The Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness (VCEH) and Virginia Housing Coalition (VHC), both NLIHC state partners, have joined with senior groups, service providers, religious groups, disability rights advocates, and realtors to launch the Campaign for a Virginia Housing Trust Fund.
If established, the trust fund would require that units be affordable for households earning 60% or less than the area median income and that 20% of the funding be prioritized for those who are homeless. Proposed sources of revenue include a real estate recordation tax and budget surplus funds. More recently, advocates have suggested a “trigger” mechanism that would generate funds from either source as the Virginia’s overall budget improves.
The state legislature’s Housing Commission first discussed the need for a housing trust fund in 2004, and authorizing legislation has been introduced in five of the past six legislative sessions. In April 2010, Governor Bob McDonnell issued an executive order establishing a Housing Policy Framework Initiative (HPFI), which specifically noted the importance of having a trust fund. As a result of these actions, advocates recognized the need to increase and expand their advocacy efforts.
The campaign has kicked off a Statewide Permanent Supportive Housing Tour that VCEH is hosting with the Arlington County Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness Task Force, City of Norfolk’s Office to End Homelessness, and Virginia Supportive Housing. The tour will build support for the trust fund, generate interest in using permanent supportive housing to reduce homelessness, and show concrete ways how trust fund money could be used.
On September 8, the campaign released an economic impact report documenting the benefits of a housing trust fund. Assuming a $10 million annual investment for 10 years, the report projected $1 billion in one-time economic activity over 10 years, $331 million in activity per year, and $91 million in cumulative tax revenue over 12 years. The Richmond Times Dispatch covered the release and featured a campaign op-ed that highlighted the need for the trust fund.
“With 40 state housing trust funds in the United States, including North Carolina, Maryland, and West Virginia, it is time for Virginia to join our neighbors and create and fund a housing trust fund,” said Phyllis Chamberlain, executive director of the Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness. “Trust Funds are fiscally responsible mechanisms that when funded with dedicated sources of revenue are proven to make a meaningful impact on the lives of families, improve our communities, and create desperately needed jobs in the construction sector. We are thankful to have the support of Governor McDonnell and look forward to working with our allies in the legislature to make the Virginia Housing Trust Fund a reality.”