Housing Virginia E-News: Focus on Richmond   
May, 2011

George Mason Study Measures the Positive Impact of Affordable Housing   

One of the major obstacles to the construction of new affordable housing is the fear of existing residents that less expensive and higher density housing nearby will have a negative impact on their property values and quality of life. This NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) attitude often results in strong opposition from neighborhood groups to housing different from their own.


This perception is strongly held, and driven by legitimate concern for safety and the family's large financial stake in their home. Most housing and real estate professionals understand that a well designed neighborhood can provide a variety of housing types and sizes with nearby commercial services and maintain desirable property values, yet citizen concerns remain strong.


The Partnership for Housing Affordability of the Greater Richmond Metropolitan Area, composed of private and public housing experts and representatives from area local governments, decided to conduct an objective and local analysis of citizen concerns about higher density and lower cost housing. George Mason University Center for Regional Analysis was contracted to provide an independent study of eleven higher density and lower priced developments in the Richmond metropolitan area and document their impact on surrounding single family neighborhoods.  


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Success at Affordable Housing Awareness Week

Pi Kappa Alpha VCU students Volunteer at Affordable Housing Awareness Week 


Bringing 500 volunteers to 40 job sites in the Richmond areas, Affordable Housing Awareness Week Richmond convened its fourth annual event in late April. Fifteen of  Richmond's non-profit housing providers joined together to host a variety of service projects and events that provide volunteers the opportunity to help build and repair homes, beautify neighborhoods and improve the quality of life for our neighbors in need. In the three previous years a total of over 1,600 volunteers joined to make difference in the lives of others.


Homeowner's Enhancement Guide: Henrico County's New Revitalization Tool 


In Henrico County there are approximately 35,000 single family homes that were constructed between 1945 and 1975.  This represents approximately 40% of all single family homes in the County.  Much of this housing is well built of quality materials such as brick and hard wood flooring.  The neighborhoods are conveniently located, have excellent schools and mature trees.  These neighborhoods also represent a very substantial stock of affordable housing for working families.  Given the age, size, and configuration of many of these homes, they are in need of improvements. 


The County of Henrico Department of Community Revitalization, working with Frazier Associates, developed the Homeowner's Enhancement Guide as a means of maintaining the stability and desirability of these affordable neighborhoods.  The Homeowner's Enhancement Guide is a how-to handbook intended for homeowners and prospective purchasers of older homes, which may be in need of modernization and enhancement.  The Guide serves as a tool that assists in the processes of adding character, modernizing, and improving the livability of mature homes through improvements at various ranges of cost. 


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Community Leaders Experience"Walking in Their Shoes"

"Walking in Their Shoes" Participants eat lunch at St. Paul's Episcopal Church

As part of Affordable Housing Awareness Week, local banking executives became families on the verge of foreclosure and homelessness.  A suburban pastor and his congregants became homeless veterans dealing with medical and psychological issues.  Four women with diverse leadership experiences in philanthropy and media visited local shelters to learn more about services for women experiencing a housing crisis. 


Each of the 13 participants in "Walking in their Shoes" took on the story of a person in crisis.  They worked in teams to access services that would lead to increased housing stability.  Some of these services were simulated as part of the experience. One "real" experience was eating lunch with people experiencing homelessness at a downtown congregation.  

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Partnership for Housing Affordability  Shifts Focus to Preservation and Revitalization

Laura Lafayette
  • Chief Executive Officer of the Richmond Association of REALTORS® and the Central Virginia Regional Multiple Listing Service
  • Executive Director of the Partnership for Housing Affordability
  • Executive Committee and Board of Directors of Richmond Metropolitan Habitat for Humanity, the Local Advisory Committee of Virginia LISC, and the Board of Directors of the Better Housing Coalition.
  • Vice Chair on the Housing Virginia Board

In January of 2004, the Richmond Association of REALTORS® partnered with representatives of housing non-profits, the business community, and local governments to launch the Partnership for Workforce Housing.  Our goal in those early years was to ensure that the creation and maintenance of an adequate supply of workforce housing was a public policy priority in the Richmond region. 


Recognizing that an adequate supply (or lack) of workforce housing could affect the region's economic vitality; we enlisted the corporate sector to help convince the public sector that housing needed to be a top priority.  In short, the Partnership's efforts were not designed to put housing product on the ground; but rather, to create an environment in which both non-profit and for-profit builders could meet the region's workforce housing challenges.  And from 2004 - 2007, much of the Partnership's efforts focused on local land use and zoning policies, e.g., proffers, minimum lot sizes, etc., that contributed to the escalating costs of new home construction-costs that priced these homes beyond the reach of many area residents.


But then two things happened that changed the focus of the Partnership.  One, in working with other housing non-profits, we recognized the need to expand our conversation, our thoughts, our efforts.  So we changed our name to the Partnership for Housing Affordability and began a more concentrated effort to raise awareness about the full gamut of housing needs from homeless to homeownership.  The second shift was the housing market itself.  As home sales slowed and home prices turned downward, it became apparent that the preservation of existing housing stock deserved as much attention as the issues surrounding new construction.


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In This Issue
Success at Affordable Housing Awareness Week
Homeowner's Enhancement Guide Provides Important New Revitalization Tool
Community Leaders Experience "Walking in Their Shoes"
Partnership for Housing Affordability Shifts Focus to Preservation and Revitalization
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Virginia Association of Housing Counselors, 2011 Annual Spring Conference and Certification, "Building Partnerships for Better Housing" - May 1-5, 2011  


Roanoke Regional Housing Network - Regional Symposium - May 4, 2011  


Virginia Housing Coalition Annual Awards Dinner and the VHC Information Service Second Annual Summer Symposium, Omni Richmond Hotel - June 23, 2011


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