June 26, 2014

Q&A with Earl Howerton of the Southside Outreach Group, Inc.

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We’re pleased to share a Q&A with another of Virginia’s leaders in community housing development. Earl Howerton is the Executive Director of the Southside Outreach Group, Inc., a Community Housing Development Organization (CHDO) certified by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). Located in South Boston, Southside Outreach Group has been servicing Halifax County and surrounding counties since 1995.

June 25, 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 Drone the Whole Neighborhood Can Control 

(RECAP: Could drones become social? Fatdoor, a social network for neighborhoods, has launched a Kickstarter campaign to produce Skyteboard, a quadcopter that can be controlled by local residents.)

If Affordable Housing Were Stylish Would We Build More of It?

(RECAP: The fact that many developers of affordable housing are actually doing a great job of making their new construction attractive and blend in with their neighborhoods seems to have passed this author by. Perhaps in fact because they have been successful.)

Census Bureau Requests Your Feedback on the American Community Survey

(RECAP: The U.S. Census Bureau just launched a new feedback form for American Community Survey (ACS) data users. They want to know which data you use most frequently, how you use it and if the ACS is your only source. Feedback will be collected through mid-July.)

Sprawl Is Ruining Memorial Design

(RECAP: How should we pay respect to our past? As communities grapple with tragedies, from school shootings to terrorist attacks, it's time to re-open the debate. Decide for yourself by taking a look at these examples.)

People-Oriented Cities: Three Keys to Quality Public Transport

(RECAP: Transport is inherently linked to urban development. The role of urban design is to make public transport not just viable, but effective in its implementation.)

2014 Neighborhood Revitalization Conference: Research and the Well-Being of Families in Tough Neighborhoods

(RECAP: The 2014 Neighborhood Revitalization Conference is July 24-25 in Washington, DC. With sessions designed to address some of the most complex challenges in place-based revitalization, the conference is a unique opportunity to network and explore together how to tackle the most pressing concerns in our communities.)

June 24, 2014

Inside The HFAs: Interviews with Housing Finance Agency Executives

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Inside the HFAs, a recent article in Affordable Housing Finance magazine, shares the insights of 10 housing finance agency (HFA) executives from across the country, including our Executive Director Susan Dewey. They share their perspectives on changes to Low-Income Housing Tax Credit qualified allocation plans (QAPs), preservation efforts, market trends and innovative moves their agencies have made in the past year to advance the production of affordable housing. Take a look and see what VHDA, as well as HFAs from Vermont to Washington state, are working on right now.

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

June 18, 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.

Urbanizing the Burbs: Fairfax Circle Plaza

(RECAP: At long last, the stars are aligned to re-develop much of this corridor as high-value, higher-density, mixed-use property that will fill the city’s coffers with greater tax revenue at little offsetting cost — and create an attractive place where people are more likely want to live and do business.)

Extra Credit: Considering Resyndication

(RECAP: Many owners of low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) properties explore “resyndication” or seek a new allocation of credits to preserve an existing LIHTC property. Preparing for and resyndicating, however, requires planning and due diligence, as the process involves both development and compliance issues.)

The Fire Hydrant Gets Its First Major Redesign In 100 Years

(RECAP: Today's hydrants break, leak and freeze, sometimes costing people their lives. The tamper-proof and incredibly durable Sigelock Spartan, designed by a former New York firefighter, is intended to work when people need them.)

Montross - The Mural Capital of the Chesapeake Bay?

(RECAP: The only way to describe the completion of three murals in the Town of Montross, Virginia, is as a contained but massive ignition. Suddenly, after seven years of careful planning, the Town's business-district-revitalization efforts came to life.)

June 17, 2014

Ending Veteran Homelessness in Virginia

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VHDA Community Outreach Officer Erika Jones-Haskins reflects on Governor McAuliffe’s signing of the national agreement aimed at ending veteran homelessness by the end of 2015.

It is exciting that Governor McAuliffe has joined the nationwide challenge to end veteran homelessness by 2015. Virginia has made considerable strides towards ending homelessness, and the recent announcement of the 14 percent reduction in veteran homelessness shows the clear and measurable progress that communities throughout the Commonwealth have made in such a short time. The goal to end veteran homelessness is not a new one. What is exciting is that we finally have community will, knowledge of best practices, resources, and leadership at all levels laser focused on best serving those who dedicated themselves in service to our country.

In 2014, The Homeless Outcomes Coordinating Council has included veterans as a target population and this commitment by Governor McAuliffe provides even more opportunity to redouble our efforts and further advance the goal of ending veteran homelessness by 2015. We look forward to furthering ideas “that work” and are excited about the clear message of commitment to homeless and at-risk veterans. Furthermore, we look forward to partnering with communities around the Commonwealth as they develop housing resources to serve our veterans and their families.
© 2013 VHDA, All Rights Reserved. Please Review the Privacy Policy.

June 11, 2014

Better Block Comes to Richmond for the First Time

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Change is coming to North Church Hill on June 13 and 14 and its name is Better Block. Better Block is a planning tool that allows residents and businesses to come together to make a positive impact on the community. Founded by Jason Roberts, the goal is to “create a safer and more inviting environment for people to work, play, and thrive” —  in two days. For the first time, this movement is coming to Richmond in partnership with Richmond Sports Backers Bike Walk RVA.

"The Sports Backers are excited to partner with Bon Secours, Capital One, the City of Richmond, the Richmond Area REALTORS, DaVita Dialysis and a number of other East End stakeholders to bring to life the full potential of the North 25th Street corridor of Church Hill North and Union Hill. For two days, we will see what a vibrant, walkable and bikeable street really looks like, with hopes that many of these changes will become permanent in the immediate future," said Max Hepp-Buchanan, Director of Richmond Sportsbackers Bike Walk RVA.

Any community can use this model for rapid neighborhood revitalization; the open-sourced tools are provided by Team Better Block to assist with “planning, designing and measuring the impacts of better block as an alternative to the typical urban planning process.” For more information about hosting a Better Block project, and to see other examples of Better Block in action, visit www.betterblock.org.

Find out about the upcoming event in North Church Hill. Follow Better Block RVA on Facebook for the latest developments.
© 2013 VHDA, All Rights Reserved. Please Review the  Privacy Policy.

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 New Way to Open Doors to Opportunity

(RECAP: The Move To Opportunity program is administered by Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME) with funds from the Virginia DHCD. The program connects qualified Housing Choice Voucher holders with the resources they need to make the move to an opportunity neighborhood with access to amenities such as jobs, transportation, good schools, grocery stores and retail shops.)

Libraries are dying? Think again

(RECAP: Despite enduring budget cutbacks and being forced to reinvent their services in the face of the ubiquitous Internet, public libraries remain staple institutions in various communities. In fact, 94% of people polled in 2013 said having a public library improves the quality of life in a community.)

Cities need to adapt as senior citizens’ housing needs change

(RECAP: Governments, investors and developers wanting to build housing for seniors face challenges similar to those of affordable-housing advocates trying to provide homes for low- and moderate-income families. However, there is a significant difference.)

Young Adults Aging Out of Foster Care Face Unique Housing Challenges

(RECAP: Youth are no longer eligible for foster care when they reach either age 18 or 21, depending on their location. When they age out of the program, many lack the resources necessary to find and obtain safe, stable housing, according to HUD.)

HUD Launches New Network Aimed at Helping Cities Learn From Each Other

(RECAP: NationalResourceNetwork.org has launched HUD’s first-ever interactive online library and tool kit aimed at helping urban professionals share resources and knowledge, and generally learn from one another.)

June 10, 2014

Chatting With A Community Housing Officer

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Erika Jones-Haskins, VHDA’s Community Housing Officer for Non-Profit and Homeless Outreach, provides her perspective on outreach to the homeless to interviewer Gabrielle Harrison. Jones-Haskins also shares how her background, passion and experience relate to VHDA’s mission to create affordable housing throughout the Commonwealth.

How did you become involved with assisting the homeless? 

I have worked in human services throughout my career, and prior to joining VHDA I worked for Homeward, the Richmond-area planning and coordinating agency for homelessness. Assisting individuals and families with housing needs is something I’ve always been passionate about. Addressing the issue of homelessness involves the perfect combination of all of my work experiences. So when I learned about the opportunity at VHDA to support affordable housing for those experiencing homelessness, I felt it was a great fit.

Can you tell us about your role at VHDA?

My role includes outreach to non-profits and furthering VHDA’s mission to support the creation of affordable housing for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. VHDA supports homelessness alleviation efforts through a variety of activities, including creating affordable and supportive housing, and enhancing the capacity of organizations that address the housing needs of the homeless. VHDA also supports resources like VirginiaHousingSearch.com and housing counseling, which homeless service providers use in identifying affordable housing for people exiting homelessness.

I am particularly interested in helping to promote an understanding of how services and housing go hand-in-hand in addressing the needs of those who have experienced long-term and chronic homelessness.

What do Virginia residents need to know about homelessness in the Commonwealth? What can we do to participate in bringing further awareness to homelessness?

I think everyone can play a role in ending homelessness. One way is to make sure people have access to housing that is affordable, safe and adequate. Housing is so critical to our well-being, and VHDA plays a large role in helping communities create affordable housing. Furthermore, I think it’s important for people to understand what homelessness looks like in their own community. To create change, we all have to educate ourselves about the local decisions that are being made and how homelessness and housing instability is impacting our communities. We can all find a connection if we understand how assisting those who are homeless can be an overall benefit to building better communities.

Over the past few years, the way we address homelessness has changed dramatically. As a result, we’ve seen some great outcomes to back up how successful we’ve  been at better dealing with the needs of homeless individuals. Sharing these success stories will be key to our future progress.

I would encourage people to find a specific organization or shelter to support local efforts addressing homelessness in their communities. You can become involved through building personal connections and volunteering with organizations that work to prevent and end homelessness and promote housing stability. Find that special talent or skill that you can offer and look for ways to participate. Many areas have web resources to find local volunteer opportunities; for example, Central Virginia offers the ConnectVA website. You can focus on a population or demographic you want to work with most and find an opportunity that will allow you to share your talent with those in need.

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

June 5, 2014

Connecting The Dots in Virginia

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Symposium Logo

Discussions about school performance very frequently turn into discussions about the surrounding communities and housing situations. With this in mind, Housing Virginia and the VCU Center for Urban and Regional Development have developed a symposium on the intersection of housing and education policy. Titled “Connecting the Dots Between Where Kids Live and Where They Learn,” this one-day statewide event will describe how approaches to education and housing policy are linked, how school performance and housing quality connect and how these two issues will define the future of Virginia’s communities.

June 4, 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 Future of America's Public Housing Stock: Demolition by Neglect

(RECAP: It's no one's job is to look at the big picture—where affordable housing units are located in relation to each other, when repairs are needed system wide—so housing stock is only repaired when money becomes available. A working group has just started meeting to consider a more holistic approach to keeping an eye on low-cost housing preservation.)

Rent or Buy? The Math Is Changing

(RECAP: Across much of California and the Northeast, prices are now high enough that the costs of owning a home – property taxes, repairs, fees to real-estate agents and mortgage interest – may outweigh the financial benefits, including the tax break.)

Skyscrapers in the Subdivision

(RECAP: The preference of Millennials and boomers for urban living, combined with city-center gentrification, will stimulate demand for urbanized suburbs. We’re used to hearing that suburbs are the problem. Could they also be the solution?)

Architects live in senior spaces to help elderly

(RECAP: When trying to get architects, and others interested in senior housing, to be savvy and come up with making a better fit between man and habitat, the key is to get designers to fully understand what residents need and require.)

Affordable housing in safe neighborhoods: Four lessons for success

(RECAP: Last year, HUD issued new rules advancing its mandate to “affirmatively further fair housing.” These rules require cities and counties that receive HUD dollars to expand affordable housing in neighborhoods that now exclude low-income families and families of color. A new book offers four lessons about why that goal makes sense and how to achieve it.)

Nominations Open Now for Distinguished Executive Leadership Award

(RECAP: Sponsored by Aramark in partnership with the Alliance for Children and Families, the award honors one outstanding executive director for leadership and an active voice on behalf of community centers. This year, eight Virginia agency executives are eligible to be nominated for the award, which includes a $40,000 grant to the winner's community center. Nomination deadline is June 25.)

June 3, 2014

Preserving Affordable Senior Housing: Free Training June 11 - 12 in DC

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If you’re in the business of providing affordable senior housing, you’ll want to attend this FREE training on June 11 – 12 provided by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), LeadingAge DC and LeadingAge Maryland.

Find out about 202 Direct Loans, 236 State and HUD Loans, Section 8 Contracts, TPVs, RAPP, Rent Supp and RAD, and Refinancing with FHA Financing and Low-Income Housing Tax Credits.

Location: 2519 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, D.C.
Contact: LISC Housing
Email: lisc_housing@lisc.org

For more information and to register, check out the registration website.