Virginia Advocates Seek to Sustain the Virginia Housing Trust Fund
The Virginia Housing Coalition and the Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness are pushing Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell to support the state housing trust fund by sustaining its current funding level of $8 million in the state’s next budget. Advocates believe it is critical to continue building on the success in creating and funding the Housing Trust Fund over the past two years, by securing the Governor’s commitment.
The Virginia legislature codified the Housing Trust Fund by placing it into state code (through passage of HB2005 which was signed by Governor McDonnell in April 2013) and committed $7 million from NMS funds. The Fund is administered by the Department of Housing and Community Development. In 2013, the legislature appropriated an additional $1 million in funds from the “robo-signing” foreclosure settlement agreement and another $1 million was allocated for rapid re-housing and permanent supportive housing. Establishment of this fund was a major victory for the Virginia Housing Coalition and the Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness.
The original budget bill (Budget Bill 109, Section G) specified that 80% of the funds are to be used for low-interest loans to provide affordable rental housing; down payment and closing cost assistance for homebuyers; and loans to reduce the cost of homeownership and rental housing. In addition, up to 20% of the funds are to be targeted to reduce homelessness by providing temporary rental assistance, housing stabilization services, mortgage foreclosure counseling, and pre-development assistance for permanent support housing and other long term housing options for the homeless. Eligible applicants include localities, housing authorities, region or statewide housing assistance organizations, and nonprofit development organizations.
The fund was broken into four grant and loan pools:
(1) Competitive Loan Pool: provides low-interest loans to meet the financing needs of housing projects directed towards key state housing policies.
(2) Foreclosure Rehab Loans (Trust Stabilization Program): The TSP works with locally-based organizations to transform previously foreclosed homes into community assets.
(3) Homeless Reduction Grant Program: competitive grants to help reduce homelessness.
(4) Foreclosure Counseling Grants: grants to organizations working with those who are experiencing or have experienced foreclosure.
There was a strong response from applicants in each category. DHCD scored the applications and all $8 million was awarded to the first round of applications. Nine awards were made through the Competitive Loan Pool averaging $750,000 per award. Five awards were made through the Foreclosure Rehab program. Another ten awards, averaging $100,000, were made through the Homeless Reduction Grant program; and 26 awards were made through Foreclosure Counseling grants. As the attached chart illustrated, the demand for funds far exceeded what was available, with requests exceeding $20 million in funding.
Bob Adams of the Virginia Housing Coalition observes: “The high level of demand that we’ve seen to first round of HTF funding was evidence that these loans and grants are critical pieces in moving a wide range of housing projects forward across the state. The Governor’s priorities around homelessness, veterans and persons with disabilities have been met in these first allocations and we expect the Governor to reflect his continued support as he finalizes the next biennial budget for Virginia. “
The Virginia Housing Coalition and the Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness have partnered this fall in sponsoring a series of housing policy meetings throughout the state to build advocacy and inform participants on state and federal policies impacting affordable housing and homelessness.
Housing Virginia’s Housing StoryWorks initiative will highlight stories that demonstrate how affordable housing makes a difference throughout Virginia, its communities and families. Advocates and residents are encouraged to share their stories by taping a 3-5 minute video segment while at the Governor’s Housing Conference, November 20-22, in Norfolk, Virginia.
Contact: Bob Adams, Virginia Housing Coalition, 205 N. Robinson Street, Richmond, VA 23220 (804-915-6729) thevirginiahousingcoalition.org