October 31, 2013

VHDA Wins Four National Housing Awards

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.

VHDA’s Partnership for Habitat Housing successfully tackles the challenge of helping a non-profit housing agency maximize affordable opportunities for first-time homebuyers. The partnership includes:
  • Reduced interest rates for first-time buyers to buy previously foreclosed homes,
  • Lines of credit providing Habitat affiliates with capital for their lending programs,
  • Pro bono Habitat home loan servicing,
  • Financial support to increase Habitat’s capacity,
  • Volunteer support of annual Habitat builds by VHDA associates,
  • Free office space for Habitat at VHDA, and
  • “Train the Trainer” Homeownership Education classes designed specifically for those teaching Habitat homebuyers.

VHDA’s Maximizing Rural Housing Resources in Virginia program focuses on preserving affordable housing for vulnerable rural families by partnering with the United States Department of Agriculture’s Office of Rural Development, which runs loan and grant programs intended to improve the economy and quality of life in rural America. Working together, VHDA and Rural Development created a shared vision of a single transaction made up of several multifamily properties that had each been allocated an award of low income housing tax credits. Bundling these smaller developments together required considerable coordination between Rural Development and VHDA, but in the end created a single transaction that garnered greater interest from equity investors whose funding is critical to preserving affordable housing. As a result of this program, a total of 425 units of affordable rural rental housing have been preserved for a minimum of 15 years. 

VHDA’s South Hampton Roads Regional Supportive Studio Apartment Partnership began when four cities in South Hampton Roads came together to address the issue of chronic homelessness in their region. VHDA facilitated the means to obtain the resources necessary to build these projects, and Virginia Supportive Housing, the state’s foremost developer of SSA projects, served as the developer of these unique supportive studio apartment (SSA) developments. Each of the four cities agreed to facilitate the construction of a 60-unit SSA development within their boundaries. Each jurisdiction also provided 15 project-based Housing Choice Vouchers to each of the developments. VHDA provided substantial financial resources to make these developments a reality. Of the total cost of these four projects, funding raised from VHDA-administered low-income housing tax credits and special VHDA-funded direct loans covered 59 percent of the total cost. 

Finally, VHDA’s Internal Communications Strategy streamlined internal communications by combining a new intranet application that provides real-time communications to employees, prompt e-mail notifications, and Quarterly Associates Meetings. By upgrading the intranet to real-time, employees don’t have to wait for the internal newsletter to come out – they have immediate access to information, and can respond in a timely manner. As a result of these simple changes, VHDA has achieved a more efficient and effective internal communications strategy that has resulted in the reduction of staff time. In fact, the news process that once took two associates 2-3 days to complete now takes one associate only 15 minutes. Moreover, this effort utilized technology that was already in place, required no additional funding, and was achieved in a four-month timeframe by VHDA’s IT department.
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