With the November 5th election fast approaching, VHC issued an open letter to Gubernatorial candidates Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and Terry McAuliffe earlier this week. The letter briefs the candidates on the importance of affordable housing in the state and asks for a commitment to continue funding for the Housing Trust Fund. VHC is nonpartisan and does not endorse any candidates but we will let you know if we receive a commitment from either candidate!
Here is the text of the letter sent to Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and Mr. Terry McAuliffe:
“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 one million Virginia households are housing cost burdened – meaning, they pay more for housing than they can afford.
· Over 100,000 families have lost their homes to foreclosure; this epidemic continues to affect our neighbors and our communities. Many areas of the state still lag behind our stronger markets.
· The homeownership rate – in the state and the nation – continues to decline. We must ensure that rental housing is available to meet this growing demand, while also rebuilding opportunities for Virginians to build equity through home buying. Homeownership has long been the principle way for households of lower and moderate income to 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 two bedroom Fair Market Rent ($1,078.) The average renter wage in Virginia is only $15.79.
· Finally, while we have begun to make measurable progress in reducing homelessness, our momentum on best practices is threatened by cuts to federal rental assistance funding.
Good housing policy enables Virginians to live in adequate, affordable homes. Equally important, housing is a critical contributor to our state’s economy. Housing construction generates jobs in every part of the Commonwealth, and the significant ancillary economic activity 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 have been awarded, and will soon serve a broad range of Virginians in meeting their housing needs, including veterans, persons with disabilities, and individuals experiencing homelessness.
On behalf of our members across the state, we look forward to working with you to expand and improve housing opportunities for all Virginians in the next four years.”
Click here for a pdf of the letter
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