The last two weeks of the 2015 General Assembly turned very positive for affordable housing. On Monday, the budget conferees released a report that will provide $8 million to the Housing Trust Fund and $1 million for rapid re-housing.
The funding for the HTF was a surprise to advocates who have been restrained during the session regarding new funding for the Fund this session. The bleak revenue forecasts indicated that it would be very challenging to restore the funds that were cut in 2014. However, during the last several weeks, the Governor provided updated and improved revenue forecasts that gave the conferees more monies to work with.
Bob Newman, President of the Virginia Housing Coalition, noted, “Our membership is elated and thankful to the members of the General Assembly and the Governor for their ongoing support for the Trust Fund. This means that these resources will immediately be available to help create new housing opportunities across Virginia. We expect that up to a thousand new homes could be supported with this funding. I also want to thank housing advocates across the state who have been persistent and effective in educating our elected officials about the importance of this resource.”
At the same time, the budget report also increases funds for rapid re-housing from the $500,000 that was in both the House and Senate versions up to $1 million. Half of these funds will be directed at homeless veterans with the balance unrestricted.
The House and Senate also appear poised to approve a resolution sponsored by Senator John Watkins (R-Chesterfield) that directs the Housing Commission to study options for a dedicated source of permanent support for the Housing Trust Fund. The Commission will carry out this work during the summer and fall of 2015 and make recommendations back to the GA for the 2016 session.