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Report by the Virginia Housing Coalition 2014

VA Home Matters速 is a national movement uniting America around Home. For more information visit


| Home Matters for Virginia 2014

TABLE OF CONTENTS 4 6 8 9 10 11 12 13 15 16 17 18 20 22 24 26 27

Introduction What is Affordable Housing? Affordable Housing Connections Affordable Housing + Jobs Affordable Housing + Health Affordable Housing + Schools Affordable Housing + Transportation Who Needs Affordable Housing? Homelessness: Progress and Challenge Cost Burden: The Rent is too $%#! High! What is the Housing Wage? Rental Housing Needs Homeownership: Building Wealth Virginia’s Housing Trust Fund 10 Things Communities Can Do Conclusion & Acknowledgements Sources Cited

The Virginia Housing Coalition has produced this report in support of Home Matters® (, a national movement to make Home a reality for everyone by elevating the importance of Home’s impact on people’s health, education, personal success, public safety, and the economy. Participating in Home Matters is a coast-to-coast coalition comprised of members of the general public, leaders of housing and community development organizations, and other organizations concerned about increasing the positive impact of Home in their communities.

Virginia Housing Coalition






FAMILIES come first my day BEGINS and ENDS bodies and souls are NOURISHED



we GATHER with loved ones

I keep my THINGS






the HEART is


we stay WARM and DRY


• A “cost burdened” household is one that is spending more than 30% of its income for housing. In Virginia, we have more than 1 million households, both owners and renters, that are cost burdened. • While progress has been made in reducing homelessness, over 7,600 individuals were homeless in Virginia during the 2013 Point in Time Count. In addition, there were more than 950 households with one or more children experiencing homelessness. • The “Housing Wage” in Virginia is $20.93 per hour - what it takes, on average, to afford a 2-bedroom apartment. That’s the highest of all the states in the Southeast.


| Home Matters for Virginia 2014


less individuals who were provided with stable housing.

Why Does HOME Matter in Virginia?

• Seniors and other persons with disabilities who are able to stay at home in affordable housing, live independently, and access the services they need are able to significantly delay the need for skilled nursing care. Medicaid accounts for almost 40% of all nursing home expenditures in the US.1

The value of housing and homes is inextricably linked to most of what we care about in Virginia… our families, our neighbors, our communities, our schools, our economy. If we ignore housing, we risk harming our citizens, their jobs and the economic fabric of the Commonwealth. One needs to look no further than the damage inflicted from the housing crash in 2008 – an event from which we have not yet fully recovered.

• Virginia is engaged in an effort to offer greater community integration – including affordable housing – to persons with developmental disabilities. If a person can live in a community setting, that can be far less costly to the state than an institutional setting.

Affordable Housing is Good for the Economy: • Housing is an important economic contributor to the state’s economy. The construction of housing creates jobs not only in the construction trades, but in engineering, architecture, finance, selling and leasing, management and a myriad of other fields.

• Stable, good quality housing has also been shown to have a correlation with reduced police and public safety expenditures.

Affordable Housing is Good for Our Communities: • Healthy communities are vibrant and diverse. They provide a mix of commercial and residential uses. They attract all types of families and workers. When asked where they want to live, Millennials (young adults aged 18-35) overwhelmingly describe these types of communities.

• Housing construction has a “ripple” effect where the initial, direct spending on construction “ripples” through the economy and is multiplied through a series of transactions. The construction worker takes her family out to dinner, the restaurant waitperson buys groceries, the grocery store clerk goes to the movies, the ticket taker gets a haircut at the salon and on and on.

• In high cost communities, employers looking to re-locate or expand are frequently asking if the community offers housing that their workers will be able to afford. Employers know that attracting a workforce that must commute long distances is a challenge.

• In a study of the Virginia Housing Trust Fund, Chmura Associates projected that a $10 million per year state allocation into a Housing Trust Fund would inject over $1 billion into the state’s economy over a ten year period. That level of expenditure would support almost 6,000 jobs over the same time period.

• Affordable housing allows our children to stay in the neighborhoods where they grew up. They can remain stable, committed neighbors. • Traffic congestion and acres of highway are not compatible with good community quality of life. When a community ensures that the people who work in local businesses are also able to live there, it takes demand off the highways and improves the quality of life for workers by getting them out of their cars and home with their family.

Affordable Housing is Good for the Taxpayer: • Studies have shown that stable housing not only benefits the resident, it reduces the level of public costs incurred by that individual. A recent study in Portland, Maine measured a 46% decline in total health care costs of formerly home-

The Hastings Center, Health Care Cost Monitor





Virginia Housing Coalition

0 $100






YOUR WALLET Not only does it help your personal budget, but affordable housing decreases the level of public costs incurred by an individual. Healthcare, public safety, and transportation costs are also reduced with the availability of affordable housing.

THE COMMUNITY Affordable housing creates diverse, efficient, and healthy communities. Affordable communities attract employers and businesses, and allow children to remain in the neighborhoods they grew up in. Mixed-use, live-work communities are not only attractive, but better for the environment and their residents.


The construction of affordable housing creates jobs, which gives people money to put back into the local economy. Put in $10 million to a Housing Fund for 10 years, generate over $1 billion in economic revenue.




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WHAT IS AFFORDABLE HOUSING? If you’ve been involved in affordable housing for a decade or more, you have seen the terminology shift on many occasions. There was a time in the US where “public” or “government” housing was the common way to describe all affordable housing. The residents of such housing were often described with terms such as “poor”, “low-income”, “welfare households” and rarely as “working families”. Over the last several years, other terms have begun to be used including “affordable” and “workforce”. These terms attempt to remove the stigma associated with previous words but more importantly, to push the reset button on what we mean when we talk about “affordable housing”.

Many of the stereotypes that still shape the public view of “affordable” housing come from decades ago when government assisted housing was intentionally segregated and very poor families were concentrated in dense communities in undesirable locations. Today, housing that is “affordable” is generally well designed, high quality and well located. It primarily serves working families and is much more likely to include a mix of incomes than the concentrations of high poverty households that were common in the past. In this report, we choose to use the term “affordable” because it applies to everyone from retired seniors, to working families, to persons with disabilities… to the wealthy, the moderate income and the lower income. All of these households need and deserve affordable housing. Affordable housing should be no different than any other type of housing. It may include a subsidy of some type – that could be a grant, a reduced interest rate, a density bonus that permits the developer to build more units per acre, discounted utility connections, real estate tax abatement, federal income tax relief (of the type that most homeowners enjoy through the mortgage interest deduction) and many others. Some affordable housing – so called “market rate” affordable – has no subsidy but maintains its affordability by virtue of its location, age, condition, design and other features.

When is Housing “Affordable” ? Housing is affordable when it doesn’t cost so much that families don’t have enough left for other basic necessities like food, health care, transportation, education, clothing and other personal needs. The thing about housing is that it is not only the highest priority in most family budgets, it is also the single largest piece of the family budget pie. Over the years, there have been many attempts to define this “affordability” level. Initially, the federal government set this at 20% of income in the 1930s and moved it to 25% of income by the late 60s. Finally, it was raised to 30% over 30 years ago and remains there today as the accepted national standard. So what does that mean? A family with two full time minimum wage workers earns $30,160 annually. Using the 30% threshold, this family can only afford $754 per month for housing. While this barely gives them enough income to afford a 2BR apartment in rural Lee County at $617 per month, it doesn’t even come close to an apartment in Virginia Beach at $1,130 or Fairfax County at $1,469.21 Over the years, many terms have been used to describe affordable housing. • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Public Section 8 Low Rent Low Income Government HUD Rent Assisted FHA Workforce Subsidized Rent Supplement Grant Funded Tax Credit Housing Authority

National Low Income Housing Coalition, Out Of Reach 2014


Virginia Housing Coalition

If Affordable Housing is Wonderful, Why is there NIMBY? Opposition to affordable housing has deep roots that grow in the soil of misunderstanding and misperception. NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) is built around outdated information and “urban legends” that may “sound” right but don’t stand the test of objective research and analysis. NIMBY is frequently caused by widespread and enduring misperceptions that include: Affordable Housing Lowers Property Values: Study after study has shown that the development of affordable housing does not correlate to declining property values. Indeed the development of high quality housing can stimulate additional public and private investment – raising property values and improving neighborhood desirability. Affordable Housing Causes Crime: Studies show that what causes crime is community disinvestment, overcrowding, a lack of jobs and community services. Well managed, mixed income housing with services can reduce, not increase, criminal activity.

Affordable Housing Increases Traffic: Studies show that residents of affordable housing own fewer cars and drive less than their neighbors in single family subdivisions. By building affordable housing near jobs, the number and length of commuting trips can be reduced. Denser, apartment style housing can support public transit in ways that less dense development cannot.

How is Affordable Housing Produced? Only a tiny fraction of “affordable” housing is produced and owned by the government. New Public Housing construction in the nation and Virginia has been reduced to a handful of housing units each year. The vast majority of affordable housing is produced and owned by the private sector. It takes a complex process and the assembly of a “layer cake” of financing to successfully create high quality affordable housing today. These “public-private” partnerships are the way of the future. They include non-profit and for-profit developers, banks, local-state-federal governments, architects, lawyers, engineers, bankers, private philanthropies, and a host of other actors.

Affordable Housing Overcrowds Schools: The facts are that single family detached homes have two to three times the number of school age children as do apartments. Affordable Housing Increases Demand on Infrastructure: The truth is that infrastructure costs decline as density increases. Single family homes place much greater demand on infrastructure than do apartments.








| Home Matters for Virginia 2014


many other ISSUES

TR 2+2=4








Virginia Housing Coalition

HOUSING + JOBS Affordable Housing and Its Effects on Workers Housing has a great impact on local and regional economies. The availability of affordable housing is an important building block for strong regional economies. However, when there is a shortage of affordable housing, workers move further out to find less expensive housing and the effects are dispersed. Workers that spend more on transportation and commuting have less disposable income to spend on other items. Long commutes can also result in lower worker productivity. Workers that travel long distances may eventually look for employment closer to their homes, which can create higher employee turnover and higher costs for recruitment and retention. Longer commutes also creates more traffic on the roads. This impacts the environment, increases demand for infrastructure, and reduces the overall quality of life for workers.


Affordable Housing and Its Economic Benefits Affordable housing also stimulates state and local economies. The short term effects take place during construction. Economic growth and jobs supported over the long term occurs after construction is completed, and continues throughout the life of the residential development. These impacts are significant. Housing Virginia’s Residential Construction Economic Impact Calculator demonstrates the impact an affordable housing development can have on a local economy. For example, when a new garden style apartment with 100 units is constructed in the City of Richmond, there is both short and long term economic impact, as can be seen in the chart below.

Figure 1: Economic Impact Calculator for 100 Unit Apartment Construction

Economic Impact Short Term Estimated Job 560 Creation Estimated Gross $631,389 Fiscal Revenues Estimated Local $36,028,189 Economic Growth

Long Term Estimated Jobs 9 Supported Estimated Gross $664,328 Fiscal Revenues Estimated Local $1,086,180 Economic Growth Source: HVA Sourcebook



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HOUSING + HEALTH Housing is a basic human need. It is also an important foundation for the health of children and families. The stability and quality of housing is closely linked to physical and mental health. Many low-income families are forced to live in substandard housing because they cannot afford market rents and there is a shortage of affordable housing. Substandard housing is often characterized by dust, mold, and cockroaches; peeling lead paint; and unsafe structural conditions. In rural areas, it can also include housing that lacks indoor plumbing. These conditions pose serious challenges to healthy living. A study by Dr. Megan Sandel from Children’s HealthWatch found that there are many links between poor housing and poor health in children. For example, exposure to molds, chronic dampness, and tobacco smoke is linked to asthma; exposure to lead can cause long-term effects that stunt brain development; and living in poor and unsafe neighborhoods increases rates of mental health problems. Many low-income families are also forced to move Figure 2: Health Benefits of Affordable Housing

Benefits of Affordable Housing Frees up family resources Greater residential stability Well constructed and managed housing developments More stable and efficient platform for ongoing delivery of health care Access to neighborhoods of opportunity where residents feel safe Less overcrowding Allows victims of domestic violence to escape abusive homes Links to supportive services

frequently to live with friends and relatives. Unexpected expenses, such as increased rent or an illness, can make rent unaffordable. This also threatens the health of children and families. Research shows that for children, moving two or more times increases the risk of obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and other chronic diseases. Frequent moves are also linked to stress and depression. Homelessness poses the greatest threat to physical and mental health. Homeless children require more emergency and outpatient medical care than children who have stable housing. There are many long-term benefits to affordable housing. Research shows that housing subsidies free up resources for necessities such as food and health care. As a result, children on subsidized housing wait lists are at an increased risk for below average growth and compromised brain development compared with children living in affordable housing. Affordable housing also provides greater residential stability, increased control over the physical environment, access to neighborhoods of opportunity, and reduced environmental pollutants, all of which have positive effects on health.31 Center for Housing Policy, 2011


Why It Matters Families have funds for other essential needs like nutritious food, medical insurance, and health care. Reduces stress and other adverse health outcomes. Limits exposure to allergens, neurotoxins, and other dangers Easier to maintain treatment regimens Residents experience reductions in mental health problems, including psychological distress, depression, and anxiety disorder. Reduces exposure to stressors and infectious disease Leads to improvements in mental health and physical safety Enables older adults and others with mobility limitations to remain in their homes Source: Center for Housing Policy, 2011

Virginia Housing Coalition

HOUSING + SCHOOLS With few exceptions, schools in the United States with high concentrations of students from low-income families perform less well than schools with low concentrations of poverty. Last year, more than one-half of fourth and eighth graders who attended high-poverty schools failed the national reading test, compared to fewer than one in five students from the same grade levels who attended low-poverty schools. The average achievement gap between high- and low-poverty schools has remained virtually unchanged over the past ten years, and slightly exceeds the black-white student achievement gap.



Given the large, persistent academic achievement gap between low- and high- poverty schools, many social scientists and policymakers engaged in housing and education argue that children in low-income households derive substantial benefits from living and attending schools in economically integrated neighborhoods.41 It’s worth emphasizing the findings of researchers in this field. Simply moving children to higher performing schools via busing or transportation programs does not have the same lasting impact in educational outcomes as does a policy that makes it possible for those children to grow up in economically integrated neighborhoods. The connections between housing policy and school policy are wide and deep. Nearly every Shwartz, Housing Policy is School Policy


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REALTOR knows that when families are making choices about where to look for a home to purchase, most of them have school performance high on their list of desirable neighborhood features. The desirability of good schools has a clear impact on prices since homes in “good” school cachement areas are in higher demand. That higher demand drives up prices. In fact, a recent study by Brookings found that “housing costs are 2.4 times greater near a better performing school, as judged by state test scores, than near a lower performing school”. The ways our communities have developed and how they look is deeply rooted in the connections between schools and housing. Even beyond this most basic linkage, housing and education continually intersect. For children in homeless families and children in households that experience housing instability, there is ample evidence that their ability to compete in school is seriously impacted. From a financial perspective, a recent study in Hampton Roads showed the significant economic impact that homelessness has on school districts in the region. These are funds that could be used to enhance basic education programs if these homeless children were in stable and permanent homes. The quality of housing itself has a direct impact on school performance. Affordable housing can reduce overcrowding and other sources of housing-related stress that lead to poor educational outcomes by allowing families to afford decentquality homes of their own. Housing and health also comes in to play as housing related health conditions such as asthma and lead poisoning have a direct effect on educational achievement. Finally, housing mobility programs such as “moving to opportunity” housing vouchers can enable low income families to move beyond areas of concentrated poverty into communities where access to good schools, as well as jobs, transportation and services is greatly enhanced. Children in these households outperform those who remain behind in communities where very low incomes are the norm.

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HOUSING + TRANSPORTATION In Virginia, over three-quarters of households have at least one household member who works. The vast majority of these people work outside the home. Housing affordability is impacted by where workers live and where they work. To better gauge housing affordability for working households, the average cost of commuting is added to the median cost of housing. For working households, this provides a more complete picture of housing affordability. As a result of high housing costs in communities where they work, many families choose to live in outlying communities. As a result, these families tend to have higher transportation costs because they have to pay for long commutes, which impacts housing affordability. Just as 30% is the maximum percentage of income that a household can affordably devote to housing, The Center for Neighborhood Technology suggests that the maximum share of household income that should be spent on combined housing and transportation costs is 45%. Once transportation costs are considered, many more households are cost burdened.51 Center for Neighborhood Technology, 2014



As can be seen from the data, in the BlacksburgChristiansburg-Radford MSA, the Danville MSA, the Harrisonburg MSA, and the Kingsport-Bristol MSA, over 90% of households are cost burdened when housing and transportation costs are considered together. Because of its higher incomes, the Washington MSA has the lowest rate of cost burden when housing and transportation costs are considered together. However, when just looking at lower income households, the Northern Virginia area is extremely unaffordable. When households spend a greater portion of their income on housing and transportation, they have less disposable income to spend on non-essential items such as local retail goods and services, which negatively impacts the local economy. They also have less to spend on necessities such as food, health care, child care, and savings.62 HVA Sourcebook, 2014



Figure 3: Housing + Transportation Affordability Index, Virginia (CNT 2012) % Households Paying >30% Income on Housing Costs % Households Spending >45% Income on Housing + Transportation Costs

100 80 60 40




VA Beach-NorfolkNewport News










Virginia Housing Coalition

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The kind of people who need affordable housing goes well beyond their employment and salary level. One of the biggest emerging needs is for young “Millennials” who are just graduating from college (often with high levels of college debt) or starting their first job. The recession has hit this group hard – many need to work in “volunteer” positions just to get work experience. Over one third of this group report moving back into their parent’s home because of the cost of housing. Millennials are the future of our communities and we need to find ways to help them stay in the towns and cities where they grew up.

There are a myriad of other households for whom affordable housing presents a challenge. These include households with special needs like those who are physically or intellectually impaired...Veterans who have served our country but now find themselves homeless or close to it...Victims of domestic violence who need a safe place to be while they rebuild their lives...Families living in dilapidated or overcrowded housing...Those who lack safe drinking water or indoor plumbing...Immigrants, farmworkers, and many more. Our housing needs in the Commonwealth are diverse. It will take all of our energy, creativity, talent and expanded resources to meet them.



At the other end of the age spectrum are retirees – Boomers are on the cusp of retirement and over the next decade they will place huge new demands on our local housing markets. Boomers will not follow the retirement patterns of their parents. They are looking to stay in the communities where they worked and built their social networks. They want to stay active, start a new business or work part time. They also want to stay in their own homes as long as possible or to be in a new type of “retirement” housing that is more connected

and not age segregated. These demands will force housing providers to look for new methods and new models to house this population.


Who needs affordable housing? Well, everyone needs housing that can fit within their budget. For people with higher incomes, this is less of a challenge. They have many more choices and can decide whether to be frugal and live in less expensive housing or be extravagant and live in a mansion or a high rise condo with a view of the city. People of moderate means, and especially households with lower incomes, don’t have those kinds of choices. For these people, housing is usually the single largest component of their household budget. This includes people that we interact with everyday in our community. Our child’s teacher, the police officer that protects us, the sanitation worker that picks up our trash, the server that brings our meal – all of these people are important to our daily lives and many of them face challenges in finding housing that fits within their budgets.

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Housing Needs of Those with Mental Illness Serious mental illness (SMI) means a severe and persistent mental or emotional disorder that seriously impairs the functioning of about 5.8% of all adults each year. Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, and Major Depressive Disorders are the three most common SMI diagnoses that have such severe and recurrent symptoms that they result in functional limitations in major life activities, such as basic living, employment, and making or keeping a personal social support system. Given these limitations and the social stigma surrounding them, individuals with SMI often need substantial services and supports to find and keep affordable, decent, stable housing. According to the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, many adults with SMI are severely impoverished, especially those who must rely on monthly income of less than $725 from Supplemental Security Income (SSI), meaning they can only be expected to contribute $217 toward monthly housing costs. This lack of adequate financial resources contributes to their housing instability and homelessness, exacerbating their need for expensive emergency room and inpatient hospital care, as well as avoidable costs to other public systems, such as criminal justice services. Permanent Supportive Housing, which ensures stable affordable housing with intensive supportive services, reduces and prevents homelessness among adults with SMI while significantly reducing high-cost emergency and institutional care. Meeting the housing needs of adults with SMI is not only the morally right thing to do; for many, it’s the economically smart thing to do.

Housing Needs for Seniors and People with Disabilities According to the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services, currently, people with disabilities represent the largest minority group in the nation. Nearly 1 in 5, or 56.7 million Ameri-

cans have a disability. Physical (mobility) and sensory (hearing and vision) disabilities are the most prevalent, and 50% of people over 65 have at least one disability. Most people with disabilities are underemployed and at a higher risk of poverty. Many live below the federal poverty level and receive some form of public assistance. This makes the need for affordable housing critical, but also underscores the importance of the need to increase our accessible housing stock. As Baby Boomers are approaching retirement, they will require flexible, affordable options in their communities. Aging Baby Boomers will demand greater options to facilitate “aging in place�. Over the next two decades, the total population of older Virginians will double to more than 1.8 million. Adults age 65 and older are now twice as likely (16.1%) to be living in poverty as they were a decade ago. Ironically, lack of affordable, accessible housing puts many seniors and people with disabilities at risk of relying on expensive institutional care. Figure 4 shows how nursing homes account for a large share of Medicaid spending. Affordable housing options could reduce these costs. Figure 4: Medicaid Spending Per Enrollee, 2011 20000









Source: Kaiser Family Foundation, February 2011

Virginia Housing Coalition

HOMELESSNESS What is the Extent of Homelessness in Virginia? The following information is from the 2013 Point in Time count of people experiencing homelessness in Virginia.

• 7,625 individuals in Virginia were homeless at the time of the count. This number represents 5,464 households, including 984 households with at least one child and 4,475 adult-only households. During the course of the year, it is estimated that 3 to 4 times this number experience homelessness. • 13.4% (1,022) of people experiencing homelessness are living on the streets. Single adult households are much more likely to be unsheltered than families (21% compared to 3%.) • People experiencing chronic homelessness represent 17.7% (1,356) of the total homeless population. A person meets the definition of chronic homelessness when that individual has a disabling condition and has been continuously homeless for a year or more or has had at least four episodes of homelessness in the past three years. • Veterans make up 9.4% (719 persons) of the total homeless population.

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Solutions to Homelessness The proven solution to end homelessness is housing first – which includes affordable housing programs such as rapid re-housing and permanent supportive housing. Housing first is an approach that says that people must first meet their basic needs – stable housing – in order to address other needs, such as health concerns and employment. People experiencing homelessness or housing crises need either short-term help until they get on their feet or long-term help through rental housing subsidies. Rapid Re-Housing (RRH) provides short term financial assistance and case management to return people experiencing homelessness back to housing of their own as soon as possible. Many service providers find that Rapid Re-Housing reduces the time clients spend in temporary shelter leading to positive outcomes in the areas of employment, education, and health. Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) is affordable housing, usually with rental housing subsidies, combined with supportive services provided by case management professionals. Research shows that permanent supportive housing effectively ends the homelessness of people with physical, mental health and/or substance abuse disabilities who have been on the streets for long periods of time. Virginia communities report a severe shortage of permanent supportive housing and have outlined plans to double the number of units targeted for the most vulnerable Virginians experiencing homelessness within the next 10 years.71 Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness


Figure 5: Housing Status of Homeless Households with At Least One Adult and One Child (VCEH 2013)

50% Emergency Shelter

47% Transitional Housing

3% Unsheltered

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HOUSING COST BURDEN Cost Burden: A household spending more than 30% of their income on housing costs. Severe Cost Burden: A household spending more than 50% of its income on housing. Affordable housing is generally defined as housing that does not cost more than 30% of a household’s gross income. Housing costs include rent or mortgage payments, utilities, and property taxes and insurance, if applicable. A household paying more than 30% of its income on housing costs is considered cost burdened, and a household spending more than 50% of its income on housing costs is considered severely cost burdened. In 2011, 34.5% of households in Virginia were housing cost burdened, which is a total of more than one million households. While cost burden can affect both renters and owners, renters are more likely to be cost burdened in Virginia. 82% of very low income renter households are cost burdened, and 36% are severely cost burdened. As

shown in Figure 6, lower income households are more likely to be cost burdened.81 In Virginia the median household income is $64,098. A family earning 60% of median, would need to pay over 42% of their income to afford to purchase a typical home. For a renter earning 60% of median, it’s slightly better, but they are still cost burdened at almost 35% of income to rent a typical apartment. For an extremely low income household earning $23,529, 30% of median income, the highest affordable rent is $588 a month. This is less than half of what it costs to rent a 2 bedroom apartment in Virginia. Over 53% of renters in Virginia are unable to afford the typical two bedroom apartment.92 HVA Sourcebook, 2014 NLIHC Out Of Reach, 2014

8 9




Source: NLIHC Out Of Reach 2014

Virginia Housing Coalition

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Figure 6: Housing Cost Burden by Income, Virginia 2011 (HVA Sourcebook)

Household Income

<$20,000 $20,000-$34,999 $35,000-$49,999 $50,000-$74,999 $75,000 or more

Percent of Owners Cost Burdened 69.8% 48.9% 41.9% 30.7% 11.4%

Percent of Renters Cost Burdened 88.5% 76.0% 52.1% 28.1% 6.4%

HOUSING WAGE Housing Wage: The hourly wage required to afford a two-bedroom apartment at Fair Market Rent Fair Market Rent (FMR): A measure produced annually by HUD to determine payment standards for federal housing programs. FMRs are gross rent estimates (including utilities) of a unit at the 40th percentile of all rental units. FMR is a widely accepted measure for rental housing affordability in an area. The Housing Wage is the wage required to afford a two-bedroom apartment at Fair Market Rent (FMR). In Virginia, the Fair Market Rent for a twobedroom apartment is $1,088. To afford this level of rent and utilities, without paying more than 30% of income on housing, a family must earn an annual salary of $43,536. Assuming a 40 hour work week, 52 weeks per year, this requires a housing wage of $20.93, which is the highest in the Southeast and 10th highest in the nation.101 But...the median income household income for Virginia renters is equivalent to a worker earning only $18.93 per hour, an annual income of $39,382. At this income level, that household could only afford rent of $985 per month- more than $100 less than the Fair Market Rent. The minimum wage in Virginia is $7.25 an hour. This is just over one third of the Housing Wage in Virginia. A minimum wage earner can only afford a rent of $377 a month. A worker earning minimum wage in Virginia needs to work 115 hours per week. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 2.9 full time jobs to afford a two-bedroom apartment at FMR.10 NLIHC Out Of Reach, 2014




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RENTAL HOUSING Renter Cost Burden and Wages Renters in Virginia, especially low-income Virginians, face many challenges and barriers to finding affordable rental housing. As incomes decrease, the percentage of cost burdened and extremely cost burdened renters increase. Similarly, Figure 8 shows that as incomes decrease, the supply of affordable and available units in the state decreases. For the 225,995 extremely low-income renters in Virginia, there are only 34 units available for every 100 households, leaving a gap of 148,178 affordable units.11 The chart below shows how Virginians working full time in a number of fields including healthcare, education, and service industries fall short of Virginia’s Housing Wage of $20.93 an hour.122

Rental Housing Supply Since the housing crash in 2008, affordable rental housing supply has become a challenge in many areas. Increasing demand for apartments is driving up rents. Families facing foreclosure have enNational Low Income Housing Coalition, 2014 State Housing Profile 12 NLIHC, 2014 Out Of Reach 11

tered the rental market and younger populations are waiting longer to buy a home due to lagging incomes, stricter underwriting guidelines, and changing preferences. During this same period, cuts in federal funding for housing programs such as HOME, Community Development Block Grants, Housing Choice Vouchers, Public Housing, and the Low Income Housing Tax Credit have slowed the production and maintenance of affordable housing stocks. This lack of supply along with an increase in demand has driven up rents at a rate faster than incomes have risen. Median gross rent in Virginia has grown continuously over the last five years from $938 in 2008 to $1,116 in 2013 (16% growth) while median family income has only grown 9% over the same period.133 The supply of affordable rental housing, especially in areas of high economic opportunity and high incomes, can also be limited by local perceptions about affordable housing and restrictive zoning laws. In some Virginia communities, “Not In My Back Yard” (NIMBY) attitudes, based on false perceptions of affordable housing, sometimes leads to strong enough opposition that prevents development of new affordable housing. HVA Sourcebook, Median Gross Rents 2008-2013


Figure 7: Hourly Wage for Occupations in Virginia (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2013) Bus Drivers


Construction Laborers

$13.11 $10.89

Cooks, Restaurant


Groundskeeping Workers Hairdressers & Cosmetologists

$13.47 $14.88

Library Technicians $9.38

Maids & Housekeeping Cleaners Painters & Maintenance

$16.55 $8.86

Personal Care Aides


Security Guards


Virginia Housing Wage






Virginia Housing Coalition Additionally, local zoning laws that prevent high density development or require minimum lot and building sizes can effectively prohibit the development of affordable multifamily projects or price out affordable single family homes.

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Figure 8: Affordable & Available Rental Units

Fair Housing Barriers for Homeowners and Renters Affordability is not the only obstacle renters confront in the state. Housing discrimination is a problem in Virginia. The Federal Fair Housing Act of 1968 prohibits housing discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, and familial status and Virginia’s Fair Housing Law additionally outlaws discrimination based on “elderliness.”14,154However, numerous studies and lawsuits continue to find widespread racial discrimination in how homes and neighborhoods are marketed and who they are offered to in certain areas.165This type of discrimination makes it harder for African American and Hispanic renters to find safe, decent housing in areas of higher opportunity where they will have access to better jobs, better education, better healthcare and lower transportation costs. Additionally, lawful source of income and sexual orientation are not protected classes in Virginia, so it is legal to deny housing to voucher holders seeking to relocate to a better neighborhood, and to members of the LGBT community.176A 2011 HUD evaluation found that in states where lawful source of income was protected by law, voucher utilization increased by 4% to 11% and more families were able to use their vouchers to move to lower poverty neighborhoods.187

HUD, Fair Housing-It’s Your Right Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation, Virginia Fair Housing 16 Turner, Housing Discrimination 17 VHC, HOME 2014 Housing Policy Agenda 18 Freeman, L, Voucher Utilization

0-50% AMI


The LOWER the income threshold,

the GREATER the shortage of AFFORDABLE and AVAILABLE rental units per 100 households

0-30% AMI


14 15

Source: NLIHC, 2014 Virginia Housing Fact Sheet

20 | Home Matters for Virginia 2014

HOMEOWNERSHIP It is impossible to talk about homeownership and the housing market in Virginia without looking at the effects of the housing market crash of 2008. The crash caused nearly 4 million foreclosures nationwide19,8a precipitous drop in housing prices and of home equity, a rise in unemployment and a recession of the US economy. This crisis is still being felt by many Virginians and the reactions to it are reshaping the market in ways that have implications for future home buyers in the Commonwealth. During the crisis, many homeowners found themselves with negative housing equity, or â&#x20AC;&#x153;underwater,â&#x20AC;? meaning that due to the drop in housing prices, they owed more on their mortgage than Rohe, Reexamining the Social Benefits of Homeownership...


their home was worth. At the peak of the crash, a quarter of mortgaged homes nationwide were underwater.19 In Virginia, the rate of underwater mortgages continues to drop but still remains at 12.1%,209a figure significantly higher than the historical baseline. This reality continues to drain wealth from Virginians. Similarly, foreclosure rates have been decreasing from their peak levels during the crisis, but the total foreclosure rate in Virginia remains at 0.7% compared to a 0.2% precrisis 2006 baseline. Homes at risk for foreclosure remain higher than pre-crash levels as well. The 90+ day serious delinquency rate remains at 2% percent compared to a 0.8% percent pre-crisis 2006 baseline.2110 Virginia Foreclosure Task Force, VA Housing Market and Foreclosure Status 2013 21 Feik, Housing Market and Mortgage Performance in VA 20

Figure 9: Virginia Median Home Sales Price, 2008-2013 (HVA Sourcebook)















Median Sales Price (Existing & New)







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Communities of color were disproportionately im- Figure 11: Percent of Millennials That Own a Home, 2014 pacted by the housing crash. The subprime loan, THE PERCENT OF MILLENNIALS the main driver of the market crash, was more THAT OWN A HOME aggressively marketed in low-income minority communities where credit for mortgages was otherwise scarce. Many of these loans were made 36.2% irresponsibly and without proper purchaser education, and many low-income homebuyers quickly found themselves unable to make mortgage payments. Out of loans that were originated between 2005 and 2009 and foreclosed upon between 2007 and 2009, African Americans and Latinos were 70% more likely to be foreclosed upon than nonHispanic whites. African Americans and Latinos lost significantly more wealth during the crisis and experienced much higher rates of unemployment than non-Hispanic whites.2211

Homeownership Rate (Percent)

Figure 10: Homeownership Rates in VA, 1995-2012 HOMEOWNERSHIP HAS












Source: Federal Reserve Bank, St Louis

In the wake of the crisis, there are some indications that public attitudes may have swayed away from a preference for homeownership over renting. Preliminary research does suggest, however, that the public continues to view buying a home as a sound desirable financial investment.1912The last few years have seen housing price declines come to an end (see Figure 9). However, since the crisis, availability of credit for mortgage loans has tightened, making it harder for households to qualify. Between 2001 and 2012, loan originations in Virginia decreased by 44.4%, the 13th Carr, State of Housing in Black America. Goodman, The Impact of Credit Availability on Mortgage Volume.

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Source: US News, April 20, 2014

largest decrease in the country. And again, these decreases were felt disproportionately by minority communities.23 Another factor that has significantly impacted prices and availability in the housing market is the rise in all cash purchases by institutional investors. Nationwide, all-cash purchases went from 17.8% of the market in 2001 to 39.5% in 2012.23 Cash buyers were able to trump offers from traditional owner/occupant buyers. The homeownership recovery in Virginia has been uneven. While markets in Northern Virginia and other growth areas are stronger than at any other point in the last seven years, many regions of the state still languish with slow home sales and sluggish prices. New Rules Make it Harder to Buy a Home New Federal regulations have been implemented to protect against the type of irresponsible, sub-prime loans that led, in part, to the housing crash of 2008. The unfortunate side effect is that many deserving Virginia families will now have a much harder time qualifying for a loan. The new requirements include: • Higher credit scores • Higher down payment • More extensive documentation & verification • New appraisal standards • Maximum debt ratio rules

22 | Home Matters for Virginia 2014

VIRGINIA’S HOUSING TRUST FUND Housing Trust Funds are flexible sources of funding to be used for the creation and preservation of affordable housing at the national, state and local level. Although Housing Trust Funds typically have built in programmatic elements that set parameters on the types of projects that can receive funding, the primary value of these funds is in their adaptability to meet the most critical current local housing needs whether it be building workforce housing, permanent supportive housing, or preserving extremely low income rental housing. Currently, 47 states, the District of Columbia, and over 600 counties and cities have housing trust funds that receive nearly $1 billion annually nationwide.241

Administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, the initial $8 million allocated to the fund opened for application in Spring 2013 in four pools:

The idea of a state Housing Trust Fund (HTF) first came to Virginia in 1990 in the form of the Virginia Housing Partnership Fund. This fund remained active through the mid-90’s, receiving almost $100 million in funding which was used for a variety of housing types and programs. The Housing Partnership Fund ceased operations in the mid 1990s, in part, because it failed to receive a dedicated source of funding. Virginia’s current state Housing Trust Fund was created in 2012 when the state began receiving funds from the National Mortgage Settlement.

• Homeless Reduction Grant Program - Providing competitive grants to help reduce homelessness to be used for rental assistance, support services, or pre-development for supportive housing.

Figure 12: 2013 Virginia Housing Trust Fund Allocation $500,000 Foreclosure Counseling

• Competitive Loan Pool - Providing low-interest loans to meet the financing needs of new construction or rehab affordable housing projects directed towards key state housing policies like housing veterans and reducing homelessness • Foreclosure Rehab Loans (Trust Stabilization Program) - Working with locally-based organizations to transform previously foreclosed homes into community assets.

• Foreclosure Counseling Grants - Providing grants to organizations working with those who are experiencing or have experienced foreclosure. The first round of Housing Trust Fund allocations leveraged almost $6.50 for every dollar invested in the competitive loan pool and will create or rehabilitate 297 units. The homeless reduction grants will serve at least 346 individuals and households with rental assistance and/or support services.25 The foreclosure rehab funds are performance based and are allocated to experienced non-profits working in foreclosure rehab across the state.

$1 Million Homeless Reduction Grants

Figure 13: Housing Trust Fund Leveraged Funds

$1 Million Foreclosure Rehab

Housing Trust Fund $5.5 Million Competitive Loan Pool

Other Sources $1




Center for Community Change


$1 $1




VHC, Housing Trust Fund Report


$1 $1 $1

$1 $1

$1 $1 $1


$1 $1 $1



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HOUSING TRUST FUND SUCCESS STORY Many of the projects awarded funding in 2013 would not have been able to move forward without the gap financing provided by the Virginia Housing Trust Fund in combination with other financing mechanisms such as the Low Income Housing Tax Credit. Even with a relatively modest allocation of $8 million, this fund is already benefitting hundreds of Virginians and having a ripple effect throughout Virginiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s economy.

As encouraging as the revival of the Housing Trust Fund is, the future of the fund is uncertain. Without a dedicated source of revenue, the HTF could face a similar fate to the Housing Partnership Fund of the 90â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s. Fortunately, there is a statewide group of advocates led by the Virginia Housing Coalition that have rallied around preserving the Trust Fund and are working closely with legislators to secure a dedicated source of funding.

Project Summary: Funding will cover construction costs for Crescent Square, a new 80-unit development that will be a mixed-income community with a blend of units for homeless and low-income clients in the Hampton Roads area. Thirty-two units will be reserved for homeless clients from Virginia Beach. Ten units will be reserved for homeless individuals from Norfolk. The remaining units will be available to individuals earning 50% or less of the area median income. Other funding sources to include: Low Income Housing Tax Credits; a VHDA SPARC loan; a DHCD HOME loan; local HOME funds from the City of Virginia Beach and the City of Norfolk; Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta AHP funds; and local foundations.

Crescent Square Organization Name Project Location Funding Use(s) Total HTF Amount Allocated Total Development Cost Leveraged Funds from Other Sources

Virginia Supportive Housing Virginia Beach, VA Rental New Construction $750,000 $10,426,100 $9,670,100

Economic Impact Calculation Estimated Construction Cost Short Term Impacts Estimated Jobs 119.09 Supported Estimated Fiscal $233,278.79 Revenues Estimated Local $6,923,287 Economic Growth

Source: HVA Sourcebook

$6,311,685 Long Term Impacts Estimated Jobs 12.71 Supported Estimated Annual $126,603.96 Property Taxes Estimated Local $1,113,421 Economic Growth

24 | Home Matters for Virginia 2014



Create a Housing Trust Fund – the flexible loan and grant “gap” funds that most housing projects need. Make sure that your Trust Fund has a dedicated source of revenue so that you can focus on producing housing and not battling to keep the funding every year. There are over 600 local housing trust funds in the US. Make your community one of them.

Make sure that the Comprehensive Plan calls for an adequate supply of affordable housing –


Use publicly owned land for affordable housing. Your local govern-

ment may own land that it’s not using and has no plans to use. Take advantage of this by calling for some of that land to be made available for housing that can serve the workforce in your town or city. Put that land into an Affordable Housing Land Trust to make sure that it always supports affordable housing.

Make sure that your community is “Age Wave Ready”. Until the Millennials

came along, Baby Boomers were the largest age group in the US. Now Boomers are reaching retirement age and also contemplating a change in their living arrangements. Most Boomers want to stay in their homes and in their neighborhoods. Programs that will allow “aging in place” as well as new styles of “retirement” living will be important housing strategies of the next decade.



both rental and owner. Your community should have enough land that is zoned for apartments and for greater density. Higher density equals greater affordability.


GO GREEN. “Green” housing and “green” communities are more affordable

– have lower utility costs, better public transportation, less maintenance, more walkability. These are all features that both the Boomers and the Millennials are seeking. Green communities of the future will out compete their more traditional counterparts in attracting residents.

6 8

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Fight blighted and vacant properties in your community. Have a

strategy to target owners who are not good stewards of their property. Well designed and well funded code enforcement prevents deteriorated property from affecting the values of neighboring homes and discouraging new residents from moving into the community. This means loss of equity and wealth in neighborhoods and declining property tax revenues.

Build housing near jobs. Zone for mixed use

communities where jobs and housing can exist within the same neighborhood. If workers can live near where they work, it not only reduces traffic congestion and their cost of commuting, it improves the quality of life for them and their families. Make sure that you have an adequate mix of housing types and prices/rents so that the people who work in your community can also live there.


Invest in Homeownership Counseling and Homebuyer Readiness. Create a “homeownership center” in your community that is dedicated to getting families ready to become homeowners and long-term residents. With rising interest rates and tougher underwriting standards, homeownership is a much greater challenge for today’s young families than it was 20 years ago. Make the commitment to create homeownership opportunity.

Take on the challenge of ending homelessness in your town.


Combine affordable housing with the services that many chronically homeless individuals need (mental health, substance abuse, job training). Build a supportive housing project that can provide a permanent solution to homelessness.


Understand the connection between your housing and your schools. Kids who live in stable housing



situations do better in school. Schools that are located in areas where housing is well cared for and affordable to a range of families do much better than those that are located in pockets of poverty and deterioration. Create great neighborhoods and great schools at the same time. STOP

These are our Top Ten -- Make your own list – share it with us at and we’ll help you promote it in your community.

26 | Home Matters for Virginia 2014

CONCLUSION Does Affordable Housing Matter? For Virginia? For our communities from Big Stone Gap to Fairfax County to Richmond, South Hill and Virginia Beach? You bet it does. Affordable housing is not only the fundamental building block for our families – where Virginia’s children grow up – it is also the cornerstone of our communities. It is what makes them strong, diverse, vibrant and healthy. But affordable housing is even more than that. It’s a critical part of our state’s economy – contributing jobs, stimulus to the local economy, and increased tax base. Housing is directly connected to transportation and infrastructure – two of our our state’s biggest challenges. Housing plays a role in health and access to healthcare. Housing location and quality directly influences our schools and how students succeed.

In short, housing connects to everything that we care about and plays a critical role in the future of our families and the Commonwealth. Talk to your friends, neighbors and elected officials. Let’s get housing into the conversation when we talk about the future and let’s make sure that Virginia is for everyone.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Principal Authors: Rachel Bates, Zachary Miller, Robert Adams, Alice Tousignant Design and Graphics: Nora Bland Editing: Dave Norris Special thanks to: Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services All rights reserved. No part of this report may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the permission of the Virginia Housing Coalition.

Virginia Housing Coalition

SOURCES CITED: 1. Rush, Brittany. The Hastings Center. Medicaid, Where the Money Goes, Last accessed 6/10/14. 2. National Low Income Housing Coalition. Out Of Reach 2014: Virginia, Last accessed 6/10/14 3. Cohen, Rebecca. Center for Housing Policy, 2011. The Impacts of Affordable Housing on Health: A Research Summary. Last accessed 6/4/14. 4. Heather Schwartz, Housing Policy is School Policy: Economically Integrative Housing Promotes Academic Success in Montgomery County, Maryland. The Century Foundation, 2010.

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15. Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation. Virginia Fair Housing Office website. http://www.dpor.virginia. gov/FairHousing/#Protected_Classes. Last accessed 6/3/14. 16. Turner, M.A., Santos, R., Levy, D.K., Wissoker, D., Aranda, C., Pitingolo, R., Urban Institute, 2013. Housing Discrimination Against Racial and Ethnic Minorities 2012. HUD. http://www. Last accessed 6/3/14. 17. Virginia Housing Coalition, HOME. 2014. 2014 Housing Policy Agenda. http://thevirginiahousingcoalition.files. Last accessed on 6/3/14. 18. Freeman, L. 2011. The Impact of Source of Income Laws on Voucher Utilization and Locational Outcomes. HUD. http:// Last accessed 6/3/14.

5. Center for Neighborhood Technology. 2014. Housing and Transportation Affordability Index. Last accessed 6/4/14.

19. Rohe, W.M., Boshamer, C.C., Lindblad, M. 2013. Reexamining the Social Benefits of Homeownership after the Housing Crisis. hbtl-04.pdf. Last accessed 6/3/14.

6. Housing Virginia Sourcebook. 2014. Housing and Commuting Affordability Index (at Median Household Income). http:// Last accessed 6/4/14.

20. Virginia Foreclosure Task Force. 2013. Virginia Housing Market and Foreclosure Status. VHDA. Last accessed 6/3/14.

7. Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness

21. Feik, J., Hearl, L., Mengedoth, J. 2013. Housing Market and Mortgage Performance in Virginia: 4th Quarter, 2013. Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. https://www.richmondfed. org/community_development/resource_centers/foreclosure/ research_and_pubs/mortgage_performance_summaries/va/ pdf/mortgage_performance_va_20134q.pdf. Last accessed 6/3/14.

8. Housing Virginia Sourcebook. 2014. Cost Burden: Households Paying More than 30% for Housing. Last accessed 6/4/14. 9. National Low Income Housing Coalition. 2014. Out of Reach 2014: Virginia. Last accessed 6/4/14 10. Ibid 11. National Low Income Housing Coalition. 2014. 2014 State Housing Profile. Last accessed 6/3/14. 12. National Low Income Housing Coalition. 2014. Out of Reach 2014: Virginia. Last accessed 6/3/14. 13. Housing Virginia. Sourcebook - Median gross rents 2008-2013, Median Family Income 2008-2012, http://dev. Last accessed 6/3/14. 14. HUD. Fair Housing-Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Your Right. hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp/ FHLaws/yourrights. Last accessed 6/3/14.

22. Carr, J.H., Anaker, K.B., Hernandez, I. 2013. State of Housing in Black America. National Association of Real Estate Brokers and SHIBA Advisory Board. docs/state_of_housing_in_black_america?workerAddress= Last accessed 6/3/14. 23. Goodman, L., Zhu, J., George. T. 2014. Where Have All the Loans Gone? The Impact of Credit Availability on Mortgage Volume. Urban Institute. UploadedPDF/413052-Where-Have-All-the-Loans-Gone.pdf. Last accessed 6/3/14. 24. Center for Community Change. What Are Housing Trust Funds?

25. Virginia Housing Coalition. Updated 2014. 2013 Virginia Housing Trust Fund Report on Project Awards and Impacts. https://thevirginiahousingcoalition.files.wordpress. com/2014/06/2013-vhtf-allocation-info-packet-6-14.pdf. Last accessed 6/3/14.

Virginia Housing Coalition is a statewide alliance dedicated to expanding affordable housing options in Virginia by influencing and developing public policy, recognizing exemplary achievement, and providing education, training and services that will make its members more effective in attaining their goals.

205 N. Robinson Street Richmond, Virginia 23220

Profile for Virginia Housing Coalition

Home Matters for Virginia  

Home Matters for Virginia