Unpacking the HB854 Statewide Housing Study
Over the coming months, we’ll use The FWD and our social media to break down all 30 chapters of the report into quick digestible bites. We hope this content will give you a full understanding of the study’s findings without needing to read all 80,000 words across 400-plus pages.
Passed by the General Assembly in 2020, H.B. 854 asked the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) and Virginia Housing to report on the state of housing in the Commonwealth. A diverse group of housing practitioners from across the state convened to investigate the state’s housing needs, evaluate the impact of current initiatives, and propose new recommendations for increasing housing opportunities for all Virginians.
HB854 Statewide Housing Study: Current Efforts, Future Needs, New Strategies is the culmination of this effort. The report was recently delivered to lawmakers and is now publicly available both as an interactive website and a PDF.
The findings and recommendations in the report are the product of nearly two years of collaboration by government, private sector, nonprofit, academic, and community stakeholders. Along with a Stakeholder Advisory Group of 38 diverse experts, assembled per the bill’s requirements, engagement also included a statewide provider survey with more than 400 responses, in-depth focus groups, and interviews with policy experts based throughout the country.
In the report, you will find over 150 data visualizations explaining Virginia’s housing trends and needs, direct feedback from housing practitioners, and analysis of 32 state housing programs. These findings support more than 50 policy recommendations to satisfy the policy areas outlined in HB854:
- Opportunities to improve current housing programs to better meet changing needs,
- Developing a new state-funded rental assistance program modeled on the federal Housing Choice Voucher program,
- Encouraging the reduction of utility costs in affordable housing with coordinated investments in energy efficiency and household utility assistance,
- Increasing tools available to localities to reduce property tax burdens on housing that serves low-income Virginians, and
- Expanding ongoing state efforts to leverage bond financing to create and preserve affordable rental housing.
Although not specifically included in the bill, the Stakeholder Advisory Group added racial equity in housing as an additional policy area early in the report process. The study uses this important lens throughout all parts, but a standalone chapter is included with specific recommendations to overcome systemic barriers and improve housing outcomes for Black and brown Virginians.
HousingForward Virginia staff are grateful to our partners at DHCD and Virginia Housing for the opportunity to lead the data and policy research components of this study. We are also thankful to every stakeholder, survey respondent, and focus group member who contributed their knowledge to the report.
We hope this new resource will be used by policymakers, providers, and others to achieve a future where every Virginian has a safe, secure, and affordable place they call home.