August 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.

How Can We Build Support for Affordable Housing?

(RECAP: How can we build support for affordable housing? That’s the question at the heart of a recent report from the Center for Housing Policy, “Building Support for Affordable Homeownership and Rental Choices.”)

HUD Encourages Chronic Homeless Priorities for Permanent Supportive Housing

(RECAP: HUD’s Office of Community Planning and Development recently issued a Notice “strongly encouraging” Continuums of Care (CoCs) to establish priorities for serving various categories of chronically homeless people in CoC Program-funded permanent supportive housing.)

Streetcar is approved for Columbia Pike

(RECAP: Columbia Pike in Arlington, one of the more successful commercial strip redevelopment areas spurred by a form-based code, will get a streetcar. Two years ago, the county board approved a plan for new housing that included saving 6,000-plus currently affordable units and adding more affordable units along the corridor.)

Young and Old Find Common Ground in Oregon Housing Community

(RECAP: At Bridge Meadows, a special housing development in Portland, troubled foster children and elders live side by side. While it’s doubtful this model is going to be the magic answer to elder housing and troubled youth, in some places and for some communities, it might be just right.)

August 27, 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.

Why 'Place' is the New American Dream

(RECAP: The new American Dream will transform cities and towns in the 21st Century. To understand it, we have to grasp a few features of the previous American Dream, which created the metropolitan regions that we know today.)

Community Land Trusts Gain New Activist Allies

(RECAP: The Right to the City, an activist housing justice alliance, broadens its agenda to include advocating for community land trusts (CLTs) and other permanently affordable housing arrangements. The alliance believes CLTs provide the opportunity for residents—including renters—to actually have control over their homes and communities.)

Understanding Disability in America Using Census Bureau Statistics

(RECAP: On, American FactFinder provides dynamically generated tables and maps, with dozens focused specifically on disability. In a country of more than 318 million, understanding disability across America is not simple. Census Bureau statistics, however, offer a great place to start.)

Older Americans Community Access Revitalization and Education (CARE) Act

(RECAP: The CARE Act, introduced by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) on July 31, creates a pilot project to encourage Area Agency on Aging support services to be packaged and targeted to residents in federally-assisted rental housing or low-income tax credit housing. The pilot is designed to increase access to available services for low-income, elderly adults.)

August 26, 2014

Designing your Urban Design Team

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The city of Charlottesville recognizes a need for expertise in landscape architecture in the Department of Neighborhood Development Services. They recently hired three planners with a landscape architecture background to focus on urban planning and design. According to a recent article on Charlottesville’s first urban designer, these staff members will “help facilitate, design and execute some of [the city’s] major transportation and land-use projects.” Other localities may be exploring the need for similar experience on staff and can benefit from the insight of Jim Tolbert, director of Charlottesville’s Neighborhood Development Services.

These planners will bring a new vantage point to the seasoned team. “We have known for some time that  we wanted to have planning expertise with a design background.  For many years, all of our planners have come from programs with a policy bias rather than design.  As a community concerned with issues related to urban development like walkability, better street life, biking, etc.  it just seemed to us that having folks on staff with a design background would enhance our staff and our ability to lead development,” said Tolbert.

The city’s governing body showed a growing interest in urban planning. “We realized that the need was more urgent when the mayor and council appointed a new urban design committee,“ Tolbert said. “With their interest in so many issues, we needed someone who could relate and work closely with them.”

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August 21, 2014

Arlington Mill Residences Finalist in Affordable Housing Finance’s 2014 Reader’s Choice Awards

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Have you heard?  Arlington Mill Residences, financed in part by VHDA, is a finalist in Affordable Housing Finance Magazine’s 2014 Reader’s Choice Awards competition (Urban Finalists Category). You can read all about it, and other multifamily properties across the country competing to be award winners, here:
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August 19, 2014

Four Factors I considered when choosing a home, Part 6

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An article titled “The Cheapest Generation” stirred up a conversation about what led some of our young professionals to choose their current or future homes. We’re pleased to present this series, Four Factors I Considered When Choosing a Home, to shed light on what homebuyers may be looking for. Feel free to share your own factors or thoughts in the blog comments section!

Name: Rebecca Rowe
Hometown: Endwell, New York
Current: Bellevue neighborhood, Richmond, Virginia
Education: SUNY Geneseo, Texas A&M and VCU
Job Title: Rental Housing Analyst

Four Factors I Considered When Choosing a Home

My name is Rebecca and I am a real estate addict. Even though we bought our house more than two years ago, I still get the MLS updates – just for fun. I routinely look at real estate listings, visit open houses and even got a real estate license – again, just for fun. It took us more than six months of looking, more than fifty houses viewed and at least three rejected offers before we found the one. And let me tell you that when we found it, it was love at first sight. My criteria?

August 13, 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.

Solutions 2014 Conference

(RECAP: November 18-20, this national conference on state and local housing policy will focus on the best practices that are helping communities across the U.S. meet affordable housing challenges.)

Demographia City Sector Maps Available

(RECAP: Maps have been published illustrating City Sector Model functional urban classifications for the 52 major U.S. metropolitan areas. The nearly 9,000 zip code tabulation areas of major metropolitan areas are categorized by functional characteristics, including urban form, density and travel behavior.)

Founding Member Profile: District of Columbia Leading Next Generation Urban Revitalization

(RECAP: Sustainable DC is Washington, DC’s plan to make the nation’s capital the healthiest, greenest and most livable city in the nation by 2032. The plan prescribes 143 discreet actions aimed at addressing four challenge areas and seven targeted solutions that cross energy, food, nature, transportation, waste, water and the built environment.)

What Do We Do With Old Public Payphones?

(RECAP: Resurrecting cities' phone-booth systems with Wi-Fi hotspots, tiny art galleries and more.)

August 12, 2014

Mixed-use/Mixed-income (MUMI) Funding Supports Murals for Revitalization

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Keith Sherrill is a Community Housing Officer in VHDA’s Community Outreach area and a subject matter expert on Mixed-use/Mixed-income and revitalization efforts. We asked Keith to share his thoughts on the “Murals in Montross” revitalization effort and how VHDA supports efforts like these.

How can public displays of art such as Murals in Montross contribute to town revitalization?
A successful revitalization effort needs to focus on addressing physical and economic blight in a targeted area. In a downtown area, this blight may be from vacant properties, dilapidated buildings, or poorly maintained properties. While physical improvements are important, you have to address the economic blight in a downtown area to create an environment where people want to spend time and businesses can prosper.

Murals and other art displays can help create this environment. Murals have been used to make a downtown area more attractive to people who visit and may desire to live in an area. Art, music or food festivals also can create traffic that supports businesses in downtown areas. These festivals bring in lots of customers, allow a new customer base to be reached and create excitement.

Why is it important that mixed-use/mixed-income (MUMI) funding be used for this type of revitalization project?
VHDA’s mixed-use/mixed-income (MUMI) grants provide localities with planning resources to pursue mixed-use development as a tool to improve their downtown areas. The grants also give resources to potential developers who can address key downtown properties that have the potential to “turn around” a commercial district.

Effective downtown revitalization requires a multifaceted approach. Accurately spaced commercial businesses may attract visitors and encourage walkable blocks. Housing located in downtown areas means both consumers and business owners can live closer to those businesses. This can encourage businesses to stay open longer and support evening and weekend traffic. Also, art displays are an attractive draw, encouraging people to visit areas which they might not otherwise consider. A particular MUMI success story is the Hippodrome Theater, located in Richmond, Virginia’s historic Jackson Ward. Buildings such as this are being preserved and revitalized into hubs for business and living.

How does VHDA become involved in this type of revitalization project? What are some areas that have benefited?
VHDA’s MUMI grants are a response to the need for combined financing for mixed-use projects within a downtown area. This funding is critical because it is difficult to finance small retail space downtown in an area that is struggling.

VHDA partners with local governments around Virginia to support revitalization efforts, including efforts in downtown areas. The desire for adaptive reuse of critical buildings is sometimes the goal that starts the planning stage. VHDA assists with MUMI planning grants to determine the feasibility of specific mixed-use projects, study the housing needs in a particular area and encourage investment in mixed-use projects and in master planning for redevelopment of specific targeted areas.

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

August 6, 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.

Getting back to Fairfax, VA’s historical roots for the benefit of future generations

(RECAP: Rapid home growth and the suburban expansion of the 1950s and 60s have meant that Fairfax’s 6.3 square miles have largely been built out since the mid 20th century. Today, with an aging population as well as aging infrastructure and housing stock, the city is on the cusp of some major, needed changes.)

Affordable Housing Leads to Smarter Kids

(RECAP: In the world of human services, everything is linked, and one of the main axles around which things connect and spin is stable, affordable housing. If there was any doubt about housing's importance, particularly where it relates to the healthy development of kids, a new study erases it.)

Open Source Redevelopment: An evolutionary path for urban & rural revitalization?

(RECAP: Open Source Redevelopment isn't likely to change the community revitalization power structure; at least, not in the near future. Its major impact will be in opening the redevelopment process to a far more diverse universe of inputs.)

Developers See Opportunity as Old Nursing Homes Become Obsolete

(RECAP: The design elements for post-acute care facilities of the 1960s, such as shared rooms and cafeteria-style dining, have become dinosaurs of the industry. In their stead are upscale, hotel-style models that are redefining post-acute care communities.)

Fair Housing and the Data Paradox

(RECAP: In general, most would agree that improved data accessibility is a good thing; however, increased availability is not without its challenges, particularly for low-income households and their advocates. We need researchers to investigate whether the availability of data has affected patterns of racial and economic segregation.)

August 5, 2014

10 things communities can do to create affordable housing

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If you’re reading this, you may already understand the importance of affordable housing. What you may not know is how to create it. The Virginia Housing Coalition’s publication, Home Matters for Virginia, contains a wealth of information every community can use. Take a moment to review their 10 Things Communities Can Do To Create Affordable Housing and let us know if you agree or have additional suggestions.