAP: The field of community development has grown immeasurably since the dark days of top-down policies such as urban renewal. Today it stands on the threshold of new synergies, but it also faces challenges as never before.)

5 Questions for NeighborWorks' Eileen Fitzgerald

(RECAP: This housing and community development organization, which is celebrating its 35th anniversary, continues to be a leading trainer of affordable housing and community development professionals. CEO Eileen Fitzgerald talks about the housing market and issues to watch.)

Could Kit Homes Make a Comeback?

(RECAP: It's interesting to look at housing trends from the past for ideas on how to deal with the housing problems of the present. Very popular from around 1908 until World War II, "kit homes" saved many buyers some 30 percent of the cost of a conventional stick-built home.)

The Power of 10

(RECAP: At the core of the Power of 10 is the idea that any great place needs to offer at least 10 things to do or 10 reasons to be there. Ideally, some of these activities are unique to that particular spot and are interesting enough to keep people coming back.)

October 16, 2013

Beyond Bricks and Sticks

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

12 Policies to Boost Innovation, Resilience & Prosperity in Cities

(RECAP: When citizens and governments plan a city together, a more shareable city is possible. Increased innovation, resilience and prosperity can follow.)

Making Parking Earn its Keep

(RECAP: Valid concerns about congestion, overflow and the impact the increase in residential traffic brings have made downtown parking a hot topic--one that warrants a closer look into what’s happening in parking garages when no one’s around.)

Dialing-in your zoning to fit your community

(RECAP: Conventional zoning is very difficult to adjust to the realities of a community. In fact, it’s adjusted too often and in ways that don’t improve it. So why keep something that’s difficult to adjust when form-based codes (FBC) exist?)

Scrapped public transport bus converted into chic living space

(RECAP: With thousands of public transportation buses going out of circulation annually worldwide, this could be an efficient and stylish way to re-use them.)

Opinion: Why We Can’t Ignore College-Based Senior Cohousing

(RECAP: The connection between campus improvement and retirees may seem distant from one another, but in reality they have a lot in common.)

October 9, 2013

Beyond Bricks and Sticks

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

Innovative Solutions for Preserving Affordable Rental Housing

(RECAP: HUD looks at federal solutions (such as the Mark-to-Market program and the Rental Assistance Demonstration pilot program) and local solutions (in cities such as Denver, San Diego and New York) that have proven successful.)

Tactics for Short-Term Community Revitalization

(RECAP: While city leaders devise the solutions for urban revitalization, there’s no reason for residents to sit idly. Instead, residents can get hands-on through displays of “tactical urbanism”. )

Early Funding is Worth its Weight in Gold

(RECAP: Whether flexible funding helps hire a development manager, an architect or exists as an early investment that attracts larger supporters, organizations that are able to secure this kind of financing have the best chance of getting a new affordable rental project done or to sustain an existing one.)

3 Uses for Online Senior Housing Directories

(RECAP: While seniors and their adult children may use online directories at all stages of the search process, here are three phases in which online senior housing directories can be particularly helpful for decision-making.)

Center To Bridge Divide Between Disability Community, Police

(RECAP: Serving as a clearinghouse, this first-of-its-kind national center will offer a resource library, directories of attorneys, victim advocates and other experts, in addition to a database of relevant state laws.)

October 3, 2013

How to Start a Farmer’s Market

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REACH Virginia holds an annual workshop focusing on neighborhood revitalization through housing and economic development. Training emphasizes the importance of building neighborhoods, not just houses, and provides insight into the aspects of a community that planners may not be thinking of in the early stages of development. Existing and future retail is important to a thriving neighborhood and can include a farmer’s market. In this post, Mario Wells of VHDA shares tips to keep in mind if a farmer’s market is part of your neighborhood revitalization plan.

A recent trip to my local farmer’s market helped me re-live my childhood where I would go over to my neighbor’s yard to pick peaches from their tree. The delectable produce and interaction amongst other shoppers at the market made me ponder how this market in particular became successful. Planning a farmer’s market takes know-how, but this form of retail could be lucrative for more than just local farmers; it could also benefit the entire community.

Fresh fruit and vegetables at a farmer's market.

In recent decades, farmer’s markets have again assumed their historic role as important social and economic institutions in many of our communities. Food has been used as a common practice in most cultures to bring people together. In addition, these markets change the mindset of individuals by making shopping a pleasure rather than a chore. Finally, a farmer’s market is the focal point of a community where individuals can bring their friends and families and enjoy a small-town atmosphere.

Here are some steps to keep in mind when starting a farmer’s market:

October 2, 2013

Beyond Bricks and Sticks

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

Does real estate have room for crowdfunding?

(RECAP: An editorial in the Atlanta Business Chronicle raises an interesting question: does real estate have room for crowdfunding as a means to raise cash for projects? And if so, where should crowdfunded cash fit into the capital stack of a real estate deal?)

How parking requirements raise rents

(RECAP: Off-street parking requirements increase the per-unit cost for the developer by about 50 percent, raising required rents from about $800/month to $1,200/month. In addition to the elimination of affordable housing, parking requirements also have broad negative economic impacts and contribute to global warming.)

Four Ways Protected Bike Lanes Benefit Businesses

(RECAP: The question isn’t whether your city can afford high-quality bike infrastructure. It’s whether your city can afford not to.)

Designing a Place-Based Plan for Stabilization

(RECAP: Beginning at the citywide or regional level and then drilling down to an individual neighborhood, these eight steps can lead to a realistic plan for stabilizing a targeted neighborhood impacted by foreclosures.)

Is Community Development an Industry—or a Movement?

(RECAP: The challenge before us is not how to make community development more of an industry, but how to do so carefully and consciously without sacrificing what makes our organizations different than those of the “other guys” in government and business.)