Looking Backward 2023

The FWD #200 • 602 Words

HousingForward made big moves all year long.

Last year, we worked together with you to make some remarkable strides in addressing housing challenges across the state. From launching innovative new tools to providing crucial technical assistance, our efforts are reshaping Virginia’s housing landscape. Let’s go back and explore what we accomplished together.

Virginia Zoning Atlas launched

The Virginia Zoning Atlas is a breakthrough in housing policy analysis, seeking to compile and map zoning policies from all of Virginia’s 95 counties, 38 independent cities, and 190 towns into one statewide resource. Part of the new ZONED IN zoning education initiative, the first completed region of the Atlas launched in Hampton Roads in fall 2023.

Once complete, Virginia will join dozens of other states currently mapping their zoning laws as part of the National Zoning Atlas project. Other teams are currently working to assemble the Northern Virginia and New River Valley regions, and HousingForward expects to begin work on the Richmond-Petersburg region later this year.

Comprehensive insights into local housing needs

We continue to be a major provider of market analysis and policy generation for local and regional housing assessments across Virginia. In 2023, we completed a study for Central Virginia PDC, and have another three in progress.

In all, 46 different localities are included in these assessments, which will serve as the foundation for subsequent new policy and program initiatives to support the creation of more affordable housing.

Some of the major focus areas for new policy initiatives policy recommendations in these studies include:

  • Attracting new housing development (including affordable housing) in rural areas.
  • Reforming local land use regulations to promote a diversity of housing options.
  • Designing campaigns to increase public awareness of local housing issues.
  • Supporting senior housing needs with new accessible options and aging-in-place strategies.
  • Securing local funding sources for housing to supplement state and federal grants.

Virginia’s first and only regional housing trust fund

For over a year, we assisted the New River Valley Regional Commission to develop the first regional housing trust fund (HTF) in Virginia. The fund, seeded with the PDC housing grant from Virginia Housing, launched in the summer of 2023 and made its first awards to support more than 100 new affordable housing units in September. We researched national best practices, interviewed managers of innovative HTFs from other states, designed sustainable funding models, and helped craft program guidelines.

Further east, we also helped the City of Virginia Beach develop a series of eight detailed policy solutions that address their current and projected affordable housing needs. These include a new housing trust fund, a housing assistance fund for workers in core local industries, and innovative public development models for mixed-income housing. HFV worked directly with staff leadership and members of City Council to develop these recommendations.

Spreading knowledge and building partnerships

Along with our previously-mentioned zoning engagements, we also spent much of 2023 regularly fulfilling requests from housing organizations and other groups to speak on affordable housing at meetings and events throughout the state. These opportunities allowed us to expand our impact, share insights, and forge new partnerships — all to strengthen HFV’s role as Virginia’s go-to objective expert on housing.

In all, we participated in at least one event each month, including multiple keynote presentations at major regional summits. We spent over a thousand miles on the road, dozens of hours on Zoom, and personally reached more than 500 people.

We can’t be everywhere at once, but if you’d like us to talk about housing in your community, drop us a note. Let’s keep working together so we can look back on even greater achievements one year from now.

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