The FWD #159 • 478 Words
Grants to 21 Planning District Commissions will support efforts to build more housing over the next three years.
Virginia Housing recently awarded $40 million in grants to the 21 Planning District Commissions (PDCs) in the Commonwealth. Virginia’s PDCs are a quasi-governmental network responsible for planning and coordinating at a regional level. The authority’s recent 2025 Strategic Plan included the goal to support the existing housing delivery network to increase affordable housing. Virginia Housing developed the new grant program that puts PDCs front and center at administering and coordinating new grant funding to build affordable housing.
Ranging from awards of $1 million to $3 million, each PDC will have an opportunity to tailor the funding to suit their needs, whether they be rental, homeownership, low-interest loans or grants. The focus is on new units and the timeline is tight—a “36-month intensive process” that includes milestones, guidance and support from Virginia Housing. The authority envisions creating voluntary work groups of PDCs who can share information and learn from one another. The goal of the program is to increase capacity at the regional level for affordable housing development and support.
Virginia Housing has an ongoing commitment to taking the net revenue from its REACH loan program and to offer grant opportunities with a portion of that funding. They have long partnered with PDCs on housing analysis and data, to assist PDCs in better understanding their local housing markets and potential housing solutions. This is the first time in recent memory that the authority has supported the PDCs with capital funding for projects.
Virginia Housing moved quickly to announce, award, and disburse the funds over the last few months. They hope that this funding will contribute to “shovel ready” projects in need of gap financing in the form of grants or loans. One PDC has indicated an interest in seeding a regional housing trust fund with these resources, while another is thinking of pairing the grant with the Acquire Renovate Sell (ARS) program to create a revolving loan for a homeownership pipeline.
Executive Director David Blount of the Virginia Association of Planning District Commissions says, “This new initiative presents a great opportunity for PDCs to develop new collaborations in the housing arena, or to strengthen those they may already have. It’s a win-win for creating additional affordable units and for solutions that are regional in nature.”
According to Chris Thompson, Director of Strategic Housing at Virginia Housing, “Grant opportunities during COVID were the first broad-based effort” on the part of the authority to “support our network.” He considers this PDC opportunity a continuation of that type of support. Thompson and his team at Virginia Housing intend to keep an eye on the results of this funding and look for ways to improve. For Thompson, this grant “puts the PDCs in the driver’s seat for setting housing priorities and policies in their region.”