Next Steps for Housing Virginia’s Rural Housing Initiative

In November of last year, Housing Virginia released “Meeting Housing Needs in Rural Virginia: Trends, Needs, Gaps, and Solutions,” a report created in partnership with USDA-Rural Development, BB&T, and VCDC. This report analyzed data on housing conditions, demographics, changing economies, and real estate markets in rural areas across the state.

 

Now, Housing Virginia is moving into the second phase of this initiative, which will focus on direct action to address the needs and gaps.

 

Next Step 1: Rural Housing Solutions Task Force

 

Housing Virginia identified several policy options to address these challenges and recommends that a task force representing a variety of stakeholders be formed to examine the housing needs and offer solutions. Because most of the challenges outlined in the report require an expansion or re-programming of resources in order to address them, Housing Virginia has made a special effort to include the agencies responsible for administering funding and programs related to rural housing.

 

This Solutions Group will meet several times in the spring. Each meeting will address one or two of the issue groupings for which recommendations have been made, and participants will discuss and assess opportunities for refocus of existing programs, creation of new initiatives, and identification of new or reprogrammed resources. Each meeting will be open to key stakeholders outside of the Solutions Group in order to allow for additional input to topics relevant to our on-the-ground partners. You can expect a final report that includes recommendations to the Virginia Housing Commission as well as any programmatic decisions from the Solutions Group this summer.

 

Next Step 2: Building the Capacity of Rural Housing Providers

 

Housing Virginia will work with up to eight rural housing providers over the next six months to create stronger support networks for the work they do in their communities. This effort will include one-on-one technical assistance, staff and Board training, as well as the opportunity for key staff from these agencies to interact and share experiences and advice.

 

The technical support will involve an opening retreat for organization leaders, community power mapping to enhance networks of local decision makers, and community engagement training.