May 28, 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 Mixed-income Neighborhood Makes Good 

(RECAP: As federal subsidies for affordable housing have declined, cities and developers across the nation are being forced to find innovative financing methods to create mixed-income neighborhoods. Old Town Commons (Alexandria, Va.) is one of the latest success stories.)

Roundabouts: A tool for placemaking

(RECAP: Designed properly, roundabouts enhance placemaking and the pedestrian experience. They are a gift to landscape architects as well as local gardening clubs, artists, sculptors and historians for celebrating local flora, fauna, geology, history, identity, culture, and values.) 

Ten Things You Should Know About Project Opponents

(RECAP: In the old days, most people thought you could not fight progress or City Hall. All that has changed. Here is some of what we think planning commissioners should know about project opponents.)

Inside Gentrification: The Emotional, Physical, and Financial Implications

(RECAP: A condensed conversation between practitioners and thinkers about gentrification sparked from a blog post about neighborhood revitalization on Rooflines.)

U.S. Access Board Issues Guidelines for Emergency Transportable Housing

(RECAP: New guidelines address access to temporary housing provided by the government during and after emergencies and natural disasters, including transportable housing, such as trailers. The new requirements address access for people who use mobility aids and communication access for people with hearing loss.)

May 27, 2014

Homebuyers, It Really Pays to Do Your Research!

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Micah Kemp is a VHDA associate who recently became a first-time homeowner. In this blog post, he shares some thoughts about what it’s like to be a twenty-something negotiating the homebuying process in today’s market. Watch for Part 2, coming soon!

So you want to buy a house? Awesome!

I just bought a house in January of 2014, so I know what an exciting, scary, stressful and rewarding experience it can be. If you don’t read another line of this post, here is the one thing you HAVE to understand: DO YOUR RESEARCH!

I didn’t have a clue about the homebuying process when I first started. To help, someone advised me to write down my priorities … nothing too formal, just simple stuff, like:

  1. Where do I want to live?
  2. How much money can I afford to put toward a house?
  3. What are a few things I have to have? (For me, it was being close enough to walk to a grocery store, having a yard big enough for a dog, and being somewhere we could eventually start a family.)
From there, things got a little more complicated. I didn’t know the first thing about buying a home or what I really wanted in a house, let alone if I could afford it!

Buying a house is a complicated process. While it’s easy to look at homes and dream big, it’s a lot harder to figure out what your first steps should be. That’s where VHDA can really help with the Homebuyer Education class. That class can teach you just about everything you need to know, from shoring up your credit score all the way to signing the paperwork that makes you a homeowner. I know firsthand how difficult it can be to learn the vocabulary, research mortgage rates and try to find a home. It can be a lot to take in, especially for someone like me who thought buying a house would be as simple as seeing one you liked and writing a check!

There are a lot of great resources out there to help you make a good decision, including online sites, VHDA’s Homebuyer Handbook and Realtors . You don’t have to be fluent in housing terms or be a real estate pro to buy a house, but it sure makes your life a lot easier if you can equip yourself with the a working knowledge of the process.

When you create a basic idea of what you want in a house and begin to understand the homebuying language, you set yourself up for success when buying your first home. I’m a VHDA employee and I had a ton to learn, so trust me when I say it really pays to do your research!

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May 21, 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.

Do we need affordable housing or affordable living?

(RECAP: The single-family home and the conventional apartment are both nice ways to live. But we need to broaden our thinking to allow a wide range of Americans with diverse needs (which vary throughout their lives) to have a big menu of housing options that offer the benefits of affordable living.)

Historic Tax Credit Toolbox: National Register Listing

(RECAP: Historic tax credits (HTCs) can provide a critical incentive for owners seeking to redevelop historic buildings, and the path to obtaining HTCs begins with National Register listing. In many cases, National Register listing can be a straightforward process, but challenges sometimes arise that can jeopardize project approval.)

Defeating NIMBY With Incentive Housing Zones

(RECAP: While it is still too early to know the final outcome of this experiment, there is good reason to pay close attention. It just might be that Connecticut is crafting an effective strategy for turning NIMBY into YIMBY in communities where you would least expect it.)

Gorgeous Housing That People Can Actually Afford

(RECAP: Four projects recognized by the 2014 AIA/HUD Secretary Awards “are shining examples of how the latest innovations in design, materials and building techniques are not just for high-end housing but can also offer lower-income families exceptional homes they can actually afford.”)

Planning on a Budget: There is an App for That

(RECAP: Tight on time, staff and budget, and looking for technology to help your planning effort? These planning tools can be used in any community and offer low cost solutions to common types of information that planners collect.)

HUD Rental Assistance on an Unsustainable Path—What Can Be Done to Save It?

(RECAP: How can HUD leverage its money more efficiently without completely abandoning the residents of high-cost, high-mobility metros like Washington D.C.? One idea would be to adopt a Race to the Top-style program to encourage cities to adopt more growth-friendly policies.)

May 15, 2014

UPDATED - Bringing Bicycling into the Building Cycle

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After publishing this post last year, we’ve come across an informative and inspiring article that helps cycling advocates plan how to “sell” cycling projects as a benefit to developers and municipalities. The US Department of Transportation offers the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Discretionary Grant program, that can be used to fund cycling projects. However, as this blog post on Streetsblog USA explains, you’d better bring usable data and a solid cost/benefit analysis to bolster your case. Check it out, re-read Jeb Hoge's post below, and let us know in the comments where and how biking benefits are (or should be) appearing in Virginia.

May 14, 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.

How L.A. Designed Simple Kits That Let You 'Make-Your-Own' Park

(RECAP: The initiative, dubbed "People St," seeks to fast-track applications from community groups to convert streets into public spaces for one year, with pre-approved design options.)
(Re-read our Parklets Plant Themselves in Public Places post from last year to see how Richmond's parklet experiment went.)

Accessible Frank Lloyd Wright House To Make Public Debut

(RECAP: Decades before the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Kenneth & Phyllis Laurent House in Rockford, Ill. was designed to be appreciated aesthetically from a seated position and included switches and built-in desks as well as other features and furnishings, all accommodating an individual in a wheelchair.)

Five Strategies for Engaging Residents on Sustainability

(RECAP: New affordable housing can be decked out with all of the latest green innovations as well as energy-efficient and water-conserving features, but maintaining a green development after construction takes additional work from property managers and residents.)

NeighborWorks in Rural America

(RECAP: NeighborWorks Rural Initiative, formed in 2000, focuses on building the capacity of rural community development organizations in the areas of housing and economic development activities. The initiative advocates a mixed market approach to strengthen communities with smaller populations by integrating them within larger regional economies.)

Why boomers are retiring to college

(RECAP: Many older Americans are trading the leisure circuit for the college campus in retirement. By moving close to a university, seniors are primed to get what studies show they want: “They want active, they want intellectually stimulating, and they want intergenerational retirement environments.”)

Charlottesville Ecovillage: Housing development centered on people, earth

(RECAP: In the typical co-housing model, often used by ecovillages, land is owned in common and individual units are owned by individuals. This ecovillage group already has begun conversations with area organizations, such as the Piedmont Housing Alliance, that may offer financial assistance to qualifying candidates.)

May 7, 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.

How Not To Measure Housing Affordability

(RECAP: Critics argue that smart growth reduces housing affordability. Their criticisms are partly legitimate and largely wrong, based on incomplete and biased analysis.)

Urban Alleys Become Pathways To Revitalization

(RECAP: Alleys are as old as cities themselves, and they started off as public spaces. Many cities are trying to activate -- or re-activate -- their alleys and make them human-scale places, sometimes with restaurants, retail and outdoor art.)

Access Board’s New Online Guides to ADA & ABA Standards

(RECAP: The U.S. Access Board’s new illustrated guides about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) explain requirements of the standards, answer common questions and include recommendations for best practices.)

You Must Remember This: Uses of the Past in Community Development

(RECAP: The past doesn’t supply practitioners of today with an operator’s manual, saying precisely how to solve the toughest problems in our field. It offers something else: a robust acquaintance with values, mistakes, possibilities, struggles and heroes.)

Senior Housing Rate Projected to Double, Driven By Urban Development

(RECAP: Many seniors are seeing their retirements unfold in urban centers and are seeking new and modern housing options rather than independent living communities, that are beginning to experience obsolescence.)

Crowdfunding: The Future of Multifamily Investing?

(RECAP: By bringing crowdfunding into the multifamily space, fundraising sites that mirror the popular but consumer-driven Kickstarter are providing financial opportunities to reach investors that sponsors might not have been privy to.)

May 1, 2014

Where Does Housing Mobility Fit Into Housing Choice Voucher Policy?

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Our attention today is on this thought-provoking Rooflines blog post from Philip Tegeler, executive director of the Poverty & Race Research Action Council ( Tegeler discusses how housing mobility strategies and housing choice vouchers are at odds with each other due to lack of progress in administration, despite an apparent common agreement that these strategies could be working together.

“Almost everyone agrees at this point that there is a place for both strategies in a balanced, “both/and” low-income housing policy. There is some disagreement about how much “balance” the various players in the system would like to see, and also some disagreement about how much choice the families who are the consumers of federal housing assistance really want. But the basic idea of a balanced policy is a common source of agreement. But the little secret underlying this ongoing dialogue is that there is almost no “housing mobility” policy being pursued at the federal level.”

Tegeler continues by referencing the challenges that face housing mobility as it relates to housing choice vouchers, and offers his thoughts about how HUD can work to improve these circumstances. Read the entire blog post at the National Housing Institute’s Rooflines blog.

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