December 9, 2019

Acquire, Renovate, Sell: New Program Gives First-time Homebuyers More and Better Options

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First-time homebuyers in Virginia now have a larger pool of homes to choose from, thanks to a program introduced recently by VHDA and the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). The program is called Acquire-Renovate-Sell (ARS), and as its name implies, it has three distinct parts:

  • First, a property is acquired by a nonprofit organization, private developer or local government that’s been vetted by DHCD.
  • Next, the property is renovated, using funds advanced by VHDA.
  • Finally, the property is placed on the market for purchase by a first-time homebuyer.

After the sale, some of the proceeds are recycled back through the program, enabling other properties to be renovated and sold. 

Without the renovations made possible by ARS, most of these homes would have limited or no resale value. Funds for renovations are allocated through REACH Virginia, a VHDA self-funded program that provides money to help meet the state’s most critical housing needs.

Properties eligible for the ARS program are single-family detached homes, townhouses and condominiums, including foreclosed properties. Each home may receive up to $45,000 in ARS funds to pay for improvements and associated costs. Funds can be used for renovations to make the home more livable, energy-efficient or commercially viable, especially upgrades to plumbing and electrical systems, doors, windows, flooring and appliances.

The new program increases the inventory of affordable homes for first-time buyers, and reduces the number of unmarketable properties left unsold and vacant. Plus, renovations help to stimulate local economies, making the new program a win on many levels. 

For details on VHDA’s Acquire-Renovate-Sell program, including household eligibility requirements, please contact VHDA Director of Homeownership Lending Mike Urban at

New Workforce Housing for Fredericksburg

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In the fast-developing area of Fredericksburg, Virginia, affordable housing has a new address. In this booming market, where reasonably priced housing is so hard to come by, Orchard Ridge at Jackson Village offers 169 new apartments, and a second phase of construction will bring the total to 245. Here, teachers, hospital workers, firefighters, police and others can find one-, two- and even three-bedroom apartments that fit their budgets and provide a comfortable lifestyle.

All 169 units must be rented to individuals or families with $70,320 or less in annual income. There are several models to choose from; all feature 9-foot ceilings, open floorplans, upgraded flooring, oversized windows, designer kitchens and baths and a full-size washer and dryer. Community amenities include controlled entry access, lobbies with designer furnishings, bike storage, a dog park area, 24-hour fitness center, clubhouse, pool and a picnic/grilling area. The community is near schools, shopping, dining and healthcare, with easy access to both Washington, D.C. and Richmond via I-95 and commuter rail.

“We’re excited to be part of this community,” said L. Scott Armiger, President of Orchard Development Corporation. “Our group develops affordable housing and when we looked at the site and the Fredericksburg market, it looked like the right fit.” This is the fifth time Orchard Development Corporation and VHDA have teamed up on a project.

December 5, 2019

Revitalization and Workforce Housing Coming to Middlesex County

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Governor Ralph Northam (center) visited the Cook’s Corner revitalization site.

Middlesex County on Virginia’s Middle Peninsula is ground zero for a revitalization plan that is expected to produce multiple benefits for the region.   

In an area called Cook’s Corner, 24 affordable workforce housing rental units will be built by 2020 as a measure to attract and retain skilled workers. The new apartments will provide much-needed housing for Middlesex County employees — teachers, sheriff's deputies and others — as well as residents and employees from adjacent counties.   

While housing is the cornerstone of the plan, other components will boost the region’s economy and infrastructure. They include moving and repurposing a historic school as a micropub (a restaurant and mini-brewery), converting another vacant school building to a special events center, renovating a gymnasium and county offices, building a nature trail with signage commemorating the region’s African-American heritage, and extending water and sewage lines.

Early funding for Cook’s Corner has come from several sources: 
  • A VHDA Community Impact Grant is covering site planning and design work, a market study, the preparation of zoning and bid documents and other upfront development activities.
  • The River Counties Community Foundation awarded the foundation $150,000 over a three-year period.
  • Plan sponsors have also received a $2.25 million Vibrant Communities Initiative grant through the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) and a $480,000 Industrial Revitalization Fund grant.
The housing units will be developed by the Middlesex Foundation. (The chairman of their all-volunteer board is Bruce DeSimone, a former VHDA official with extensive housing development experience.) Other partners collaborating with the foundation include:
  • Middlesex County and its School Board
  • Middlesex County Economic Development Authority
  • Rappahannock Oyster Company
  • Middlesex Water Authority
  • Hampton Roads Sanitation District
The Cook’s Corner revitalization plan will check three important boxes – it will produce affordable workforce housing, it will create jobs and new tax revenues, and it will expand vital infrastructure through new water and sewer lines. It’s a textbook example of just how transformational such plans can be, and the difference they can make in a community. 
Learn more:
Chris Thompson, VHDA’s director of strategic housing, is your source for learning about the many different ways in which a Community Impact Grant can support community revitalization efforts. He can be reached at 804-343-5692 or