“Anti-NIMBY” Bill Soon to Become Law in Virginia

Affordable housing advocates in Virginia secured a victory in the Virginia legislature that many believe will make affordable housing easier to build. Sponsored by Delegate Jeff Bourne (D-Richmond), HB 2046 stipulates that starting July 1, localities in Virginia will no longer be allowed to deny building permits “because the housing development contains or is expected to contain affordable housing units occupied or intended for occupancy by families or individuals with incomes at or below 80% of the median income of the area.” Virginia is the third state to pass such a law.

Delegate Bourne stated his intention with the legislation was to limit communities’ ability to use discriminatory practices to block affordable housing. The Fair Housing Act of 1968 explicitly bans race-based discrimination in the housing market, but enforcement of such a ban has been circumvented by communities using “not-in-my-backyard” (NIMBY) rhetoric.

Advocates are optimistic about the bill’s potential impact. “More than anything this anti-NIMBY bill sets the tone that local governments can’t deny housing based on the income of the prospective residents,” said Brian Koziol, executive director of the Virginia Housing Alliance (an NLIHC state partner). “The bill sends the message to local governments that we are in dire need of affordable housing, and it is no longer acceptable to refuse low-income housing. Local governments can no longer say based on the style, design or neighborhood character of the proposal that it doesn’t fit with community standards.”

Mr. Koziol also cautioned that there could be legal challenges to the bill in the future and that the bill is not a fix-all, but “one helpful piece of a very complex puzzle.”

Read more about the bill at: https://bit.ly/3clr5tE