May 28, 2015

Housing Counselor Campaign: Helping Consumers Make Good Financial Decisions

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Today’s post originally appeared in VHDA’s Spring 2015 eNews. Sign up for VHDA eNews.

Housing counselors are available throughout the state to help people when making major decisions about their finances and housing options -- but many people don't know they exist! That was the consensus based on a survey VHDA sent to 32 non-profit, HUD-approved housing counseling agencies, who receive funding through the HUD grant program we administer. As a result of that survey, our Housing Education and Marketing departments are now working with these agencies to launch a statewide awareness campaign about housing counseling.


The campaign will launch with online ads that lead to a landing page on VHDA's website. The landing page provides information on the availability and importance of housing counseling, the various types of housing counselors and that their services are often free. It explains how to prepare for a counseling session including what documents to bring, and has a link to the HUD website where you can search for a housing counselor in your area.

HUD-approved housing counseling agencies provide trustworthy, free or low-cost advice. They help clients understand if they're financially ready to buy a home, and how much they can afford. They also offer expertise in rental housing, financial and credit counseling, foreclosure prevention and post-purchase counseling including information on reverse mortgages.
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May 27, 2015

Housing Choice Voucher Admissions Preference for the DOJ Target Population – Update

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The following content is featured on the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) website and is being published with their permission. Stay up to date on the Housing Choice Voucher Admissions Preference for the DOJ Target Population by visiting the DBHDS website and selecting “Housing” from the navigation tabs.

HOUSING CHOICE VOUCHER UPDATE 

Beginning July 1, 2015, the Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA) is planning to make an additional 31 housing choice vouchers available to people in the DOJ target population. These vouchers will be available to individuals who are referred to VHDA by the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS).

VHDA allocated 32 vouchers this year as a result of interagency coordination with DBHDS and with the support of local Housing Choice Voucher programs; DBHDS was able to refer additional people in the target population. To date, DBHDS made 57 referrals to VHDA for individuals in the target population. Between now and July 1st, the total number of VHDA issued vouchers available to those in the target population will be 63.

As you may know, on December 8, 2014 Maurice Jones, Secretary of Commerce and Trade, sent a letter to every housing choice voucher program in the state, encouraging them to provide an admissions preference for individuals in the target population. A number of local programs have already contacted both DBHDS and VHDA, indicating that they plan to implement such a preference locally. Because of these developments, we encourage you to continue to identify individuals with an intellectual or developmental disability who want to live in their own rental housing, make a referral(s) to DBHDS and begin to prepare them to achieve that goal.

DBHDS continues to accept referrals from intellectual disability (ID) or developmental disability (DD) Support Coordinators, Community Integration Managers and Centers for Independent Living staff. We anticipate that there may be additional resources made available in the near future and acknowledge that there may be some program turnover, which could make both new and previously issued vouchers available for others in the target population.

Eligible individuals will be moved up on the list as referrals are made to VHDA. If an individual’s name comes to the top of the list and he or she decides not to utilize the voucher, his or her name will be removed from the referral list and a new referral must be submitted in order for the individual’s name to be placed back on the list.

REFERRAL FORM AND FAQ DOCUMENT 

Referral forms may be downloaded by clicking here. Please note that all referrals must be submitted on the referral form, dated January 23, 2015. For additional information, please download the FAQ document (dated 1/23/15) by clicking here.

REFERRAL PRIORITIES 

The purpose of the housing choice voucher set-aside is to provide opportunities for individuals in the DOJ target population to move into independent rental housing, with supports as needed from institutions, ICF-IDDs, nursing homes, group homes, their family’s home, etc.

If an individual is currently living in his or her own rental housing or would like to live with his or her parent(s), grandparent(s) or legal guardian, a referral will not be made. In addition, eligible individuals must be included in the DOJ target population, at least 18 years of age or older and be the head of household/voucher recipient for lease purposes.

To align with the spirit and intent of the DOJ Settlement agreement, DBHDS will make all future referrals for eligible individuals based on the priorities outlined below:

  • Priority #1- eligible individuals who, at the time of referral, have participated in the Rental Choice VA pilot program for no fewer than 24 months and are in good standing with the program (Priority #1 until such time as the state funding is not time limited). 
  • Priority #2- eligible individuals who, at the time of referral, reside at any of the Commonwealth’s training centers and who choose to live in a more integrated, less restrictive, community setting. 
  • Priority #3- eligible individuals who, at the time of referral, reside in a nursing home or non-state ICF-IDD and who choose to live in a more integrated, less restrictive, community setting. 
  • Priority #4- eligible individuals who, at the time of referral, receive ID waiver services in a congregate residential setting, such as a group home or a sponsored residential setting, and choose to live in a more integrated, less restrictive, community setting. 
  • Priority #5- eligible individuals who, at the time of referral, meet the criteria for the wait list for the ID waiver, or meet the criteria for the wait list for the DD waiver, and who choose to live in a more integrated, less restrictive, community setting. 
  • Priority #6- eligible individuals who, at the time of referral, currently receive ID or DD waiver services in all other settings and choose to live in a more integrated, less restrictive, community setting. 
You may also email Eric Leabough, DBHDS Housing Specialist.

Beyond Bricks & 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.


Celebrating Community: NeighborWorks Week 2015 June 6-14

(RECAP: Each June, NeighborWorks America and its network of local organizations mobilize tens of thousands of volunteers, businesspeople, neighbors, friends and local and national elected and civic leaders in a week of neighborhood change and awareness.)

Get more, spend less: How to support sustainable homeownership

(RECAP: A better approach to encouraging ownership that is affordable and relatively cost-efficient over time is shared equity homeownership—which is different from a shared appreciation mortgage. Despite its promise, shared equity homeownership has remained a niche market segment.)

How to Design a Pedestrian Mall That Works

(RECAP: Once inaccessible and crime-ridden, Charlottesville, Va.’s now-popular pedestrian mall offers a blueprint for other cities. The recipe for success is basic: All these malls should integrate with -- rather than isolate from -- their surroundings.)

Planning ABCs

(RECAP: These 26 short articles provide -- in alphabetical order starting with “A is for Automobile” -- a terrific introduction to planning in America. They were prepared for the Planning Commissioners Journal by planning historian Laurence C. Gerckens, FAICP.)

Making a difference for the homeless through public-private partnerships

(RECAP: There are more than 5,000 reported homeless individuals in Northern Virginia but only 1,065 shelter beds available. As part of efforts to change this harsh reality, members of the Northern Virginia Building Industry Association founded HomeAid Northern Virginia in 2001 so that their members could renovate and build housing for the homeless.)

Getting Started with the Housing Trust Fund (Part Two of Two)

(RECAP: Part one addressed many different aspects of the National Housing Trust Fund. This installment focuses on a few specific topics. State housing finance agencies will begin planning this year for how to use funding scheduled to be available in 2016. One of the most important of the numerous factors to consider is who will live in HTF-funded units.)

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 Costs of Smart Growth Revisited: A 40-Year Perspective

(RECAP: "Soaring" land and house prices "certainly represent the biggest single failure" of smart growth, which has contributed to an increase in prices that is unprecedented in history. This observation was made by one of the world's leading urbanologists, Sir Peter Hall, in a classic work 40 years ago.)

The Case for Giving Homes to the Homeless

(RECAP: It might seem obvious, but in lots of cities it's also proved quite effective. As far back as 2001, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania declared that providing housing to the homeless is a “solution that can pay for itself.”)

May 26, 2015

First-time Homebuyer Update: Why Aren't More Millennials Buying?

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Today’s post originally appeared in VHDA’s Spring 2015 eNews. Sign up for VHDA eNews.

With mortgage rates at historic lows, and home prices still below pre-recession highs, monthly mortgage payments are now affordable and, in many cases, less than the cost of renting. So, why is it that millennials -- the largest group of potential first-time homebuyers -- are struggling to establish independent households?

For starters, wages for young households remain low, which limits the amount of mortgage liability they can assume. Also, buying a home requires significant upfront savings for a down payment and closing costs. Low wages, high rents and heavy student debt prevent many millennials from accumulating these funds. Also, a substantial number of young minority households are first-generation homebuyers, and their families may lack the home equity or other financial resources to help with upfront expenses.

For millennials hoping to buy their first home, VHDA's new first-time homebuyer programs are launching at a good time. Our Mortgage Credit Certificate and 3% Down Payment Assistance Grant programs could help make the cost of homeownership a little more affordable for these younger homebuyers.
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May 21, 2015

3% Down Payment Assistance Grant: Helping First-time Homebuyers Reach Their Dreams

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Today’s post originally appeared in VHDA’s Spring 2015 eNews. Sign up for VHDA eNews.

VHDA's new grant program can help qualified first-time buyers by providing funds for the down payment -- up to 3 percent of the home's purchase price. What's more, no repayment is required!

This grant may only be used with VHDA's Conventional, FHA and Fannie Mae No MI programs, and there are program limits on household income and sales price. Funds are available on a first-come, first-served basis and must be allocated by June 30, 2015. For full details including a list of participating lenders, visit vhda.com/3percent.
© 2013 VHDA, All Rights Reserved. Please Review the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

May 20, 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 2020

(RECAP: In Housing 2020, Housing Virginia looks at the future of housing in Virginia through four lenses – Demographics, Economics, Finance and the Greening of our Housing Stock. In each of these areas they worked with an expert to identify and communicate what these changes are and what is needed to understand about these trends.)

Citizen Surveys: Part 4 – Ask the Right Person / Testing / Conduct the Survey & Analyze Results

(RECAP: More and more communities are using surveys to get a better sense of public opinion on a wide range of planning-related issues. For surveys to be of value, however, they need to be carefully prepared and administered.)

New Data on True Cost of Voucher Administration

(RECAP: HUD plans to provide housing authorities with data from a new report  commissioned on administrative fees for Housing Choice Vouchers, so housing authorities can model their own fee structures and plan for the future of their voucher administration departments. In the longer term, HUD plans to issue proposed rules based on the study’s findings and open a comment period in fall 2015.)

Getting Started with the Housing Trust Fund (Part One of Two)

(RECAP: The National Housing Trust Fund is the first entirely new federal source for affordable housing created in many years. This is an introduction for those administering the program and their private-sector partners.)

A Crowdfunding Site Lets You Bring Energy Efficiency To Poor Neighborhoods

(RECAP: Donnel Baird and his team have put together BlocPower, a social business that gathers together inefficient buildings into more attractive packages. It then finds the money from impact investors who get a decent return, though not a spectacular one.)

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.

Welcome To Our Neighborhood: A Manifesto for Inclusivity

(RECAP: Housing policy is not just about houses, it is also about people, and about who may live in a community. We challenge communities to proclaim, “Yes in our backyard! We welcome new neighbors. We encourage more diversity.”)

Misunderstanding the millennials

(RECAP: Most millennials will end up married, and with children, and living, if they can, in single-family homes, although perhaps later in life. When they arrive en masse, though, they will transform the suburbs, but not destroy them.)

May 19, 2015

Granting Freedom: Grant Money for Disabled Veterans in Virginia

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You’ve been there for us when it counted. Now Granting Freedom is here for you, with money to make your home more accessible. Granting Freedom is a grant program for home modifications for disabled veterans or disabled servicemen or women who sustained a line of duty injury resulting in a service connected disability. VHDA is pleased to partner with the Virginia Department of Veterans Services to make this program available. Here’s what one veteran had to say about the program.


Grant funds can be used to widen doorways and add ramps to make a home wheelchair accessible, to install grab bars in a bathroom or to make other modifications recommended by the VA that help eligible recipients feel more at home.

To find out more and apply, visit http://www.vhda.com/GrantingFreedom.
© 2013 VHDA, All Rights Reserved. Please Review the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

May 14, 2015

Mortgage Credit Certificates: Boost the Tax Benefits of Owning a Home

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Today’s post originally appeared in VHDA’s Spring 2015 eNews. Sign up for VHDA eNews.

We are in the final stages of developing our Mortgage Credit Certificate (MCC) program, which is projected to be available in May. An MCC could save a first-time homebuyer thousands of dollars by reducing the amount of federal income tax they owe.
Unlike an income tax deduction, an MCC is a dollar-for-dollar credit against a person's federal income tax liability. To qualify, homebuyers must be first-time homebuyers, or not have owned a home in the previous three years --but this requirement may be waived if the home is in a federal targeted area. The home must also be used as their principal residence, and maximum income and sales price limits apply.

For complete details including participating lenders, how to become a participating lender, how to apply for an MCC, and contact info if you have questions, please visit vhda.com/MCC.
© 2013 VHDA, All Rights Reserved. Please Review the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

May 13, 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.


What's behind the decline in first-time homebuyers?

(RECAP: FHA is the critical tool for providing starting access to homeownership for American families. The source of the overall decline in first-time homebuyers is a decline in FHA-insured mortgage originations, which are primarily made to those borrowers.)

HUD Report on Rental Market Dynamics

(RECAP: A report released the week of April 13 shows that between 2009 and 2011, the number of affordable rental units increased, but made up a smaller share of the overall rental stock. HUD’s Rental Market Dynamics report, based on the biennial American Housing Survey, focuses specifically on trends related to rental affordability.)

How Livable Will Your Neighborhood Be as You Age?

(RECAP: The AARP's new “livability index” grades communities on seven resource areas that aging Americans will need. The site covers 200,000 communities around the country, and includes county- and state-level data as well.)

Citizen Surveys: Part 3 – Select the Target Population / Survey Size / Questions to Ask

(RECAP: Opinion surveys are attractive planning tools because, when properly done, they provide an efficient way to collect information about a community. The most crucial issue related to survey samples is how well they represent the overall population or community of interest -- the “target population.”)

Will ‘Airbnb for Seniors’ Create a New Housing Alternative?

(RECAP: Similar to Airbnb, which pairs travelers with hosts who have listed their homes for rent, Room2Care is establishing a marketplace for people to find care and for others to list their own residences and services to provide care within their communities.)

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.

Lease Purchase Failed Before—Can It Work Now?

(RECAP: Despite historically low home prices, half of are renters not buying a home because their credit is weak or because they lack the financial resources needed to buy and maintain a home. For some of these households, near to recovering from the recession and foreclosure crisis, a well-designed lease-purchase product might help them lock into today’s low home prices while they replenish their savings and restore their credit worthiness.)

Small Ways to Make a Big Difference

(RECAP: The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit’s long and sterling track record doesn’t mean it can’t be enhanced and improved. Here are some examples of ways the tax code could be honed to expand the usefulness of the LIHTC.)

May 12, 2015

Housing First: Veteran Centered Outreach

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Today’s post is courtesy of VHDA Community Outreach Officer Erika Jones-Haskins.

People often wonder, “How can you take someone who has lived on the streets and immediately put them in their own apartment? Don’t they need a transition? How does that work?” The idea of immediately housing individuals with a history of chronic homelessness is known as Housing First. Although many people might not be aware of this program, which started in 2006, it’s proven to be an effective tool in the efforts of many communities to end chronic homelessness. To find out how it works, take a look at the video produced by the Veterans Administration. It provides a great overview of the Housing First model and how it’s being used as part of the goal to end veteran homelessness by the end of 2015.

Video not showing? Click here to view: http://youtu.be/BGNE7m_BFvE

To learn more about our programs for Veterans and Members of the U.S. Military, follow these links:

Home Loans for Veterans and Members of the U.S. Military
VHDA has several home mortgages available for active duty and retired military personnel.

Grants for Virginia's Disabled Veterans
Learn how our "Granting Freedom" fund helps Virginia's disabled veterans pay for ramps, stair chairs, grab bars and other improvements to make their homes more accessible.


This post was originally posted November 6,2014.
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May 6, 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.

Comeback Communities

(RECAP: June 18-19, NeighborWorks America is hosting a gathering of individuals from across the nation – nonprofit professionals, businesspeople, government officials, philanthropists and resident leaders – to hold a national conversation about what works and what doesn't to re-build and sustain healthy communities.)

Citizen Surveys: Part 2 – Why Is the Survey Needed? / How Much to Spend? / Putting a Team in Place

(RECAP: In Part 1, Tom Miller provided an overview of how citizen surveys can be of value to planners and commissioners. In this installment—and the next two—he covers his nine “rules” for completing a citizen survey.)

Why Designers Should Care About the Mechanics of Mixing

(RECAP: Plenty of urban spaces suppress interaction and empathy between people by seeming unsafe, uncomfortable, just plain too crowded … or not crowded enough. But if we really understood the mechanics of mixing, could we design for it?)

‘Scarcity mindset’: A new way of thinking about clients

(RECAP: When we hear about low-income families who take out mortgages they can’t afford, agree to predatory interest rates on payday advances or are chronically late on their rent, a common response is to “educate them!” But more education is not necessarily the answer.)

The House of The Future Will Be Solid-State

(RECAP: Just as transistors evolved out of tubes, so can a solid-state house evolve out of a current house. This is the pathway towards the future. The ideal solid-state house shall have no separate moving parts, and shall be endlessly customizable out of factory parts. And the solid-state house shall shrink.)

Step Inside The 10 Best Green Buildings of 2015

(RECAP: A few solar panels don't impress anyone anymore. So the 2015 edition of the AIA's Committee on the Environment Top Ten Awards includes buildings that all go much farther than usual. Here are this year's winners.)


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.

Immigration Is a Community Development Issue

(RECAP: Community development groups located anywhere are likely to have at least some immigrants within their constituencies, and in some cases might be seeing the demographics of their neighborhoods shifting significantly. This can bring new challenges that can take a community-based organization by surprise if they have not thought of immigration as relevant to their work.)

May 5, 2015

Read All About It: Proof ‘Net-Zero Energy’ Works for Multifamily Residents!

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As one of the stakeholders that provided financing for Somanath Senior Apartments in Richmond via Low-Income Housing Tax Credits and other VHDA funding, we’re proud to see this apartment complex for lower-income Virginians getting the national recognition it deserves. According to a recent article in Multi-Housing News entitled “Getting to Zero,” this is the first development of its kind in Virginia. (It’s also one of only a few net-zero energy apartments for seniors nationwide.)
courtesy of Chris Cunningham Photography
Built by the non-profit Better Housing Coalition on the site where an industrial lumber mill once stood, Somanath Senior Apartments serves residents who are 55 and older with incomes of 50 percent or less of AMI. Maximum income is $25,000; the average annual income of residents is $11,000. In addition to maximum energy efficiency, the one-bedroom apartments feature Universal Design and are fully accessible. After being certified for occupancy April 1, 2013, they were completely leased by June 1, 2013. 

If you’ve ever wondered how net-zero green technologies can enable a building to produce as much energy as its residents consume, you can read all the details here.
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