March 25, 2014

How Low-income Housing Tax Credits Work

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This article, written by Ann Brown, originally appeared in Virginia Town and City – The magazine of the Virginia Municipal League, November 2013 edition.

There are 907 actively leasing properties (84,921 apartments) in Virginia that were funded by the federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program. The credits are allocated by VHDA. The apartments serve low-income families, people with disabilities, the elderly and the homeless in urban and rural Virginia. These credits are often the foundation for revitalizing neglected neighborhoods and catalysts for stimulating local economies. Here’s how the program works.

March 20, 2014

Around the Block with VHDA’s new REACH Virginia Director

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VHDA’s new Director of REACH Virginia is Elizabeth Seward, LEED AP. Before joining VHDA in 2013, Beth worked in New York City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development and built experience in neighborhood revitalization and mixed-use development. She holds a Masters in urban and regional policy.

What drew you to the housing industry, and what led you to VHDA?

Like many people in the housing industry, my career and path to VHDA was not linear and evolved over time. I first developed an interest in neighborhoods from visiting Richmond’s historic neighborhoods: Jackson Ward, Church Hill and Oregon Hill. I grew up in Richmond and saw how the neighborhoods had declined and was fascinated how some blocks appeared vibrant while others had vacant, boarded-up homes.

March 19, 2014

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.

The Amazing Things You Can Learn From a Virtual City

(RECAP: The Research Laboratory for Immersive Virtual Environments is a potentially fantastic toolkit for asking questions about what does or doesn't work in urban planning before it happens, rather than after.)

Gentrification's Not So Black and White After All

(RECAP: Despite complaints about well-educated white people buying up houses in low-income minority neighborhoods, recent studies show that gentrification often helps the original residents.)

Urban Planning 101

(RECAP: Increasing mobility and affordability are the two main objectives of urban planning. These two objectives are directly related to the overall goal of maximizing the size of a city’s labor market, and therefore, its economic prosperity.)

New ‘Handicapped’ Symbol Featured At Museum Of Modern Art

(RECAP: An updated version of the familiar blue and white icon that’s long symbolized accessibility is now taking its place in the art world. The revamped design, known as the Accessible Icon, represents a “ground up” effort to use a visual work to spark discussion about what disability means in society.)

Hold Harmless Rules Are Not So Harmless

(RECAP: The IRS hold harmless policy has prevented rent and income limits from declining and thus protected LIHTC properties’ ability to operate. But as properties age and operating costs climb, flat rents can cause serious financial strain to LIHTC properties by limiting the pool of potential residents a property can serve and the revenue it can collect.)

6 Stunning Open Source House Designs from Paperhouses

(RECAP: An open source platform that offers free downloadable blueprints, Paperhouses brings together a collective of top-tier architects from around the world who are giving away the designs to some of their most stunning projects.)

March 14, 2014

Disabled and looking for an affordable and accessible apartment?

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Help is just a click away at if you're disabled and looking for an affordable and accessible apartment.

Created by VHDA through grant support from the Virginia Board for People with Disabilities, people with disabilities are encouraged to use this site to find an affordable, accessible place to live. This site provides accessible housing resources and an interactive map of Virginia Centers for Independent Living that provides services and advocacy to promote the independence and productivity of people with disabilities. Virginia Centers for Independent Living also works with individuals, as well as local communities, to remove barriers to independence and ensure equality for people with disabilities.

Please share your free resources to finding and supporting accessibility for people with disabilities.

© 2013 VHDA, All Rights Reserved. Please Review the Privacy Policy.

March 12, 2014

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.

A Boost to Vouchers Would Be a Boost for Kids

(RECAP: The Housing Choice Voucher program falls short in two important ways. In congressional testimony last month, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities President Robert Greenstein recommended ways to increase the voucher program’s effectiveness and efficiency to boost poor children’s prospects.)

The Impossible Takes a Little Longer

(RECAP: Housing development is a risky business, even without having to cope with the demands and challenges that are a nonprofit houser’s daily fare. We shouldn’t be impatient waiting for them to add all the bells and whistles to underfunded projects their backers, critics and colleagues demand. After all, the impossible takes a little longer.)

Should Home Builders Pay the Energy Bills?

(RECAP: Strict energy standards in effect since 1978 haven’t corrected California’s HVAC industry. Rick Chitwood proposes seven transformative measures, including a requirement that new home builders pay the energy bills for the first three years. Could this work in other states?)

Four College Campuses That Can Teach Cities How To Do Transit Better

(RECAP: Where city initiatives might get mired in local politics and die slow deaths, many campuses have been forced to innovate rapidly to accommodate growing student populations. Often that means they're putting progressive transportation systems in place long before cities get around to doing the same.)

The Future of Universal Design

(RECAP: Increased adoption of universal design can be achieved by expanding the emphasis on social participation, incorporating a health and wellness focus, recognizing the role of context, and conceptualizing universal design as a process rather than a set of rules.)

March 5, 2014

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 Reducing Regulations Yield Expanded Housing Options?

(RECAP: What do granny flats, ADU's and micro-apartments have in common? In many places across America, they’re prohibited. Outdated and onerous regulations — particularly those in zoning ordinances — are affecting the availability of housing choice. What can communities do to expand their housing stock?)

Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

(RECAP: Revitalization in impoverished neighborhoods can be very difficult because different "stakeholders" have different understandings of what's at stake.)

Housing Policies in America: What’s Helping, What’s Hurting

(RECAP: The 2014 Assets & Opportunities Score reports on 133 policy and outcome measures that tell the story of Americans’ financial security today and their opportunities to create a more prosperous and secure tomorrow.)

ULI Survey: Mixed-Use Communities a Growing Preference

(RECAP: The needs and wants of renters and homeowners aren’t so very different, as evidenced by the Urban Land Institute’s America in 2013 housing survey: both demographics are big fans of mixed-use communities.)

How Cold Does It Have to Be Before Cities Are Required to Shelter the Homeless? Depends on Where You Are

(RECAP: The National Coalition for the Homeless released this fascinating map illustrating the wide variation in policies across the country that mandate exactly how cold it has to be before cities are required to provide overnight shelter for every single homeless person—although plenty of cities have no such requirement.)

Four of the Best Apps for People with Disabilities

(RECAP: These mobile apps — including one that uses sophisticated text-to-speech technology — have been tailor-made for specific impairments and can be downloaded on typical smartphones and tablets.)