by Madison Hirneisen
More than two dozen cities and counties across Virginia are slated to receive a portion of nearly $100 million in federal funding for affordable housing and homelessness, U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, D-VA, announced this week.
Localities across the Commonwealth are expected to receive a portion of more than $98.3 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The majority of the funding – $57.5 million – comes from HUD’s Community Development Block Grant program, which provides funding to support infrastructure development, housing construction, public facility upgrades and homeowner assistance. The other grant funding will allow localities to rehabilitate affordable housing, fund emergency shelters, provide services to homeless individuals and provide housing assistance to low income individuals living with HIV/AIDS.
Of the counties and cities set to receive portions of the federal funding, Fairfax County is slated to receive over $8.5 million, Loudoun County will receive $3.8 million, Richmond will receive $6.3 million and Virginia Beach is set to receive $6.4 million, according to a news release.
“All Virginians should have a safe place to live,” Warner and Kaine said in a joint statement Wednesday. “We’re glad this funding will support community development projects, improve affordable housing options, and help more Virginians find a home.”
The funding comes as Virginia grapples with a shortage of roughly 200,000 affordable rental units for extremely and very low income households, according to a 2021 report from the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission. While every region of the state is seeing a shortage of affordable rental units, the greatest shortage is centered in Northern Virginia, where 80,000 units are needed, according to the commission’s report.
Additionally, the report found 29% of Virginia households – roughly 905,000 – were considered housing cost burdened in 2019, meaning they spent more than 30% of their income on housing expenses.
Lawmakers in the General Assembly introduced several pieces of legislation aimed at addressing the state’s affordable housing shortage this session, but most measures failed to advance.
Lawmakers ultimately voted to table a bill that would have directed the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development to develop a model ordinance for accessory dwelling units for localities to use. ADUs, also referred to as “granny flats,” are small units built on a lot with an existing primary residence. Housing advocates have pointed to ADUs as a tool to address the state’s housing shortage.
Other bills that failed to advance included a measure to allow localities to provide for an affordable housing dwelling unit program by amending local zoning ordinances and another proposal, which directed the Virginia Housing Commission to develop recommendations to alleviate local policies that “constrain the supply of affordable and workforce housing.”
The General Assembly did end up sending a bill to Gov. Glenn Youngkin that requires localities with a population greater than 3,500 to submit a report to the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development summarizing the adoption of local ordinances or policies impacting the development and construction of housing. The bill passed with broad bipartisan support.
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Madison Hirneisen is a staff reporter covering Virginia and Maryland for The Center Square. Madison previously covered California for The Center Square out of Los Angeles, but recently relocated to the DC area. Her reporting has appeared in several community newspapers and The Washington Times.
Photo “Mark Warner” by Senator Mark Warner. Photo “Tim Kaine” by U.S. Senator Tim Kaine. Background Photo “Virginia State Capitol” by Martin Kraft. CC BY-SA 3.0.