On January 15, the Virginia Housing Coalition (VHC), an NLIHC State Coalition Partner, convened its annual Housing Day in Richmond, where more than 100 advocates from across the state gathered for training on housing issues and legislation and then headed to the General Assembly to meet with their state legislators.
The training covered VHC priorities, including the Virginia Housing Trust Fund (VHTF), housing the homeless, special needs housing, and fair housing. All priorities were linked to specific requests that participants were urged to make to their legislators.
For the Virginia Housing Trust Fund, advocates asked their legislators to support S.J. 235, which directs the Virginia Housing Commission to undertake a study to determine a dedicated revenue source for the fund. This request regarding the VHTF came as part of VHC’s Restore $10 Million for Housing Campaign (see Memo, 10/27).
In support of housing for the homeless, Housing Day participants urged their legislators to support a budget amendment of $4.5 million for supportive services for homeless veterans, to maintain $1 million for rapid re-housing, and to support Governor Terry McAuliffe’s (D) proposed funding levels for other homelessness programs.
Regarding special needs housing, Housing Day participants asked their state legislators to support raising the cap on the Livable Home Tax Credit from $1 million to $2 million per year. The tax credit provides up to $5,000 to builders or owners of homes that meet certain accessibility standards. Providing important support for seniors aging in place, the program is currently oversubscribed.
Finally, participants advocated that their elected officials support two bills to protect veterans and members of the LGBT community from housing discrimination (H.B. 1910 and H.B. 1454).
The VHC Housing Day advocates were recognized on the floor of the House of Delegates by Delegate Chris Peace (R) before visiting their legislators. At the end of the day, all participants reconvened for a reception and debriefing where they were thanked by Delegate Alfonso Lopez (D) and State Senator Barbara Favola (D) for bringing their issues to the General Assembly.
According to Zack Miller from VHC, “This was the best Housing Day we've had in years, not only in terms of participant turnout and energy, but also in the quality of materials we were able to provide on the Housing Trust Fund and our other issues. Advocates were equipped with district-specific information that allowed them to have a powerful impact on their legislators.”
For more information contact Zack Miller, Virginia Housing Coalition, at firstname.lastname@example.org.