Housing Virginia will be holding our final rural housing network meeting on Tuesday, August 30th in Blackstone, VA hosted by the Southside Virginia Association of REALTORS®. Be sure not to miss it – we will be discussing housing and population trends in the rural areas of Central and Southside Virginia. Following the presentation, all attendees will engage in a discussion about the most urgent housing needs and gaps that they see daily in their work.
So far, Housing Virginia has held four forums – in Martinsville, Abingdon, Warrenton, and Gloucester in partnership with local REALTORS® Associations. The contents of the group discussions about urgent regional needs and gaps will shape the final product: a set of housing policy recommendations and action plan for rural housing in Virginia. this report will be released at the Governor’s Housing Conference on November 16-18 in Roanoke.
The demographic and housing data, collected by Housing Virginia from the American Community Survey and Census Data, is already beginning to show a spectrum of needs depending on the region.
The Southwest, lower Shenandoah Valley, and Southside regions of the state were heavily impacted by the loss of manufacturing jobs – an economic shift that has trickled down to affect housing affordability in these areas. Although there has been a surge in new jobs created in the education and healthcare sectors, more often than not those who qualified for manufacturing jobs do not have the education or skill sets required for a job in education or healthcare. This results in a mismatch between the employable population and the available jobs – and a growing population of people who struggle to pay bills and maintain a credit rating that will qualify them for a loan to purchase a home.
In the Northern and Upper Shenandoah Valley areas, the high cost of land and zoning restrictions prove to be a more pressing issue. Because the land is more expensive, builders are less likely to invest in the smaller, affordable homes that both seniors and millennials are seeking. Instead, the trend to produce larger homes has continued which fails to meet the needs of downsizing seniors or Millennials entering the market.
Housing Virginia will incorporate all of this input, along with the discussion in Blackstone, into a comprehensive policy recommendation and action plan for the state. This plan will be a crucial tool for policymakers to better be able to serve their rural communities and address the gaps and needs we have found. You can find all of the presentations and discussion summaries here. Housing Virginia has also prepared a Directory of rural housing providers that is available on the website.
If you are interested in staying up-to-date with our rural housing initiative by joining the mailing list or adding your organization to the directory, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.