The Virginia Housing Coalition (VHC) and the Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness (VCEH), both NLIHC State Coalition Partners, are merging to form the Virginia Housing Alliance (VHA) for improved resource utilization, increased capacity, and greater impact. The merger will take effect in January 2016.
The process began when both VHC and VCEH’s boards voted in the fall of 2014 to explore the possibility of a merger. A merger study committee was created with four board members from each organization. As a member of the VHC board, NLIHC President and CEO Sheila Crowley served on the merger study committee.
The study committee was tasked with conducting research and developing a plan for a successful merger between the organizations. The committee sought input from other NLIHC State Coalition Partners that have undergone similar mergers. Bill Faith, Executive Director of the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio (COHHIO), and Rachel Myers, Executive Director of the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance (WLIHA), both provided guidance that helped the committee navigate the early stages of the process.
The study committee conducted a survey of stakeholders and constituents of both organizations and found overwhelming support for the merger. The consensus of those surveyed was that a merger would lead to better utilization of resources, create a stronger organizational presence in both homelessness and affordable housing, and offer the opportunity to build capacity to pursue new programs.
On April 23, 2015, the merger was approved by both organizations’ boards at a joint board strategy meeting. The agreement was put to a vote by the full membership of both organizations on October 18, and the merger was approved.
According to its new mission statement, VHA “expands affordable housing opportunities and ends homelessness through advocacy, education, and collaboration.” VHA will engage in a combination of the programs and services previously provided by VHC and VCEH, including advocacy and public policy, technical assistance, and communications. The Alliance also plans to launch a new training program called the Virginia Housing and Education Learning Partnership (VA-HELP). Initially, VA-HELP will serve as a web-based clearinghouse for affordable housing trainings across the state. The eventual goal for VA-HELP is to develop curricula and deliver trainings for the next generation of Virginia’s affordable housing and homeless service leaders.
With the consolidation of programs, services, resources and mission, VHA endeavors to be a stronger and more impactful organization. Zack Miller, who will serve as Policy Director at VHA, states: “I am particularly excited about bringing Virginia's housing and homelessness advocates together in our legislative efforts and am looking forward to working under the same roof with a combined staff who possess a wealth of knowledge in both housing and homelessness solutions, spanning policy and program implementation.”
For more information contact Zack Miller, Policy Director at VHC, at email@example.com.