February 17, 2015

Georgetown South: NoVa Neighborhood Making a Comeback with Homebuyers

Today’s post originally appeared in VHDA’s Fall 2014 Community Outreach Report.

A community of 860 townhomes, Georgetown South in the City of Manassas celebrated its 50th anniversary in September. Originally built to accommodate the housing demand of IBM employees working nearby, over time most of the original owners moved on as their housing needs changed. Georgetown South became less competitive in the local housing market, but remained a source of affordable housing as the area grew more expensive.

Many Hispanics who moved to Northern Virginia during the jobs boom of the early 2000s saw Georgetown South as a way to achieve homeownership. By the height of the recent housing bubble, its homeownership rate had reached 67 percent. However, after the 2007-2009 recession and foreclosure crisis, the community’s homeownership rate declined to around 37 percent.

In early 2013, leaders of Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement (VOICE), a housing advocacy group primarily comprised of Northern Virginia area churches, met with VHDA. The group asked for assistance in leveraging financial commitments and lowcost private capital it had received from several financial institutions. In response to their request, VHDA identified several resources that could support their efforts.

Today, we’re working with the Georgetown South community to:
  • Facilitate a focused Homeownership Education program by working closely with the Prince William County Cooperative Extension, an agency already providing VHDA’s Homeownership Education in the area. The class and materials are provided at no cost to the potential homebuyer.
  • Promote the Community Housing Revitalization Program (CHRP) funds allocated to Prince William County. Funds are used in conjunction with the County’s down payment assistance program, which is also available to residents of Georgetown South.
  • Provide low-interest, permanent mortgage financing for affordable rental housing through VHDA’s Sponsoring Partnerships and Revitalizing Communities (SPARC) initiative. The financing will support the revitalization of identified communities in the City of Manassas and Prince William County.
  • Help enhance communications by rebuilding the community’s website and launching a marketing and public relations campaign about buying homes in the community. These activities are a result of a VHDA Marketing Capacity grant provided to the Georgetown South Community Council.
This initiative is being conducted on a demonstration basis. VHDA’s strategy going forward is to use the Community Outreach elements put in place for Georgetown South as a replicable model for other communities impacted by a significant decline in homeownership.

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