• 2015 VHC Annual Awards Luncheon

    We have opened up table sponsorships for the 2015 Awards Luncheon. Each table includes 10 attendees. Individual ticket sales coming soon!

    Click here to reserve a table!

  • 2015 Housing Credit Conference

    Oct 8-9, Richmond, VA We are currently seeking sponsorships for the 2015 Housing Credit Conference

    Click here for more information

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Let’s Imagine It, Let’s Make It Happen: Energy Efficiency for All Virginians

Imagine a world in which all of our homes make efficient use of energy. We get a lot of bang from every bit of electricity that powers appliances and lighting. We don’t have to worry about seasonal swings in temperature because of good insulation and sealing around apertures into our abodes. Our home feels reliably comfortable and healthy, giving us a platform from which to thrive in our lives.

Sadly, that’s not the Virginia of today, especially in the case of low-income apartment renters. As a result of inefficiency of their homes, based on income, the utility bills for affordable housing residents are typically 10x higher than for higher-income households. Imagine that burden instead!

Thankfully a new, groundbreaking energy-savings potential study from the Energy Efficiency for All project examined the 12 percent – 385,000 households — of our housing stock is in the affordable multifamily category. It finds that state regulators and the electric and gas utilities they control could cut electricity usage in those households by 28 percent, reduce gas usage by 19 percent, with huge returns on those investments. Specifically, Virginians would get nearly three times as much back for every dollar we invest in improving these properties.

The returns include reduced bill arrearages, improvements in health, increased resident comfort and higher property values.

Seems like a no-brainer, right?

Further, consider the overall benefits to housing affordability. Utility costs are a huge part of the cost structure for rental housing, as you can see from the graph below (Source: Lee, Christopher, 2012 Survey of Operating Income & Expenses in Rental Apartment Communities [Executive Summary] (Arlington, VA: National Apartment Association, 2012).

EE Chart

So improving the units in these buildings – and even better, buildings as a whole as best practices indicate should be the focus – is a big step towards keeping housing affordable for renters. This is a big issue in Virginia and nationally, with rents pinching households everywhere.

And for readers who might own not rent, remember we’re all in this together. Many of today’s renters are tomorrow’s buyers. So the whole housing market is jeopardized by our rental housing challenge.

Why on earth aren’t state officials and utilities tackling this challenge? In a word, because it’s hard. To be clear, energy-efficiency is not that difficult; the Commonwealth just hasn’t committed to it yet, as you can see from the low ranking in this nationally recognized scorecard of state energy-efficiency programs. But even those states that excel in energy efficiency have been leaving a lot of potential energy savings in multifamily housing on the table. This has admittedly been a struggle compared to work with single-family housing improvements.

That’s why Energy Efficiency for All also wrote a Program Design Guide with best practices from states across the country. It’s a grab-bag of great ideas for state officials and the utilities they regulate. Some that are worth considering in the Commonwealth include:

  • Establishing a goal to capture all cost-effective efficiency in multifamily affordable housing;
  • Improving building owners’ access to energy usage information;
  • Developing programs specifically targeted to multifamily affordable housing;
  • Structuring incentives for whole-building savings; and
  • Building partnerships with key local market participants.

Let’s get to work!

Thanks to our guest blogger, Deron Lovaas, State/ Federal Policy Director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, for submitting the following blog on energy efficiency. Deron Lovaas

2015 Annual Luncheon Award Winners Announced

This year’s Luncheon will be held on June 18th at the Greater Richmond Convention Center and you and your organization are invited to attend! This is one of our favorite annual events where housers from around the state gather to celebrate each others work and accomplishments. Click here to purchase a table sponsorship for your organization.

The 2015 Award Winners are:

“Game Changer” Award Winners:  The “Game Changer” Award is presented to individuals whose work has had a recent significant and innovative impact on the affordable housing industry.

Steven Benham, Hopewell Redevelopment and Housing Authority
Under Steven’s leadership, HRHA has excelled at providing quality customer service, retaining qualified employees, and leveraging resources to improve housing. In 2014-15, Steven led the team that developed Virginia’s first RAD public housing community.

Michelle Krocker, Northern Virginia Affordable Housing Alliance
In addition to launching the Northern Virginia Affordable Housing Alliance, Michelle was one of the founders of the Communications Action Network (CAN) which ties messaging about housing with economic growth and prosperity.  CAN also works to promote positive images of workforce housing in the Washington media market.

Andrew McCoy, Virginia Tech Center for Housing Research
As the principle investigator and author of the study “The Impact of Energy Efficient Design and Construction on LIHTC Housing in Virginia,” Andrew produced game changing data on the cost savings that result from energy efficient design.  This research is among the first of its kind to confirm the impact of green building on residents and owners.

Top 40 Network:  The Top 40 Network was launched in 2012.  Each year, new members are inducted.  The Network brings together early to mid-career professionals working in the affordable housing sector.  The Network includes the next generation of affordable housing leaders in Virginia and provides the opportunity for peer learning and relationship building.

Lisa Yost, New River Community Action

As Coordinator of Homeless and Housing Programs, Lisa has increased both the availability of services and their quality.

Beth Seward, VHDA
As the Director of Community Housing (REACH Team), Beth has been instrumental in advancing the VHDA Capacity Building grant initiative.

Nicole de Lima Morris- Cornerstones
As a Senior Asset Manager, Nicole oversees the management and financial feasibility of the agency’s affordable supportive housing portfolio.

Jack Thompson, Richmond Habitat for Humanity
As Vice President of Construction and Real Estate, Jack takes the lead on acquiring property for future builds and rehabs.

Abbitt Woodall, Housing Partnerships, Inc.
As Executive Director, Abbitt has created partnerships to increase capacity and leverage resources.

Kim Painter, Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing
As the Chief of Staff, Kim has helped improve the financial position of APAH’s properties while maintaining quality.

Jameika Sampson, Bon Secours Health Systems
As the Manager of Program Evaluation and Sustainability, Jameika has played a key role of in the transformation of the East End neighborhood in Richmond.

 The 2015 Housing Hall of Fame Inductees are:

Karl Bren: Longtime advocate for affordable housing and Virginia’s non-profit housing development community. He was the “father” of the Virginia Housing Partnership Fund in 1989.  At VHDA, he served as the liaison to non-profit housers for a decade.  He led the effort to “green” housing in Virginia.  He founded Virginia Supportive Housing, EarthCraft Virginia and numerous other non-profit housing and green organizations.

Conrad Egan: Former President of the National Housing Conference and long time federal housing policy leader.  Conrad held high level positions at HUD in two administrations – most recently as Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary for Housing in the mid 1990’s. He chaired Fairfax County Affordable Housing Task Force and served on numerous other local housing boards.  He currently serves on the Board of Housing Virginia.

Shea Hollifield:  Director of Housing for the Department of Housing and Community Development from 2007 until her retirement in 2014. Shea spent much of her career at DHCD, working for many years as the Director for Community Development for many years before shifting to housing.  She was responsible for the launch of the Housing Trust Fund and the implementation of many initiatives to address homelessness.

Charlie McConnell: Executive Director of the Wise County Housing Authority for many years where he earned a reputation as an innovator in rural housing – especially with manufactured housing. He was a staunch rural housing advocate and a founder of the “Little 10” association of housing authorities in SWVA.  He serves on the board of VHDA.  He lives in Wise County where he frequently performs bluegrass at a local venue.

Don Ritenour:  Longtime senior management leader at VHDA.  Don joined VHDA in the early 1970s and retired in 2014.  He rose through the organization to become the director of homeownership programs for several decades.  For the last 10 years, he oversaw all housing development programs at VHDA, including multifamily and single family.  He presided over many changes and program improvements during his tenure. His legacy involves housing for tens of thousands of Virginia families.  He founded and directed the VHDA charity golf tournament for over 20 years which has generated well over $1 million in grants to homeless providers and habitat chapters.

Legislative Leadership Award Winners:

Sen. John Watkins Sen. John Watkins (R-Chesterfield, Powhatan, Richmond)
Sen. Janet HowellSen. Janet Howell (D-Arlington, Fairfax County)

VHC and VCEH Merger Discussion Update

As you are aware, the Virginia Housing Coalition (VHC) and the Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness (VCEH) are continuing to explore the possibility of joining forces and becoming one organization. We wanted to provide our supporters with an update on the process and next steps. The joint merger study committee met in February and March to evaluate the potential of a merger. During the past few weeks, a consultant has interviewed many stakeholders around the state to discuss a possible merger. The committee also has closely reviewed and analyzed the results of the recent merger survey, which was shared with members, stakeholders and supporters. Thank you to everyone who participated in the survey!

The results of the survey showed clear support for a potential merger and many participants mentioned both organizations’ shared missions of expanding affordable housing opportunity and ending homelessness in Virginia. Increased collaboration was cited and many indicated that an integration of VHC and VCEH could lead to more visibility, heightened efficiencies and greater impact. Over 82% of survey respondents, some of whom are not current members, stated that they would consider joining a merged organization, highlighting the support for exploring an integration.

The stakeholder interviews and survey responses offered a great deal of insights. A wide cross-section of affiliations were represented and the largest set of participants included:

  • Nonprofit Homeless Service Providers
  • Nonprofit Housing Providers
  • Agency/Local Government
  • Philanthropy/Funders

Activities that were ranked highest as “extremely important” in the survey were:

  • Advocacy on affordable housing with the Virginia General Assembly
  • Advocacy on homelessness with the Virginia General Assembly
  • Advocacy on affordable housing with state agencies
  • Advocacy on affordable housing with federal agencies

There also were a number of questions posed about the potential merger, including how to strike an equitable balance between homelessness and affordable housing issues, providing more technical assistance and training and how the new organization would identify priorities. The joint merger study committee will address these questions in coming work sessions and meetings. Additionally, Boards of Directors for both VHC and VCEH are planning to host a joint meeting in April to provide input on the structure and framework of a possible newly formed organization. If both organizations believe a potential merger is in its best interests, each Board would need to approve such action independently and at a later date.

You will continue to receive updates on this process and if you have any questions, please contact Alice Tousignant, VCEH interim executive director, at alice@vceh.org. You also can read Frequently Asked Questions on this process on the VHC website.

A look at the 2015 GA Session, a great year for housing!

The 2015 General Assembly Session wrapped up at the end of February. This year marked a sharp departure from the sometimes tense, partisan gridlock of 2014 that extended the last session in various forms through most of the year. The 2015 session ended on time with a budget that looks likely to be finalized without major issue in April after the veto session.

As with any session, housing advocates are left with much work to do on long term fair housing issues and securing adequate resources to meet specific housing needs in the state. However, this has been one of the greatest sessions for housing in years. Not only were we able to pass a study resolution looking at a sustainable revenue source for the HTF, with our advocacy and education efforts, we helped secure an $8 million appropriation to the Housing Trust Fund, matching its initial funding level in 2013!

We offer huge thanks and gratitude to the Coalition’s lobbyists for the session, Lauren Schmitt and Ralston King. Their work was instrumental in getting the HTF study resolution passed and they were a great help to the work of our Legislative Committee throughout session. We also thank Jeffrey Palmore for his pro-bono work that helped secure the passage of  SB1204 which eases the onerous reporting requirements of donations of valuable building materials when they are donated to non-profits like Habitat for Humanity.

Click below to see our 2015 session wrap up that details how our major bills and efforts fared in the GA this year:

2015 general assembly infographic(1)

VHC and VCEH Launch Merger Discussion

VHC + VCEH logo

The Virginia Housing Coalition (VHC)  and the Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness (VCEH)  have begun a dialogue to explore the possibility of joining forces and becoming one organization. Last month, a joint merger study committee was created and will develop recommendations for a combined work session of the Boards of both organizations later this spring. The goal is for the Boards to reach a final decision on whether and how a merger might be accomplished by late spring or summer.

Both organizations trace their roots back over 30 years and share the common mission of expanding affordable housing opportunity and ending homelessness in the Commonwealth.  In recent years, the organizations have begun to work more closely on education and advocacy.  Integration of VHC and VCEH could lead to higher visibility, increased efficiency and greater impact.

Since this exploration is just getting underway, the Boards of both organizations are interested in hearing the views of members, stakeholders and supporters regarding the potential integration.  Both organizations will be sending out a survey within the next week to seek input and advice on this matter. We encourage your participation in the survey and welcome your feedback.


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