As the 2013 Virginia General Assembly comes close to passing a significant new transportation package, there are critical questions that must be answered if all Virginians will be paying more taxes for transportation.
Will new transportation developments improve access that low and moderate income Virginians have to areas of high employment growth? Over the past few decades, the spatial mismatch between job creation in the suburbs and low‐income workers in the inner city has become more severe. This imbalance between jobs and housing deprives citizens living in areas where housing is affordable from accessing employment opportunities in high job‐growth areas. New transportation developments must focus on increasing access low income Virginians have to areas of high employment growth. This means not only roads, but also options such as mass transit.
For example, only 53% of the region’s jobs are served by the Greater Richmond Transit Corporation. Very few bus routes even extend into the surrounding counties. Those that do are primarily express lanes serving people coming into the city for jobs, not people going out of the city for jobs. This data was published in a report by HOME in December 2012 entitled Where You Live Makes All The Difference: An Opportunity Map of the Richmond Region.
Housing discrimination is not a thing of the past. It can have a devastating impact on one’s life. Housing discrimination means a person is denied living near things important to them, such as good schools, jobs and transportation options.
The U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development announced a fair housing settlement with a property management company in Va Beach. I’ve bolded some sections for emphasis:
a Hispanic woman filed a complaint alleging that Virginia Realty, a property management company that manages over 500 rental units throughout Virginia Beach and Norfolk, refused to provide her a rental application because she could not speak English well and refused the translation assistance of the bilingual person she brought with her.
In the course of the investigation, HUD discovered that Virginia Realty had a written policy expressly requiring all prospective tenants to be able to communicate with management staff in English without assistance from others, and to complete rental applications only while they were in the management office.
Problem: Virginia’s transportation system is outdated and inhibits economic growth.
Solution: Connect transportation to housing, education and job growth.
Understanding and improving the connections among jobs, transportation, and affordable housing needs to be a top priority for decision makers and citizens across the commonwealth. Development in the suburbs has been largely auto‐centric. As such, there is now more demand placed on Virginia’s roadways than ever before as sprawl development has forced people to drive farther to get to work, school, and other activities.
Over the past few decades, the spatial mismatch between job creation in the suburbs and low‐income workers in the inner city has become more severe. This imbalance between jobs and housing deprives citizens living in areas where housing is affordable from accessing employment opportunities in high job‐growth areas. Often, public transit options are non‐existent or severely limited in suburban employment centers. Virginia should move away from subsidizing sprawl and towards promoting mixed income, mixed‐use developments. We should eliminate regulatory barriers to more compact development with a mixture of residential and commercial uses and housing with a mixture of styles, sizes, and prices. We should promote regional planning, incentives to guide new development to designated growth areas, and developments which serve a range of incomes. Virginia should provide greater transportation options by reorienting state and local expenditures to advance alternatives to driving.
This article was originally featured in a weekly newsletter of the Virginia Housing Coalition.
What is it? During the last session of the Virginia General Assembly (2012), the Virginia Housing Trust Fund was created, and an initial allocation of $7 million was made to the fund. The HTF will become operational during the 2nd year of the biennium – beginning July 1, 2013. The funding for the HTF came from a one-time payment that Virginia received as a part of the National Mortgage Settlement Agreement. No long-term funding source has yet been identified for the HTF.
How can the funds be used? The HTF will be administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development and the Virginia Housing Development Authority. The budget bill provided a basic description of how the funds are to be used. The funds are divided into two classes – grants and flexible loans. Up to 20 percent of the funds may be used for grants – with a special focus on reducing homelessness, including foreclosure and mortgage counseling. The rest of the funds are designated for loans that will need to be repaid to the fund. These loans will be low interest and can be designed to be as flexible as possible – for example, deferred payment or interest only would be possible under the program.
Where you live directly influences your ability to access the opportunity cycle
By 2040 the population of the United States will be predominantly people of color. The evidence put forth in Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia’s new report Where You Live Makes All the Difference: An Opportunity Map of the Richmond Region suggests that if our economic development and housing policies continue to isolate and exploit this population, the future vitality of the region is in trouble.
The Richmond region has long suffered from the repercussions of its past. Beginning in the 1930s, federal housing policy promoted segregation through incentivizing the growth of white, middle class suburban areas while starving the inner city of credit. The result has been intergenerational, concentrated poverty in some of the oldest neighborhoods of the region, while increasingly remote neighborhoods, available only to those with the necessary means, continue to blossom and flourish. Only by understanding the mechanisms that have woven the fabric of opportunity throughout the Richmond region will we be able to move forward.
Building Capacity to Fight Foreclosures in Northern Virginia
Join the Capital Area Foreclosure Network (CAFN) and other stakeholders for a discussion of the scope of Northern Virginia’s foreclosure problem, existing housing counseling and outreach efforts, particularly in the area’s hotspots (including Fairfax and Prince William counties), and the resources needed to effectively combat the problem.
Guest speakers include representatives from:
- Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond
- U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (Office of Housing Counseling)
- Virginia Association of Housing Counselors
- Virginia Cooperative Extension
- Virginia Housing and Development Authority
The session will also include an open discussion on Northern Virginia’s counseling needs versus capacity.
- DATE | December 6th, 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM
- LOCATION | Reston Interfaith, 11150 Sunset Hills Road, Reston, VA
- RSVP | email@example.com
The Northern Virginia Affordable Housing Alliance is a broad based regional organization dedicated to the creation of successful communities through affordable housing education and advocacy.
Over 35% VA households are over burdened by the cost of housing. Granby High School teacher Cabrillya Crumm is seeing that poverty is forcing her students to drop out of High School to work full time and help cover family expenses.
The school performance of children living in poverty is affected by so much by factors outside the classroom. Cabrillya speaks about trying to support her students but feeling like she needs a lot of help counseling students.