July 24, 2019

VHDA + GO Virginia: Partners in Economic Development

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If Virginia wants job growth and economic prosperity, it needs to offer affordable housing.

That’s one of two key points VHDA is making in its ongoing discussions with one of the state’s leading economic development initiatives – GO Virginia.

The second point follows from the first: VHDA resources and programs are helping localities boost their affordable housing stock. 

The GO Virginia Coalition was formed in 2015 by senior business leaders in the Commonwealth. It provides financial and other incentives for business, government and educational entities to collaborate in ways that foster high-paying job growth in the private sector. The coalition is divided into nine geographically drawn regional councils, each with its own economic and workforce development challenges and opportunities. Chris Thompson, VHDA’s Director of Strategic Housing, has been in discussions with many of them.

“One region we’ve met with wants to accelerate its growth in the biotech sector,” said Thompson. “We’ve talked about how VHDA could potentially help develop properties in which research and development facilities – or wet labs as they’re called – occupy the first floor, with entrepreneurs on the second floor and apartments higher up. Under the right circumstances, VHDA could finance the purchase and renovation of such properties, and even provide grant funding for front-end activities.”

This example reflects the development of a mixed-use / mixed-income property that has both a commercial and a housing component. This type of development just one of VHDA’s areas of expertise that can be a catalyst for job growth.

Another GO Virginia regional council decided to establish a housing subcommittee, following a meeting with VHDA. The region plans to apply for a VHDA Community Impact Grant to assess the redevelopment potential of properties located within its boundaries.

The link between jobs and housing is strong. Companies that expand their operations by adding jobs at a new location, for example, pay close attention to housing supply-and-demand considerations during their site selection process. A locality that lacks affordable housing units may be eliminated simply for that reason.

VHDA will continue to meet with GO Virginia’s regional councils, and explore opportunities for further collaboration. Our shared goal is to help ensure Virginia has the affordable housing it needs for a strong economic outlook.

For more information, please contact Chris Thompson, VHDA’s Director of Strategic Housing, at 804-343-5692 or Chris.Thompson@vhda.com.

VHDA Grant Delivers Funds to Conduct Housing Study: Lynchburg’s First Step to Meeting Current Housing Needs

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A recently completed study funded by a VHDA Community Impact Grant has given the City of Lynchburg valuable statistical insight into its housing situation, especially relating to a lack of affordable units for low-income residents.

The study was commissioned last year by the Lynchburg Regional Housing Collaborative (LRHC), an organization that focuses on poverty-related issues affecting the city.

The study looked at Lynchburg’s housing supply and demand environment from a number of socio-economic measures. It was conducted by Enterprise Community Partners (ECP), which used a sophisticated new tool called Enterprise 360 to collect and analyze U.S. Census-tract data.

ECP reported the following:

Half of Lynchburg’s households make less than 80 percent of the Area’s Median Income ($48,250 a year for a family of four).
More than 10,000 households spend at least 30 percent of their income on housing.
Of that total, nearly 4,500 households are considered severely cost-burdened, meaning they spend at least half of their income on housing.
The city lacks 578 residential units for its lowest-income households.
Seven out of 10 families that moved within the city in 2016 had incomes below $25,000.

The study’s findings have been shared with Lynchburg officials and LRHC members, which include Miriam’s House, Rush Homes, Greater Lynchburg Habitat for Humanity, Lynchburg Redevelopment and Housing Authority, Lynchburg Community Action Group and the city of Lynchburg. The group plans to use this data to prepare a plan to promote housing growth and stability. City staffers have been asked to analyze the data and its implications and recommend next steps to the city council.

July 8, 2019

Honoring a True Partner and Friend of Affordable Housing

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An early background in social services might not immediately translate into multifamily housing and property management. But, Scott G. Reithel has made it work seamlessly for more than 40 years.

Scott started off as a Child Protective Caseworker in New York, equipped with a degree in sociology and social work. That work eventually led him into housing assistance work, and from there he became involved in property management. Since then, Scott’s work with multifamily and affordable housing has taken him all over the U.S.

For the last 10 years, he served as Vice President of Property Management and Director of Fair Housing / Section 504 for Community Housing Partners (CHP) in Richmond, Virginia. Scott retired from CHP in early 2019 and is now a consultant.

During his long and rich career, Scott achieved the designations of CPM® (Certified Property Manager), NAHP®-e (National Affordable Housing Professional-executive level), and CGPM (Credential for Green Property Management). His knowledge of property management combined with his background in social services have made him a valuable resource to VHDA, providing expert input and advice to help our work with developers of multifamily rental homes and affordable housing management.

“It’s difficult to overstate the quality of good professional management of properties, and that’s what Scott brings to the table,” said Neal Rogers, Director of Compliance and Asset Management at VHDA. “He is very well-respected and people value his opinion.” 

Scott is also a member of VHDA’s Rental Advisory Board. VHDA relies on the expertise of advisory groups to provide guidance on programs and services, as well as insight into industry challenges across the state.

In March of 2019, Scott was a co-recipient of the National Affordable Housing Management Association (NAHMA) Industry Statesman Award. This award is given to a NAHMA member who is retired or nearing the end of a career. It recognizes outstanding leadership and service to NAHMA along with the affordable housing industry. Scott, who is a former president of NAHMA, also won the exclusive Member Emeritus Award in October 2018 from the organization.

For his efforts in developing housing and programs for persons with mental illness, Scott has been honored by the Eli Lily drug company and the National Mental Health Association and was given the Milwaukee Ovation Award. He has also been recognized for his fair housing work by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Scott is a stellar example of the people and partnerships that help VHDA accomplish our affordable housing mission in Virginia. "Scott's exposure to the affordable housing industry throughout the U.S. brings a wealth of knowledge to VHDA," said Neal. “It's wonderful to have long-term relationships with people like Scott.”