Open letter on housing to VA’s gubernatorial candidates

The Virginia Housing Coalition has released this open letter to the candidates running for Governor of Virginia. The election will take place on Tuesday November 5th.

Housing is a cornerstone for our families and our communities in Virginia. For 30 years, the Virginia Housing Coalition has advocated that every family and every individual in the Commonwealth should have an affordable and decent place to call home.  As we emerge from the worst housing recession in our nation’s history, there are many reasons to focus on the housing status of our citizens here in Virginia.

  • More than a million Virginia households are housing cost burdened – meaning, they pay more for housing than they can afford.
  • Over 100,000 families lost their homes to foreclosure and this epidemic is still affecting our people and our neighborhoods.  Many areas of the state still lag behind our stronger markets.
  • The homeownership rate in the state and the nation are continuing to decline. We need to make sure that rental housing is available to meet this growing demand,  but we also need to rebuild the opportunity for young families to buy a home and begin to build equity.  Homeownership has long been the principle way that lower and middle class households increase wealth.
  • The cost of rental housing has outpaced the growth of renter incomes over the past decade.  In 2013, it would take a wage of $20.72 per hour to afford Virginia’s  2BR Fair Market Rent ($1,078), but the average renter wage in Virginia is only $15.79.
  • Finally, while we have begun to make progress in reducing homelessness, this progress is threatened by cuts to federal rental assistance funding.

Good housing policy does more than just provide adequate shelter to Virginians.  Housing is an important element of our state’s economy.  Housing construction generates jobs and economic spinoff benefits the surrounding community. For example, the construction of 100 single family homes in Fairfax County supports 222 short term jobs and 20 long term jobs, bringing the total economic impact to over $16.5 million. Usually, housing leads us out of a recession.  That has not been the case with the Great Recession. Our homebuilding industry has been in a depression for the past five years and that needs to change in order for economic growth to accelerate in our state.

Housing is integrally connected to many of the important issues that you will face as Governor.  Housing density, location and development patterns fuel our transportation needs and expenditures.  Good, stable housing correlates with improved educational achievement in young children, as well as providing mental and physical health benefits, especially to our older citizens.

As Governor, we urge you to place a priority on the development of a detailed housing policy and plan in the first year of your term. We also ask you to commit to continue funding for the Virginia Housing Trust Fund – an effort that has already begun to yield benefits to families across the state. The first round of Housing Trust Fund projects will be getting underway by the end of the year and will serve a broad range of housing needs in the state, including veterans, persons with disabilities and individuals experiencing homelessness.

On behalf of our membership across the state, we look forward to working with you to expand and improve housing opportunities for all Virginians in the next four years.

Sincerely,

Bob Newman, President

Banks maintaining properties differently in white vs black neighborhoods

An interview with Shanti Abedin from the National Fair Housing Alliance examining how Banks are maintaining the homes they own in different neighborhoods.

Virginia Legislature to Receive $3.5 Million from “Robo-Signing” Settlement

Virginia is getting more money from a national settlement stemming from the foreclosure crisis. The Virginia General Assembly will be getting $3.5 million from a settlement over “robo-signing” and “surrogate signing” of mortgage loan default servicing (aka foreclosures).  This money is supposed to be used for housing, but the Virginia General Assembly now gets to decide where and how to spend this money.

Robo-signing was a significant problem in Virginia that raised serious questions about the sanctity of property rights in the Commonwealth. It was such a serious concern, that a community group in Northern Virginia organized citizen volunteers to investigate this problem in Prince William County.

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Many Richmond Area Residents are Isolated in Areas with Very Little Opportunity for Them to Succeed

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.

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Fighting Foreclosures in Northern Virginia

Building Capacity to Fight Foreclosures in Northern Virginia

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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
  • VOICE

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 | info@capitalareaforeclosurenetwork.org

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.

Wells Fargo wasn’t the only one

In its latest victory for consumers affected by predatory lending, The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) held Wells Fargo Bank accountable for engaging in discriminatory lending against African-American and Hispanic borrowers. Wells Fargo gave bad loan products to African-American and Hispanic borrowers even though they were qualified for quality, prime loans. The financial damage from this subprime lending will last for a long time. Unfortunately Wells Fargo wasn’t the only one. This form of biased and predatory lending against minority borrowers was widespread and many other major financial institutions have settled fair lending claims over the past year. Taken together, these practices contributed to the housing crash by spreading unsustainable subprime mortgages and destroying a generation of wealth in minority communities.

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Listening Sessions on housing this summer

The Virginia Housing Coalition and the Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness in partnership with the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development are holding six regional information and input sessions this summer. The meetings are open to anyone with an interest in affordable housing and homelessness who wants to have a say in the future housing policies in the state.

The sessions will include:

  • A summary of the outcomes of housing and community development legislation during the 2012 General Assembly session.
  • An update on the status of the State Housing Policy Framework and the State Homelessness Plan.
  • A discussion and prioritization of housing issues for the 2013 General Assembly session (with special focus on issues of regional significance).
  • Input into the design of the newly created Virginia Housing Trust Fund. The Department of Housing and Community Development must submit a program plan to the Senate Finance and House Appropriations Committees by November of this year.

The schedule for these forums is:

Charlottesville

Date:               July 31, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Partner:           Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission
Location:         Water Street Center – 407 E. Water Street Charlottesville, VA 22902
Register for this session here

Roanoke

Date:               August 2, 10:30 am – 12:30 pm
Partner:           Roanoke Regional Housing Network
Location:         Boardroom Office – 502 Campbell Ave, SW Roanoke, VA 24016
Register for this session here

Northern Virginia

Date:               August 8, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Partner:           Northern Virginia Affordable Housing Alliance
Location:        Northern Virginia Community College – Annandale Campus
Ernst Cultural Center  – 8333 Little River Turnpike Annandale, Virginia 22003
Register for this session here

Richmond

Date:               August 15, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Partner:           Richmond Community Development Alliance
Location:         Virginia Housing Development Authority – Henrico room 1
4224 Cox Road Glen Allen, VA 23060
Register for this session here  

Fredericksburg

Date:               August 21, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Partner:           Central Virginia Housing Coalition
Location:        Central Virginia Housing Coalition
208 Hudgins Road Fredericksburg, VA 22408
Register for this session here

 

Please register for these important input and discussion forums by following the link for the forum you wish to attend. All events are free and open to the public but registration is required and appreciated.  If you have any questions about this event or registration please email VAHousingCoalition@gmail.com