Richmond Regional Housing Framework

Findings

In 2015, PHA worked with Virginia Tech’s Center for Housing Research to produce a study that assessed the Richmond region’s housing needs. As part of the Framework, Virginia Tech conducted a five year update to the 2015 report, providing a thorough outline of our region’s housing challenges and changing demographics. These findings cover both the rental and homeownership market while also examining housing needs by race, age, and income. As a result, the Framework provides a detailed analysis of where we have been, where we are, and where we are going.

“Decent, affordable housing should be a basic right for everybody in this country. The reason is simple: without stable shelter, everything else falls apart.”

—Matthew Desmond, Evicted

The Richmond Region Faces a Variety of Housing Needs

In Richmond, the growing demand for urban living is placing significant pressure on residents in many neighborhoods. In Henrico and Chesterfield, changing demographics and market trends require new, creative thinking. As Hanover grows, it seeks to maintain rural character while providing denser choices. And in Ashland, residents, and planners alike seek to fit new housing demand into its valued small-town, main street feel.

We Have Common Housing Challenges to Solve Together

While each locality has its unique assets and challenges, there is more that unites us than divides us. All must plan for the rapid “greying” of their populations as baby boomers and seniors age. All must address the current deficit—and future demand—for homes available to modest-income households looking to rent or own. And all must find innovative ways to preserve our existing housing stock to keep it accessible, resilient, and affordable for future generations.

Housing Opportunity and a Thriving Workforce are Linked

While the unemployment rate in the Richmond region hovers at or below 3%, there remains a critical need to match those that are unemployed or underemployed with the varied job openings that exist, to meet employer demand, and to ensure individuals have opportunities to meet their basic needs. Housing is not only a critical component in ensuring that an adequate workforce is available to meet the needs of local businesses, but the development, construction and financing of that housing is a key element of our economy’s health.

The Region’s Rental Market

Renters across the Richmond region have exceedingly diverse backgrounds, challenges, and opportunities. Much attention gets paid to young professionals with stable, well-paying jobs who compete with one another for newer, high-end apartments.

But at the same time, low-income renters compete for an extremely limited supply of quality housing and face long waiting lists for rental assistance programs. When service-industry employees and others who earn a working-class wage find affordable homes, they often must endure long commutes to their jobs.

Today, our region faces a major deficit of apartments that fit the budget of low-income households. Without significant intervention, this shortfall will grow dramatically in the coming decades.

“The area is going to continue to grow and there is not enough affordable housing going in, it feels like they are trying to weed us out.”

—Resident of Ashland

Where We’ve Been

Income growth has significantly lagged behind rent increases.

Despite modest increases in real wages, rents in the Richmond region have risen much more quickly than the ability of most households to pay without being cost burdened. Across all localities, median incomes rose by 10% on average, while median rents increased by 20% on average.

Over the past five years, dedicated affordable apartments account for less than 20% of all new rental construction in the region.

Apartments remain in strong demand since the Great Recession.

A decade ago, the foreclosure crisis pushed thousands of homeowners into the rental market at the same time millennials joined the workforce and entered the housing market. Much of that demand still exists today: in the RRHF footprint, there are over 6,400 new renter households and 1,100 fewer homeowning households now than in 2010.

Federal resources for affordable housing have changed drastically since the 1980s.

Between the 1940s and 1970s, the federal government created and funded deeply affordable housing for very low-income households, including public housing. Those programs either no longer exist or are severely underfunded.

Today, almost all new dedicated affordable apartments are created by private and nonprofit developers using the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC). Hundreds of new LIHTC units are produced in the region each year, but the current demand still far outpaces new supply.

Where We Are

Low-income and black households are much more likely to have a rent burden.

Half of all the region’s renters pay more than they should for their apartment, but this burden is not equally distributed across the population. Two-thirds of these cost-burdened renters have household incomes below $35,000. And black renters are 15% more likely to be cost-burdened than their white counterparts.

Many of our region’s new apartments are out of reach to low-income households.

Over the past five years, dedicated affordable apartments account for less than 20% of all new rental construction in the region. Average rents for new, market-rate apartments built since 2014 are between $1,200 and $1,400—affordable only to households earning $50,000 per year or higher.

For every low-income household in an affordable apartment, another two are struggling to make rent.

The region is home to roughly 21,700 apartments with dedicated public subsidies to make rents affordable, including public housing and LIHTC properties. Roughly another 4,400 households use housing choice vouchers in the private rental market. Unfortunately, another 59,240 low-income renter households in the region remain cost-burdened. The Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority (RRHA) voucher waiting list, which has been closed for three years, contains over 6,300 families.

Most non-developed land parcels in the region are not zoned for apartment buildings.

For example, in the City of Richmond, there are approximately 496 total acres of vacant parcels currently zoned for multifamily development—which accounts for just one-tenth of all the vacant land in the City.

Where We’re Going

By 2040, the region will need homes for another 29,000 low-income households, including 16,000 who are very low-income.

Our region already has a deficit of 20,000 homes that are affordable to very low-income renters. Over the next two decades, we will also need to meet the coming demand for approximately 750 new low-income (between 50-80% AMI) and 800 new very low-income (below 50% AMI) households per year. On average for the past five years, the region has only produced 240 units of dedicated affordable rental apartments, primarily through the LIHTC program.

Many of the region’s fastest-growing occupations will have working-class wages.

According to the Virginia Employment Commission, these occupational groups will account for over half of the employment growth in the Richmond region between now and 2026. Three of the eight have average salaries that do not support monthly housing costs above $1,000.

Policy Implications

There is a need for substantial new resources to meet current and future demand for affordable rental units. But federal funding remains limited and uncertain. Localities will need to consider innovative ways to provide these resources.

Restrictive land use policies can make apartments more expensive. Demand for apartments is high, but most of the region’s residential land remains zoned exclusively for single-family homes. This artificial scarcity increases development costs and raises rents.

Meeting demand for new housing types is a major opportunity to create denser, well-connected neighborhoods that have lower fiscal impacts. Localities should relax policies that restrict the development of higher density, more affordable housing options to make communities that are mixed-use, walkable, and better served by transit. By design, these developments require lower local infrastructure costs than sprawl—in both short and long terms.

Workforce training provides the opportunity for individuals to earn a family sustaining wage. However, investments in financial aid are necessary to help participants enroll, persist, and complete requirements for a workforce credential.

Click here to read solutions for making our rental market affordable.

The Homeownership Market

Over the past century, owning a home became one of the most successful ways for Americans to accumulate wealth and gain financial independence. Unfortunately, homeownership remains out of reach for many people throughout the region because our incomes aren’t keeping up with rising prices created by an extremely limited supply. Young professionals, working families, and seniors alike face major challenges looking for a home to buy in the Richmond region.

Furthermore, decades of discriminatory policies created—and continue to perpetuate—major barriers for Black and Latino people to purchase homes. This racial homeownership gap is a national problem, and the Richmond region is no exception. Today, our region’s homeownership rate for African Americans is a full 25 points lower than the white homeownership rate. Without intentional intervention to address housing patterns and the barriers to homeownership, the Richmond region will continue to be highly segregated and the racial wealth gap will remain.

“I’ve seen my property values go up 492% over two years...there are going to be bigger challenges in the future.”

—Resident of City of Richmond

Where We’ve Been

Major public and private efforts to expand homeownership in the 1930s helped White households at the expense of Black households and neighborhoods of color.

In 1937, the Home Owners’ Lending Corporation (HOLC), a federal agency, graded Richmond neighborhoods from “A” through “D” to designate where government-backed home loans should be made. Communities with high concentrations of Black households, regardless of neighborhood quality or stability, were consistently rated “D”—the least desirable for investment. Marked red on maps, these “redlined” neighborhoods were systematically denied access to the same financing tools and wealth-building opportunities provided to White communities.

Why is redlining relevant today? One example: in 2016, the median household income in Richmond’s “A” neighborhoods was $95,800. In the redlined “D” neighborhoods, it was $32,800.

The Black homeownership rate in Virginia is lower today than it was 50 years ago, severely impacting the ability of Black households to grow, accumulate, and pass down wealth.

The Fair Housing Act of 1968 made discrimination in the housing market a federal crime. As of the 1970 Census, the homeownership rate for Black Virginians was 51.5%. Nearly half a century later in 2017, the Black homeownership rate in the state was 47.8%.

In the Richmond region today, three in four White households own their home, while fewer than two in four Black households do. While the total number of Black homeowners in Chesterfield, Hanover, and Henrico has steadily increased over the past two decades, there are nearly 4,000 fewer Black homeowners in the City of Richmond now than in 2000.

Home prices in the region have rebounded strongly since the recession.

The average sales price of a home in the Richmond region in 2009 was $210,000. Nearly a decade later in 2018, an average home sells for $261,290. Every locality’s average sales price rose between 21% and 24% over that time, except for the City of Richmond, which increased a significant 56%.

Where We Are

Home prices are still on the rise, but incomes continue to lag behind.

Owning a home is not as easy today as it may have been a decade or two ago. Incomes for many occupations—including skilled, full-time positions—have grown far slower than home prices. As a result, many of our region’s workers cannot afford homeownership without enduring fiscal stress.

The starter home inventory is extremely tight.

Buying a home may be more expensive now, but that does not stop buyers from looking. Young workers with decent savings and good-paying jobs are looking for starter homes—just like their parents before them. Ironically, many of their parents are looking to downsize into the same home: a smaller, more affordable house closer to amenities.

According to data from the Central Virginia Regional Multiple Listing Service, starter homes in the $150,000 to $200,000 price range took an average of 32 days to sell five years ago in 2013. In 2018, they sold in 8 days. By the spring and summer of 2019, these homes were selling in less than a week.

The racial homeownership gap gets larger every day.

In 2017, an average of twenty-six homes were purchased by White buyers in the region each day. For Black buyers, just six per day. For Latino buyers, fewer than two per day. As racial disparities in homeownership continue, so too will the racial wealth gap.

Nonprofit production of new affordable homes is strong, but not close to meeting demand.

Nonprofit community development corporations (CDCs) leverage federal, local, and private funding to deliver high-quality homes for sale to low-income buyers in the Richmond region. Prices typically range from $140,000 to $185,000. Over the past three years, the CDC industry has built or rehabilitated and sold, on average, 65-70 homes annually. Those account for just over 2% of all new single-family homes built during that same time.

Where We’re Going

Today’s new construction homes are unlikely to meet the needs of tomorrow’s families.

In 2018, the average new construction single-family home had four bedrooms, two and a half bathrooms, was 2,600 square feet in size, and sold for $381,000. This home was designed for an upper-income family with more than one child, but the only two household sizes with net growth since 2010 are 1- and 2-person households. And half of all the new households projected to form between now and 2040 will be seniors, many of whom will be looking for smaller homes in neighborhoods with greater density.

Policy Implications

Localities and developers must recognize that buyers of the future will likely be older; or, younger with smaller families. These demographics seek similar housing that is smaller, denser, and closer to amenities.

Longstanding federal civil rights protections are not enough to bridge the racial homeownership gap. If localities want to increase ownership opportunities for minorities, strong intentional policies are needed.

There exists a strong opportunity for regional collaboration to streamline home purchase opportunities for low-income buyers. Educational and financial resources could be coordinated across localities and nonprofits to remove duplicative efforts, save costs, and expand homeownership.

Alternative homeownership models may help grow wealth-building opportunities. Community land trusts, cooperatives, and other shared equity programs are proven strategies that make ownership more accessible to low-income households.

Click here to read solutions for making homeownership more attainable.

Senior Housing Needs

Baby boomers are finally booming into retirement. Seniors are the fastest-growing household type throughout the region. As we prepare for this “age wave,” our housing will need to adapt to the specific needs and challenges of seniors.
Unfortunately, we need to make up lost ground. Decades of sprawling suburban growth have left baby boomers—now with adult children no longer living at home—in “wrong-sized” homes. Even with resources to age-in-place, car-dependent neighborhoods make social isolation a real risk. Retirees seeking smaller homes, single-floor housing options, and neighborhoods where it’s easier to live without a car, often compete with young homeowners and renters seeking the same kind of smaller housing stock and urban amenities.

Seniors are also not immune to economic inequality. Not every retiree has a nest egg to hunt for a new home or condo; many are on low, fixed incomes and are at risk of being “trapped-in-place.” These seniors have significant challenges with deferred maintenance and poor accessibility with limited resources to preserve housing security.

“Some seniors want to live in an apartment. I don’t want to maintain a home anymore, I can’t.”

—Resident of Ashland

Where We’ve Been

Yesterday’s suburban population booms were fueled by sprawling single-family neighborhoods. Today, parents of those families are becoming seniors.

Along with the rest of the nation, Richmond absorbed the baby boom by building out. In the two decades following World War II, the region built nearly double the number of all homes built before then. Most of these were outside the city: between 1950 and 1989, three in four new homes built in the region were for buyers in Chesterfield, Hanover, and Henrico.

Many older adults bought new homes or refinanced in the early 2000s, and many are still carrying significant debt.

In 2000, nearly 40,000 seniors in the region owned their home. Today, that number is 65,000. But the number of mortgage-burdened seniors has more than doubled—from 7,800 to 16,200. More than one in four senior homeowners are financially burdened by their mortgage.

Where We Are

Downsizing baby boomers and first-time homebuyers are both competing with existing seniors.

Two in five seniors who own their home live in a house that was built before 1970. These homes are generally smaller and closer to amenities than housing produced more recently. In the City of Richmond, 80% of all homeowning seniors live in a house over 50 years old—just the type of home in extremely high demand. Young and old buyers alike are seeking the same housing stock currently occupied by seniors.

Many senior homeowners are “stuck” in place.

According to a 2018 study by PHA, over 70% of all senior homeowners live in a house valued below $200,000. This lack of equity functionally prevents many seniors from moving into new, age-restricted homes that have an average cost near $340,000. As a result, our senior neighbors are aging in place not necessarily by choice, but because of serious financial constraints.

Seniors who rent their home are very likely to be cost-burdened.

Nearly 60% of all senior renters pay more than a third of their income for housing, leaving very little for healthcare, prescriptions, and other necessities. There are over 4,300 more rent-burdened seniors in the region today than in 2000.

Where We’re Going

By 2040, the region will need to help 37,000 new senior households age-in-place or find new homes.

That’s nearly the entire population of Hanover today. There will be five new senior households formed in the region every day for the next twenty years. By 2040, the senior population will have almost doubled since 2010. No matter which way you put it, seniors are growing quickly and significantly. Furthermore, most of this growth will take place in the next decade, rather than the decade after. And, these estimates do not account for potentially major shifts in the number of seniors who may relocate to the Richmond region from elsewhere.

Seniors are increasingly finding themselves in multigenerational households.

While the number of senior-led households are on the rise, so are households with two or more generations. Specifically, seniors living with adult children and/or grandchildren. This type of household was very common a century ago and is now becoming more common as demographics change and ample housing becomes harder to obtain. In the Richmond region, the number of seniors living with families where they are not the primary householder has increased by more than 4,000 since 2012.

Policy Implications

Senior and soon-to-be-senior housing demand is shifting to smaller homes near amenities. Will local zoning support this market shift, and will all seniors be able to afford any potential new homes?

There are still many seniors who desire to age-in-place. To keep this population from becoming “trapped-in-place” localities will need to make sure there are ample resources for keeping this population safely and affordably housed, including home modifications and supportive services.

Seniors on limited fixed incomes who rent have high housing insecurity. Whether they are in an assisted living facility or not, seniors in rental housing need additional resources and protections to ensure they are not displaced.

Changes in household structure may require serious land use changes. “Granny flats” and other accessory dwelling units could help alleviate changes in senior housing demand, but such uses require policy reform in order to be adopted in many areas.

Click here to read solutions for helping seniors with their housing needs.

Housing Quality

Your home and your health are directly related. A quality home that is safe, secure, and affordable is nearly always a necessary condition for a quality life. On the other hand, a poor-quality home can severely impact physical, mental, and financial health.

Poor housing quality can result in lead exposure, mold and asthma from deteriorating materials, and insect or rodent infestations, just to name a few health dangers. The threat of facing these exposures and the uncertain costs and expenses can be a mental health strain. Poor housing quality can also result in staggering utility costs as poor insulation, leaky windows or damaged roofs require home heating and cooling systems to work overtime.

The Richmond region faces some unique housing quality challenges. Thousands of public housing units have deteriorated over seven decades due to declining federal funding. Additionally, over 10,000 of our neighbors live in mobile home parks, many of which have dangerous housing and crumbling infrastructure. And a good portion of our inner-ring suburban homes will be a century old in the next few decades, requiring repairs, modernization and replacement.

“It was normal to put a bucket down if the roof leaked...pipes froze all day long. Bugs and fleas were acceptable and it was a reality.”

—Resident of Hanover County

Where We’ve Been

Thousands of our dedicated affordable homes are reaching the end of their functional lifespan.

Beginning in the 1940s and continuing over the next 20 years, the federal government supported the construction of public housing communities in the City of Richmond. Today, the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority is responsible for more than 4,000 public housing units that are, on average, nearly 60 years old.

More than 5,000 additional apartments across the region were built using the Project-Based Section 8 rental assistance program and are, on average, 40 years old. Declining federal resources for these and public housing communities have left many homes with substandard climate control, plumbing and appliances, as well as other components necessary for quality housing.

Mobile home parks became commonplace in the Richmond region by the 1980s.

“Trailer homes” began to proliferate in the 1950s, as Americans found an increasing desire to travel the country. Roadside villages to accommodate these travelers soon transformed into communities for “mobile homes” by the 1970s. Despite the name, these homes soon became anything but mobile. Quality and efficiency standards for factory-built homes did not appear until 1979. By then, thousands of poorly built mobile homes were delivered to parks throughout Richmond as permanent housing, primarily along Route 1. By the 1980s, localities began to seriously restrict the development and expansion of these mobile home parks, but many still exist.

Our first suburban homes were built well, but are beginning to need attention.

Homes in our region’s inner-ring suburbs—like Lakeside and Highland Springs—are desirable due to their size and proximity to the City. They were generally high-quality construction but built before many amenities like central air and well-insulated windows became commonplace. Rising energy costs can make these older homes more expensive than they should be.

Where We Are

Vast investments are needed to improve and preserve our dedicated affordable housing stock.

Thousands of our neighbors depend on public housing and other dedicated affordable apartments for housing security. Unfortunately, the age and condition of these units can sometimes make that impossible.

Over half of the region’s mobile home parks have a significant number of old, unregulated units.

Mobile homes built before the federal government began to require safety and efficiency standards are common in manufactured home communities throughout Richmond. These homes are some of our region’s worst housing stock; in many cases, they are literally falling apart. In some communities, site infrastructure and utilities are failing due to age and inadequate maintenance.

High utility costs in low-quality homes reduces housing security for both owners and renters alike.

Even when housing costs are affordable, high electric and gas bills due to poor housing conditions can lead to energy cost burdens. During very hot or cold periods, some families are forced to decide between comfort and other life necessities, like food and transportation. Because older, less-efficient homes are generally more affordable, energy burdens disparately impact low-income households.

Nonprofit housing organizations continue to make a significant, positive impact through home rehabilitation programs, but the need remains large.

Organizations like Rebuilding Together and project:HOMES provide much-needed repair and rehab services to both low-income homeowners and renters. But between these two organizations, and others, only 300-350 families are served by these efforts annually.

Where We’re Going

An increasing senior population will need their homes upgraded and retrofitted to age-in-place.

There will be five new senior households formed in the region every day for the next twenty years. While some well-off retirees will be able to afford new housing better suited to their long-term needs, many seniors will require serious improvements to their current homes in order to affordably and safely age in place.

Advances in energy efficiency technology may make housing quality interventions less expensive and easier to deploy

High quality, sustainable building materials are no longer only for luxury housing. Today, rehab specialists can improve indoor air quality and reduce energy expenses for much lower costs than previously possible. The region’s nonprofit housing providers remain on the cutting edge; they could make significant impacts with additional resources.

Industry innovations allow factory-built, manufactured homes to be highly durable, efficient, and affordable.

New, high-quality manufactured homes are a potential solution for replacing old mobile homes in parks and elsewhere. Under the right circumstances, these homes provide owners with ample housing security and wealth-building opportunities.

Policy Implications

Localities must decide how best to direct resources to the creation of new housing, versus preservation of existing stock. Neither extreme is ideal; therefore, localities need to make informed decisions about their housing resource allocation to have the greatest impact.

Meaningful housing quality improvements range from simple upgrades to major community interventions. For some households, a simple wheelchair ramp or roof repair makes a tremendous difference. But in other cases, the root problem requires more effort; for example, infrastructure improvements and community revitalization in a mobile home park. Localities must address both quick and long-term solutions.

Social services and healthcare providers have vested interests in the quality of our region’s housing. Localities should explore better connections between their own agencies, such as code enforcement, social services, first responders, and their local health districts to better track needs and direct resources.

Click here to read solutions for improving the quality of our region’s housing.

Housing Stability & Displacement

Fortunately, the Richmond region is growing; but not everyone benefits from that growth. New demand for urban living puts pressure on the same neighborhoods that were targeted with redlining, so-called urban renewal, and subprime loans. The gentrification of Church Hill, Jackson Ward, and other historically Black communities does not appear to be slowing, and is in fact spreading.

Socioeconomic shifts in the City have a ripple effect in the surrounding counties. In the past decade, not only has poverty in our region grown, it has suburbanized. In Chesterfield and Henrico, where subsidized apartments are less common, many lower-income families find it challenging to find affordable housing.

When a housing market cannot satisfy the needs of a population, households with the fewest resources suffer the most. One very destructive symptom of this instability is an eviction, when a household faces literal displacement. Following a groundbreaking release of civil court data in 2018, Richmond was identified as one of the highest-evicting cities in the nation. Today, addressing housing instability remains a major challenge for the region.

“Will there be a decrease of black homeowners and renters in my community? I am concerned that people that look like me will not be able to live here.”

—Resident of City of Richmond

Where We’ve Been

Richmond has a long, unfortunate history of displacement in Black communities.

In the wake of Reconstruction and as a result of Jim Crow laws, Black Richmonders coalesced into several City neighborhoods. The largest of these—Jackson Ward—was a vibrant cultural and financial hub for African Americans throughout the East Coast. Beginning in the 1930s, and continuing for the next fifty years, local officials began using newly available federal housing and transportation funds to intentionally divide and destroy Jackson Ward and other Black neighborhoods in Richmond.

Whether for “slum clearance,” interstate highway construction, or urban renewal, White leaders effectively used large federal investments to tear down Black neighborhoods. By the end of the 1950s, over 4,700 homes were destroyed in Jackson Ward. They were replaced by the City’s first public housing development, Gilpin Court, with fewer than 800 units. Over the next 40 years, additional top-down displacement occurred in the Navy Hill, Randolph, Fulton, and Blackwell neighborhoods.

In the 2000s, subprime loans took a significant toll on communities of color.

Between 2004 and 2013, 7% of all home loans made to White buyers were subprime, compared to 40% for Black buyers. Due in large part to these toxic mortgages, there were more than 4,700 foreclosures in the City of Richmond between 2005 and 2014. Nearly half were in neighborhoods where the Black population was greater than 80%.

Poverty is moving to the suburbs.

In the City of Richmond, about one resident in four lives in poverty. That ratio is lower in the surrounding counties, but they are now areas where poverty rates are growing fastest. Between 2000 and 2014, the number of persons in poverty in Chesterfield, Hanover, and Henrico grew by 110%—far faster than in the City. This trend is likely to continue, as low-income households are pushed out of gentrifying neighborhoods, the suburban housing stock ages, and older homeowners in these counties struggle to live on fixed incomes.

Where We Are

Recent housing cost increases in some historically Black neighborhoods are fueling displacement.

There are 3,600 fewer Black homeowners in Richmond today than in 2000. In Jackson Ward and Church Hill, the number of Black homeowners decreased by roughly 30%, while the number of White homeowners increased by more than 150%.

Richmond has one of the highest known eviction rates in the country.

Recent research by the Princeton Eviction Lab, along with the [VCU-based RVA Eviction Lab], show that eviction notices—and actual evictions—are all-too-common occurrences for renters in the Richmond region. According to national data, the City’s 11% eviction rate is three to four times the average across the country. Landlord may initiate evictions for many reasons, but the most common cause is nonpayment of rent. Evictions are often considered a symptom of poverty, but they are better understood as a cause. For example, a highly cost-burdened family evicted for missing a month’s rent due to an emergency medical bill now must find housing that accepts applicants with prior evictions—significantly limiting their options.

Where We’re Going

A large demand for housing over the next decade—especially in urban neighborhoods—will continue to put pressure on sensitive communities.

Thousands of new residents are expected in the City of Richmond in the coming years. Many will look for homes that are relatively affordable and near amenities, which are often in neighborhoods that are gentrifying or adjacent to rapidly changing areas.

Without intervention, over 40% of all our dedicated affordable rental homes will fall out of compliance (affordability) in the next 15 years.

Low-income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) developments and some other forms of subsidized rental housing are not required to be permanently affordable. Based on program designs and other factors, compliance periods may last 30 or fewer years. Because a large number of our LIHTC units were placed into service during the 1980s and 1990s, the end of their compliance periods are looming.

Policy Implications

Future redevelopment of affordable housing will need to minimize the potential for displacement. Assuming resource availability, a large amount of our public housing stock and other affordable rental homes will be redeveloped in the near future.

Demand for urban living will require localities, particularly the City of Richmond, to address gentrification. Rapid neighborhood changes in the suburbs may also increase housing insecurity for low-income households, especially seniors.

Poor housing stability places a significant strain on other public resources. Evictions and other forms of displacement require courts, social services, and other providers to Intervene. Proactively increasing stability may minimize unnecessary resource depletion.

Click here to read solutions for increasing housing stability.

Housing Choice & Opportunity

Our region remains highly segregated by race and income. These patterns are reinforced by policies, actions, and attitudes of the past and present. The unfortunate result is that communities of opportunity—those with attractive amenities, strong schools, and access to jobs—are often only accessible at the expense of higher housing costs. For those unable to move into these communities, quality of life suffers due to limited education and workforce opportunities. Barriers of many kinds, whether structurally or informally enforced, limit choice and opportunity for lower income households.

“Just because you’re low income, why can’t you live in a nicer area with better schools? But people say, ‘I don’t want those people in my neighborhood.’”

—Resident of Chesterfield

Where We Are

The overwhelming majority of our affordable homes are not in communities of opportunity.

Among all the homes used by Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) holders and LIHTC apartments, fewer than 10% are in attendance zones for elementary schools where no more than 75% of students qualify for free and reduced meals. And 85% of all these homes are in neighborhoods where the average life expectancy is below the regional average of 78 years. There is an acute need to increase the affordability of homes in these areas with high educational and health opportunities.

Even with housing assistance secured, some families have trouble finding a good home.

HCVs help thousands of renters across the region afford their homes. Unfortunately, they are only useful when these families successfully find and secure a home to rent. New research from Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia (HOME) indicates that this is easier said than done: based on a sample survey of apartment communities in the region, fewer than one in five accepted HCVs.

Low-income households can afford to live in only a small segment of the region.

An affordable monthly rent for a two-person household earning 50% of AMI is about $865. Of the 224 census tracts in the region, only 46 have median rents below that amount. And most of those are located in lower opportunity urban areas or isolated rural areas.

An affordable monthly rent for a two-person household earning 50% of AMI is about $865. Of the 224 census tracts in the region, only 46 have median rents below that amount. And most of those are located in lower opportunity urban areas or isolated rural areas.

Policy Implications

Opportunity is needed in both existing communities, as well as new housing. There are different types of solutions for both needs.

Housing opportunity must be addressed holistically. Access to an affordable home should also include meaningful connections to good transit, employment, schools, and other important components necessary for one to thrive.

Click here to read solutions for expanding housing choice and opportunity.

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