April 29, 2015

Plan for the 2015 Plan-Off at VCU!

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On May 6, Virginia Commonwealth University’s L. Douglas Wilder School hosts its 4th Annual Plan Off!, the Master of Urban and Regional Planning Student Tournament. The tournament will be held from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the University Student Commons located at 907 Floyd Avenue.

In this event—co-sponsored by the Wilder School and VHDA—graduate students in the school’s Master of Urban and Regional Planning program will compete against one another by pitching their solution to a real-world planning, public policy or management problem before a panel of judges.

April 28, 2015

VHDA Tax Credit Director Receives EarthCraft Virginia Award

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We are proud to announce that VHDA’s Jim Chandler, Director of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program, recently received the Visionary Award from EarthCraft Virginia. The award recognizes the outstanding efforts of organizations and individuals for their leadership in sustainable housing.

Chandler was recognized for helping to change Virginia’s Qualified Allocation Plan to provide tax credit incentives that increase the use of green building methods in the construction and rehabilitation of affordable housing developments. As a result of these changes, more than 17,000 apartments in Virginia have been or soon will be EarthCraft-certified as energy efficient housing.

The benefits of these QAP changes were supported by a year-long study conducted by Housing Virginia and the Virginia Tech Center for Housing Research. The study found that apartments designed, built and certified with the EarthCraft Multifamily green building program outperform standard new housing by more than 40% with respect to energy consumption. This makes the units more affordable and also provides benefits to residents that include increased comfort and improved indoor air quality.

Chandler received the award during EarthCraft Virginia’s 6th Annual Sustainable Leadership Awards program. Each year, EarthCraft Virginia presents awards in a variety of categories to builders, developers and other stakeholders throughout the region who demonstrate superior dedication to the advancement of sustainable housing.

Chandler was recently recognized by Affordable Housing Finance magazine as the “dean of LIHTC allocators” for his widespread influence in the Federal Tax Credit program.
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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.


April 29 Webinar: Building Financial Capability- A Planning Guide for Integrated Services

(RECAP:  Join the authors of "Building Financial Capability: A Planning Guide for Integrated Services” as they explain—step-by-step—how you can use their 13-interactive tools as part of a proven process for developing a successful integration plan for your community-based or social service organization.) 

Intergenerational Housing-The New Sharing Model?

(RECAP: With regard to housing, it’s clear that designing new models that mix the young and the old is becoming necessary, as affordable housing options for both groups don’t exist on the scale needed, and some programs are creating viable options.)

Citizen Surveys: Part 1 – How Surveys Can Support Local Planning Efforts

(RECAP: A growing number of communities are augmenting traditional meetings and forums with citizen surveys. A scientifically conducted survey of residents brings in the voice of the public like no forum, newspaper straw poll or focused discussion.)

For low-wage workers, finding affordable housing is hard

(RECAP: The wait for subsidized housing can take years for some units. Development plans with the phrase "low income" attached to them have for years received cold receptions among the region's local government planners.)

State HFAs Highlighted in TAC’s Report on Innovative Strategies in Financing ELI Units

(RECAP: A report by the Technical Assistance Collaborative identifies the success three state HFAs have had in financing supportive housing for extremely low-income households, and argues the approaches to supportive housing used by these states could be adapted to incorporate Housing Trust Fund dollars in 2016.)

Finding Gold for Green

(RECAP: The inherent complexities of the affordable sector make financing green retrofits at affordable properties a particularly demanding task. Yet our industry has some very creative professionals who are turning to numerous sources to make federally assisted properties more efficient.)

Opinions on Housing

The views and opinions expressed in Opinions on Housing are solely those of the original authors, and do not necessarily represent those of VHDA, our stakeholders or any/all contributors to this blog.

The U.S. Spends Far More on Homeowner Subsidies Than It Does on Affordable Housing

(RECAP: The real problem with American housing policy? The U.S. shells out roughly $46 billion a year on affordable housing. Compare that to $195 billion in subsidies that flow largely to wealthy and middle class homeowners via tax deductions for mortgage interest.)

Should policymakers address Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s shrinking role in Multifamily Housing?

(RECAP: Given the current rental environment, shrinking the GSEs’ role further is not only unnecessary, but also detrimental, especially for the underserved segments of the market. Considering the strong upward trajectory of the demand and cost of renting in the coming years, FHFA may need to do more.)

April 23, 2015

Downtown Revitalization Series: Alexandria

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The City of Alexandria, located along the Potomac River, is just six miles from the nation’s capital. Its unique character and proximity to federal government, defense, technology and contracting jobs continue to make it one of the hottest real estate markets in the U.S. With Alexandria’s population nearing 150,000 and an Area Median Income of $109,200, this booming real estate market makes new development and/or redevelopment of affordable housing both challenging and expensive.

In the past 10 years, Alexandria has lost more than half of its affordable housing units. To offset this trend, the City has established the goal of providing, preserving or assisting 2,000 units through FY 2025 by implementing the strategies and tools of Alexandria’s Housing Master Plan. An advisory group, comprised of the Alexandria Affordable Housing Advisory Committee plus six additional appointees, is spearheading the Housing Master Plan effort.

April 22, 2015

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 to Zero

(RECAP: Although the Better Housing Coalition, a non-profit community development corporation in Richmond, Va., has developed green dwellings for many years, Somanath Senior Apartments was its first foray into a net-zero energy building — to our knowledge, the first of its kind in Virginia.)

Who Wants to Move vs. Who Ends Up Actually Moving

(RECAP: A new analysis from the U.S. Census Bureau shows the U.S. suffers not only from income inequality but from residential inequality, as well. As the study makes clear, it’s lower income and minority households who are the most stuck in place, wanting to move but unable to do so.)

AFI Resource Guide: Building Financial Capability- A Planning Guide for Integrated Services

(RECAP: The interactive tools walk organizations step-by-step through the process of developing an integration plan, beginning with developing a deeper understanding of clients’ financial circumstances and which financial capability services can help them improve their situations.)

Demand High For Specialized Housing

RECAP: Although other programs operate homes with some modifications for aging residents with developmental disabilities, this one from New Horizons is exclusively for seniors with Down syndrome.)

‘Uber for Home Care’ Raises $20 Million from Investors

(RECAP: While the service, called Honor, is specifically a new model for home care, it might just be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how technology can be harnessed to profoundly alter both the way older Americans secure and receive services and the way in which professional caregivers do their jobs and get paid.)

Opinions on Housing 

The views and opinions expressed in Opinions on Housing are solely those of the original authors, and do not necessarily represent those of VHDA, our stakeholders or any/all contributors to this blog.

Real Estate or Health Care—How Do Financiers View Senior Housing?

(RECAP: Part real estate and part operations, senior housing has always counted on both components for success. And financing providers who invest in the space say it’s important to understand that both still play important roles when operators are approaching new projects.)

Ginnie Mae: Transforming the Evolving Marketplace

(RECAP: Ginnie Mae’s challenge is to perform a delicate balancing act in an increasingly complex environment. It has to adapt to changing circumstances while preserving the integrity and strength of our MBS program and ensuring that credit to buy homes is available to those who qualify.

April 21, 2015

Call for Nominees to Serve on Housing Counseling Federal Advisory Committee

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Here’s great news for our stakeholders involved in providing HUD-approved counseling services. To understand how its Office of Housing Counseling can best use its resources, HUD recently announced it is establishing the Housing Counseling Federal Advisory Committee.

Potential outcomes of the Committee may result in:
  • Identification of opportunities to expand visibility for, and access to, HUD housing counseling programs. 
  • Development of innovative public and private housing counseling programs. 
  • Identification of current and emerging needs for housing counseling. 
  • Development of metrics to ensure that the HUD program results in quality housing counseling delivery and a healthy housing counseling industry. 
The 12-member Committee will be equally divided among representatives from the mortgage and real estate industries, consumer interest organizations and HUD-approved counseling agencies.

The Committee is expected to meet twice per fiscal year, and at other intervals as needed to render advice to the Office of Housing Counseling. The first meeting is expected to take place in September 2015.

HUD is now accepting nominations for individuals to serve on this groundbreaking Committee. If you’re interested in applying for membership, or in nominating another individual, you’ll need to fill out an application. The submission deadline is May 14.
© 2013 VHDA, All Rights Reserved. Please Review the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

April 16, 2015

Virginia Regions Invited to Apply for “Stronger Economies Together” Project

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Here’s some exciting news we want to share with our affordable housing stakeholders. Virginia has been chosen as a Stronger Economies Together (SET) Phase V state for 2015! Thanks to this designation, two rural Virginia regions now have the opportunity to receive economic development coaching and technical assistance.

SET, a regional economic improvement program, has the goal of strengthening the capacity of rural communities and counties through the development and implementation of economic advancement blueprints for the multicounty regions. The program was kicked off in 2010 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development in collaboration with the nation’s Regional Rural Development Centers and their land-grant university partners. In 2012, Virginia entered SET Phase III and worked with the Northern Neck and the Virginia Growth Alliance regions.

Two multi-county regions in rural Virginia will be selected to participate in the 2015 initiative. A region is eligible to apply for SET Phase V assistance if it meets two conditions: encompasses three or more contiguous counties in Virginia or in conjunction with counties in neighboring states; and has a population and/or geographic area that is 51 percent rural in nature, or 75 percent of the land area must be considered rural based on census data or other sufficient data or documentation.

Completed applications must be submitted electronically by May 7, 2015. The two selected regions will be announced by June 30.
© 2013 VHDA, All Rights Reserved. Please Review the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

April 15, 2015

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.


New data on housing affordability points the way for housing policy

(RECAP: The pressure of spending too much on housing hits renters and owners across this country at many income levels, and the effects are most intense for people with the least means. There isn't a single policy answer, but rather several dimensions to pursue.)

Housing Vacancies and Homeownership

(RECAP: The U.S. Census Bureau’s Housing Vacancies and Homeownership provides current information on rental and homeowner vacancy rates, and characteristics of units available for occupancy. These data are used extensively by public and private sector organizations to evaluate the need for new housing programs and initiatives.)

Create Your Own Mobile Planning App

(RECAP: Chip-In is a mobile app that enables community members to "chip-in" by volunteering time, donating money, and/or even just merely thinking of community projects in their neighborhood. Not only does it help you to get involved within the community, it also gives you the tools to "make service social.")

Out of Reach 2014: Virginia

(RECAP: In Virginia, the Fair Market Rent (FMR) for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,088. In order to afford this level of rent and utilities – without paying more than 30% of income on housing – a household must earn $3,628 monthly or $43,536 annually.)

Study finds assisted housing works, but it could be improved

(RECAP: Housing Choice Voucher and Low-Income Housing Tax Credit programs have grown in importance since the 1990s and have improved their performance by moving more households into low-poverty, less distressed areas. Still, much more needs to be done.)

What Have We Learned From 30 Years of 'Aging in Place'?

(RECAP: Aging in place isn't just a matter of building housing for retirees. It's about fostering supportive community structures that evolve with age.)

Opinions on Housing 

The views and opinions expressed in Opinions on Housing are solely those of the original authors, and do not necessarily represent those of VHDA, our stakeholders or any/all contributors to this blog.

How Can We Build Support for Affordable Housing?

(RECAP: Gaining an understanding of what we need and what we mean by affordable housing is a necessary step to building support.)

April 14, 2015

Save the Dates: Housing Development Finance Professional Certification Courses

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We’re pleased to announce that the National Development Council (NDC) is coming to Richmond to offer their Housing Development Finance Professional Certification Program. This four-course training program, sponsored by VHDA in partnership with BB&T and the Virginia Housing Coalition, explores everything it takes to successfully develop and finance affordable homeownership and rental housing developments. Topics include:


You’ll learn skills taught using case studies based on actual affordable housing developments that NDC’s professional staff have structured and implemented by working with clients in communities across the country.

The two 2015 courses — HD 410: Home Ownership Finance and HD 420: Rental Housing Development Finance — are scheduled for September 21-24 and October 26-30, respectively, and will be held at the Virginia Housing Center in Glen Allen. The other two courses in the series will be held in early 2016. Participants who complete all four courses will receive the HDFP certification.

It’s not too early to save the dates and register for this exciting educational opportunity.
© 2013 VHDA, All Rights Reserved. Please Review the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

April 8, 2015

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.

Housing affordability improves slightly, but challenges remain for working renters and people of color

(RECAP: In Housing Landscape 2015, the National Housing Conference’s Center for Housing Policy examines trends in housing affordability for low- to moderate-income working families throughout the United States.)

A new Urban.org to elevate the debate

(RECAP: In the coming weeks, the Urban Institute will be launching a new website—one that has been completely redesigned to highlight the depth and breadth of its policy research. The site is also designed to cater to all the ways information is accessed in today’s digital and mobile world.)

The Secrets of Successful Communities – Part 7: Have Strong Leaders and Committed Citizens

(RECAP: A small number of committed people can make a big difference in a community. More often than not, they’re simply citizens who care a great deal about their community.)

Impact Investing

(RECAP: New sources of mission-driven private capital could step up to support community development where traditional sources of financing are withdrawing.)

Using ‘Green’ as a Community Revitalization Tool

(RECAP: Former industrial communities often suffer from the cumulative effects of multiple vacant and underused properties. These properties offer a strategic opportunity for stimulating revitalization, integrating community resilience, and restoring the ecosystem using green infrastructure.)

Opinions on Housing 

The views and opinions expressed in Opinions on Housing are solely those of the original authors, and do not necessarily represent those of VHDA, our stakeholders or any/all contributors to this blog.

Could placemaking become the new golf?

(RECAP: The US has more golf courses than the market can support. Can this surplus land be repurposed in a way that helps give our suburbs a stronger sense of place, contributes non-sprawling infill development and, at the same time, better-ordered public green space and ecological services?)

Fair Housing ‘Oops’

(RECAP: Liability attaches whether the fair housing issue is deliberate (call that “evil” discrimination) or unintentional (call that “oops” discrimination). Let’s look at some of those that seem to be the underlying bases for recent cases or which could likely lead to a complaint.)

April 7, 2015

Wells Fargo Housing Foundation’s Homeownership Grant Program for Nonprofit Housing Organizations

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Here’s a funding opportunity you might not have been aware of. This Homeownership Grant program from the Wells Fargo Housing Foundation provides financial resources to local nonprofit housing organizations to create sustainable homeownership opportunities for people with low- to moderate incomes.

Areas of interest for this grant program include: construction/rehab, subsidies for down payments and closing costs, home repairs, buyer education and counseling and foreclosure counseling and prevention.

Grants are awarded twice a year for costs directly associated with the areas of interest noted above. The next online submission period is June 1-30, 2015. You can learn more about grant use, funding restrictions and how to submit a grant application here.
© 2013 VHDA, All Rights Reserved. Please Review the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

April 2, 2015

Free! April 7 Webcast on Expanding Affordable Housing

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There’s still time to register for The Housing Affordability Opportunity: Lowering Costs and Expanding Supply. HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity International and Enterprise Community Partners, is hosting an evidence-based discussion on the barriers to expanding affordable housing and steps to address them.

The event, which centers on thought-provoking, interactive dialogue, is set for Tuesday, April 7, from 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. at HUD Headquarters in Washington D.C. The event is free, but registration is required to participate via webcast or attend in person.

In the U.S. in 2012, there were only 3.3 million affordable rental units available to 11.5 million extremely low-income households. In Virginia, the Fair Market Rent (FMR) for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,088. In order to afford this level of rent and utilities – without paying more than 30% of income on housing – a household must earn $3,628 monthly or $43,536 annually. Assuming a 40-hour work week, 52 weeks per year, this level of income translates into a Housing Wage of $20.93.

Despite these staggering statistics, detailed in a 2014 report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, there are policies and actions that can help increase the supply of affordable housing and reduce the housing affordability gap. The April 7 event is a part of those actions.
© 2013 VHDA, All Rights Reserved. Please Review the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

April 1, 2015

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.


Advancing Virginia’s Housing Policy

(RECAP: Follow the work of the State Housing Policy Advisory Council as they consider housing strategies and best practices to promote affordable housing opportunities for the Commonwealth. Housing is a key element in the Governor’s Plan to diversify and grow Virginia’s economy.)

Managing Neighborhood Change 

(RECAP: This report presents a strategic framework that can help practitioners and policy-makers foster sustainable and equitable neighborhood revitalization, building on solid market demand while ensuring the neighborhood’s lower income households will benefit from the changes that have taken place.)

Innovations in 1-to-4-unit Multifamily Developments

(RECAP: Small multi-family projects continue to vex community development practitioners. They’re notoriously difficult to manage at scale and may require rehab that makes them cost-prohibitive for nonprofit developers aiming to maintain affordability. Here are how innovations in one city may be transferable to another.)

The Secrets of Successful Communities – Part 6: Pay Attention to Community Aesthetics

(RECAP: The problem is not development, per se; rather the problem is the patterns of development. Successful communities pay attention to where they put development, how it is arranged, and what it looks like.)

About Disability.Blog

(RECAP: Disability.Blog, the official blog of Disability.gov, features weekly posts from subject matter experts who address important topics for people with disabilities, their families and others.)

Redefining Public Spaces for Older People

(RECAP: The elderly population in cities is growing, and research points to the health benefits of an active, connected lifestyle. So why are cities still so inhospitable to aging?)

Opinions on Housing 

The views and opinions expressed in Opinions on Housing are solely those of the original authors, and do not necessarily represent those of VHDA, our stakeholders or any/all contributors to this blog.

Protecting Affordable Housing Parties Against the Big, Bad Environmental Liability Monster 

(RECAP: A little up-front work before the deal is financed, may open up options, protect against risk and save a lender millions later. In other words, a little environmental due diligence may just keep that monster in the closet.)