Solutions in Progress – PHA

Richmond Regional Housing Framework

Solutions in Progress

Goal 1

PROGRESS MADE:

PHA completed a study analyzing commercial shopping centers in Chesterfield County that could be prime candidates for redevelopment. Two centers were selected for the county to seek redevelopment opportunity (Spring Rock Green and Rockwood Square). The report, available here, recommends actions that the county can take to remove zoning barriers and identify potential funds to pursue acquisition of the target shopping centers.

Chesterfield created a residential zoning overlay district on its Route 1 Corridor. The overlay district allows multifamily development to occur by-right, which cultivates an environment that makes it easier to develop multifamily housing.

Henrico County is currently updating its zoning code. During this process, the county has included newer zoning options that allow for additional density uses.

The City of Richmond’s master plan, Richmond 300: A Guide to Growth, prioritizes increasing the availability for multifamily development along many of the city’s corridors and growth nodes.

NEXT STEPS:

PHA will work with Chesterfield County to help remove any zoning barriers to clear the way for the redevelopment of selected shopping centers. This includes implementing the recommendations outlined in the commercial shopping centers report and identifying potential funding sources.

Support for both Henrico’s rezoning process and the Richmond 300 Master Plan will be provided as needed to ensure that there is alignment with the goals of the Framework.

PROGRESS MADE:

Henrico County included a draft ordinance to update its current accessory dwelling unit ordinance during the zoning code update process.

The City of Richmond’s Master Plan recommends updating its zoning ordinance to allow for accessory dwelling units by-right in all residential zones. This suggestion falls under Objective 14.5 of Richmond 300, which seeks to encourage more housing types and greater density.

NEXT STEPS:

PHA will support Henrico County’s zoning update and Richmond’s Master Plan and zoning process to ensure the adoption of Framework goals.

PROGRESS MADE:

Henrico County has prioritized the establishment of an Affordable Dwelling Unit (ADU) program in its Housing Advisory Committee.

NEXT STEPS:

During 2021, Henrico will begin drafting a potential ADU program to be included in the update of its Comprehensive Plan.

PROGRESS MADE:

Housing Opportunities Made Equal, Inc. (HOME) operates a mobility program to help housing choice voucher (HCV) holders move to higher opportunity. 319 households have successfully moved to higher opportunity from 2014 through 2020.

HOME has counseled 1276 HCV households to expand their housing search and the benefits that await them when moving to areas of opportunity

RRHA began accepting applications for the HCV waiting list for the first time in 5 years. 5,000 tenants were added to the waitlist to receive future HCVs.

NEXT STEPS:

With the General Assembly passing state legislation to include one’s source of income as a protected class under fair housing law, it is expected that HCV holders will have increased opportunities during 2021 to move into higher opportunity areas.

PROGRESS MADE:

Chesterfield County donated one of its surplus properties, the former Ettrick Elementary School Annex, to the land bank to develop affordable single-family homes.

Richmond announced that it will prioritize 34 surplus properties for future affordable housing development via request for proposals to non-profit and for-profit developers.

NEXT STEPS:

Maggie Walker Community Land Trust will continue to work with Ettrick Community members to determine the amount of homes and potential amenities that will be developed on the 5-acre site.

Goal 2

PROGRESS MADE:

The Maggie Walker Community Land Trust (MWCLT) continued to expand its footprint by bringing permanently affordable homes to Richmond, Henrico, and Chesterfield. 30 homes were developed during 2020 in partnership with project:HOMES and Richmond Metropolitan Habitat for Humanity.

NEXT STEPS:

PHA will work with MWCLT during 2021 to increase community engagement and understanding of the land trust model. This will serve to ensure that there is adequate education, trust, and public alignment with the model moving forward.

PROGRESS MADE:

Henrico County’s zoning code update process has included the use of smaller lot sizes such as R-4 and R-4A lots. R-4 and R-4A uses, currently prohibited in the county’s zoning code, allow for lot sizes with widths of 65 and 60 feet, respectively. They also enable a minimum lot area of 8,000 and 7,750 sq. ft., which is much smaller than currently allowable uses such as R-3 or R-2A (R-3 requires a lot size to be 11,000 sq. ft. and R-2A requires at least 13,500 sq. ft.)

Richmond’s Master Plan update recommends a variety of density uses in residential, single family neighborhoods. Specifically, the plan calls for accessory dwelling units by-right in all residential zones.

NEXT STEPS:

PHA will support the progression of the Richmond 300 plan and subsequent zoning changes in the City of Richmond. In Henrico, through the county’s housing advisory committee and the Framework’s advisory group, PHA will provide the necessary assistance to ensure that the zoning update aligns with the Framework’s goals.

PROGRESS MADE:

Project:HOMES sold a shipping container home, the first of its kind in the region, to a low-income buyer. The innovative structure is much smaller than the typical single-family home—totaling less than 1,000 feet. This allows the sales price to be reduced significantly. Its listing price of $130,000 is far below the median sales price for a new construction home in Richmond, which is $315,000.

NEXT STEPS:

project:HOMES, Virginia Housing and other partners are currently exploring methods to scale up the production of similar style homes. Currently, since these homes are built mainly in states like Idaho and Texas, transportation costs prevent this model from being replicated more frequently.

PROGRESS MADE:

Both Henrico and Chesterfield County designated the Maggie Walker Community Land Trust as their respective land bank in 2019. Since then, the two counties have made use of the tool by conveying a former annex school building site to the land bank in Chesterfield and donating a former well lot in Henrico to the land bank. Both sites will be used for the construction of affordable, quality homes.
The City of Richmond’s Land Bank held its first Citizens Advisory Panel (CAP) in February of 2020. The CAP is the entity charged with deciding the use and disposition of properties in the land bank. More importantly, the CAP ensures that there is equity in decision making by serving as a conduit to the public.
The Richmond Land Bank also helped create the North Jackson Ward Vision Plan to guide the development of 20 properties located in the historic neigborhood. This group will engage community members to set collective values for the future uses of the 20 land bank properties.

In September, the City of Richmond announced a plan to allot 32 parcels to the land bank to be developed for future affordable homeownership opportunities.

NEXT STEPS:

The Henrico well lot property is currently in the subdivision process and Chesterfield will work with the Ettrick community during 2021 to discuss development specifics for the former annex site. Richmond is expected to transfer the 32 parcels of surplus properties to the land bank during 2021.

PROGRESS MADE:

The Maggie Walker Community Land Trust created the Homeownership Bridge program as a pilot to provide prospective homebuyers with greater opportunity to achieve their goal. The program is a rent-to-own arrangement, which focuses on families who are struggling to qualify for a mortgage. A family rents the home for one year at a monthly rate that is less than $1,000. 50 percent of the rent payments are allocated into an escrow account. The buyer then uses those funds for a down payment on the home.

NEXT STEPS:

The rent-to-own program is a pilot that will be assessed to determine its effectiveness. The first potential buyer is currently living in the home and under the rental portion of the agreement.

Goal 3

PROGRESS MADE:

The health crisis made the process of critical home repairs much more challenging for our nonprofit partners throughout the year, especially due to the vulnerability of many seniors to the virus. Despite these barriers, nonprofits in the region were still able to find a way to provide essential repair services.

Richmond Metropolitan Habitat for Humanity completed critical repairs for 16 homes in the region while Rebuilding Together Richmond was able to serve over 60 households, many of them homeowners over the age of 70.

Project:HOMES was able to assist over 3,000 households. More than 120 wheelchair ramps were installed, in addition to 9 gut renovations, 417 home repairs, and weatherization for 250 single family homes.

NEXT STEPS:

The need for critical repair services, especially for seniors, far outweighs the available resources. PHA will work with the surrounding local governments to explore increased funding for repair services using funds that are outside of federal grants. This would provide greater flexibility to nonprofits and other services providers.

PROGRESS MADE:

Very low-income households earn 50% of Area Median Income or below. Better Housing Coalition began leasing for a new senior development located in Chesterfield County called Market Woods. The 60-unit community contains units that are restricted to seniors earning 50% of Area Median Income and is also conveniently situated near transportation, health services, and a grocery store.

In a partnership with the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority, Enterprise Community Development has begun construction on a 51-unit senior development called Baker School. Enterprise also completed Jackson Place Apartments, which houses units specifically for very low-income seniors.

NEXT STEPS:

Many low-income seniors are on fixed incomes that prevent them from being able to move into income-based properties without additional assistance. Next steps should focus on programs specifically geared towards finding housing opportunities for seniors on fixed incomes, providing them with the necessary funds for security deposits and first month’s rent to gain access to quality homes.

Goal 4

PROGRESS MADE:

The bulk of federal resources received by Henrico County was allocated toward housing and rehab related programs. This is in addition to the county’s revitalization fund, which is locally funded, that is helping to improve 11 single-family homes that were in poor physical condition.

Henrico has also entered into four memorandums of understanding (MOUs) to improve its subsidized apartment communities. Newbridge Village is undergoing improvements on roofing, sidewalks, stairways, and shutter replacements. Henrico Arms Apartments has completed 37% of its expected improvements, 180 units remain to be upgraded. And St. Luke’s apartments has completed upgrades on 130 units with 28 units under construction. 100-units at Hope Village Apartments underwent successful renovation at the end of 2019. These units represent nearly 15% of Henrico’s subsidized portfolio.

NEXT STEPS:

Henrico and PHA will continue to work with other local jurisdictions on replicating the MOU model to ensure that aging units receive the necessary improvements to promote quality, safe, and clean housing in the Richmond region.

PROGRESS MADE:

RRHA has been carrying out the relocation of all seniors living in the Fay Towers site to three separate developments. 77 residents were relocated to Highland Park Senior Apartments, 72 to Jackson Place, and 51 will be moved into the Baker School project.

Creighton Court redevelopment is underway with the Armstrong Renaissance Community. The Armstrong site will contain over 250 units, 90 of which will be for seniors, and 36 for single-family homeownership.

NEXT STEPS:

The redevelopment of Creighton Court will continue in multiple phases, while the Baker School project is under construction.

PROGRESS MADE:

Chesterfield County consolidated all code enforcement personnel into its Community Enhancement Department, which enables the county to focus enforcement efforts through a housing lens. The county also has dedicated code enforcement for the Route 1 corridor, an area in which Chesterfield is concentrating much of its revitalization work.

Chesterfield also established a blight ordinance in which the Community Enhancement department can request the Board of Supervisors to declare a property blighted. Once declared blighted, an abatement plan is developed to determine the disposition of the property. Upon plan completion, the county repairs the property and can transfer it to the land bank to be sold for an affordable homeownership opportunity.

NEXT STEPS:

Chesterfield will work with its planning and building inspection staff to identify blighted properties throughout the county that could be targets for the blight ordinance process.

Goal 5

PROGRESS MADE:

In the Eviction Diversion Program’s pilot year, HOME was able to disburse over $320,000 in financial assistance to bring rental accounts current. 413 evictions were diverted, and 400 clients received housing stability education training. The average income of EDP clients was $19,532, meaning that the program helped to serve some of the city’s lowest earning households.

NEXT STEPS:

The EDP will work on building program capacity for the expected increase in calls during the beginning portion of 2021, as well as improving its technology to achieve greater efficiency in client management.

Goal 6

PROGRESS MADE:

PHA launched Housing Matters RVA, a campaign designed to connect residents with their elected officials and position housing as a policy priority. Community members and organizations can sign the “Housing Pledge” to emphasize their commitment to housing, in addition to directly contact their council member or Board of Supervisor to support a particular housing policy.

NEXT STEPS:

PHA will send regular updates throughout the year to enable community members to stay abreast with housing activity at the local level. When the time is appropriate, calls to action will be communicated so that residents can show their support through the campaign platform.

PROGRESS MADE:

With the help of PlanRVA, the counties of Chesterfield and Henrico and the city of Richmond began a joint study to identify barriers to fair housing choice. This analysis of impediments to fair housing began in the spring of 2020 with a community engagement component to better understand the challenges faced by tenants.

This effort represents a regional commitment to take substantial actions to promote fair housing choice and ensure that housing markets are devoid of discrimination.

NEXT STEPS:

The analysis is still underway and will be presented to PlanRVA during 2021. The findings of the report will deepen the region’s understanding of inequity barriers within housing while also providing a snapshot of where discrimination is most acute. Such a diagnosis will be crucial for striving towards equity in housing and examining where the needs are greatest.

Completed Solutions

Goal 2

PROGRESS MADE:

PHA launched the Housing Resource Line on September 1st as a centralized service to connect residents with their housing needs. Rather than be restricted to homeownership, the HRL covers all housing needs that are outside of homelessness, including: evictions, legal support, homeownership, foreclosure prevention, home repairs, and more.

The HRL fields over 500 calls per month and has helped to connect residents with over $90,000 in financial assistance.

NEXT STEPS:

PHA will continue to operate and expand the HRL to meet the rapidly changing needs of residents in the region.

Goal 4

PROGRESS MADE:

project:HOMES purchased Bermuda Estates in September, an aging manufactured home community in need of repairs. Under project:HOMES ownership, work will be done to create a new prototype for quality manufactured homes, in addition to park improvements such as increased lighting, road repairs, and updating the sewage and water systems.

Project:HOMES also expanded its Mobile Home Repair program, helping to make 7 mobile home repairs during 2020.

NEXT STEPS:

Over the next three years, project:HOMES plans to replace the current Bermuda Estates units with a model unit that appreciates over time rather than depreciates. PHA will partner with project:HOMES on ensuring that plans and decisions for the park’s future are equitably made by providing community engagement services.

Goal 5

PROGRESS MADE:

PHA helped to select Area Congregations Together in Service (ACTS) as the regional entity to distribute the Virginia Rent and Mortgage Relief Program for the Richmond region, which provided over $4 million to residents impacted by the pandemic.

After an RFP process, PHA also selected ACTS to be the regional entity for an Emergency Financial Assistance fund that would be supported by both private and public partners. Over $5 million of private and public funding was allocated to ACTS so that the region’s residents would have sustained stability in their housing.

NEXT STEPS:

Many of these funds were brought about by the conditions of the health crisis. The goal is to demonstrate the need for annual, persistent funding for housing instability. PHA will work with local governments, leveraging the real-time data from the Housing Resource Line, to illustrate the benefits to continued stability funds.

Resource Solutions

PROGRESS MADE:

Chesterfield County has designated revitalization zones that are accompanied by incentives for investment and development. As a part of the county’s Northern Jefferson Davis Revitalization Incentive Program, developments can receive a tax abatement equal to 80% of the increase in real estate taxes paid. This amount trails off after 7 years to 60% and then to 40% after 8 years. In the tenth and final year of the agreement, the development receives an abatement equal to 20% of the increase in real estate taxes paid.

NEXT STEPS:

PHA will work with Chesterfield to identify more sections throughout the county that could be designated as revitalization areas and thus be eligible for this incentive program, such as the corridors outlined in the Commercial Shopping Centers report. It will be important to ensure that affordability is a strong component of future developments that benefit from the program.

PROGRESS MADE:

HB 810 required the creation of a task force to explore the feasibility of administering a Virginia Housing Opportunity Tax Credit Program. This program would operate in tandem with the federal housing tax credit program. The task force drafted a report that estimated the benefits of a potential state program at over 700 affordable units annually and $340 million in state gross domestic product.

NEXT STEPS:

PHA and other housing stakeholders will support continued efforts and potential legislation that could lead to the adoption of a state tax credit program. The Task Force is slated to continue meeting to flesh out the details and priorities of legislation during the 2021 General Assembly session.

PROGRESS MADE:

Local governments in the region who are entitlement fund recipients have made a concerted effort to allocate federal resources towards housing efforts. For example, Chesterfield County’s Department of Community Enhancement has shifted its focus towards housing related projects in recent years. 80 percent of Chesterfield’s FY21 budget funding is geared towards affordable housing. This represents a 162% increase in funding for affordable housing since FY2016.

Henrico County has spent 66% of its federal funds on housing related projects over the last two years, with the remaining 34% going towards public service efforts, homeless services, and public facilities.

The City of Richmond’s FY21 fiscal plan represents a continued investment in housing and revitalization efforts that seek to create more affordable units.

NEXT STEPS:

PHA and stakeholders will continue to work with the region’s local governments to support public investments in housing. Next steps will focus on leveraging general fund revenues to support non-development services so that federal funds can be focused on affordable housing development.

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