The Virginia General Assembly is racing toward adjournment in two weeks while still working through a record number of bills. Housing bills have figured prominently in the GA’s business this session with many substantive issues still awaiting final action in either house. Of note, the Senate appears poised to pass Del. Jeff Bourne’s (D-Richmond) “source of income” bill that would amend Virginia’s Fair Housing Law and prohibit landlord’s from rejecting an applicant based upon their source of income. The most significant impact would be that housing choice voucher holders would have many more options available to them. Currently, many apartment communities will not accept vouchers and this has reduced housing choice and contributed to the concentration of vouchers in high poverty neighborhoods.
Perhaps the most significant housing related legislation is in the budget. Governor Ralph Northam recommended an historic increase in funding for the Virginia Housing Trust Fund. His budget requested $84 million for the fund – $14m in the current year and then $30m in FY21 and $40m in FY 22. The House has adopted those recommendations while the Senate cut $10m in FY22. Conferences will resolve the difference. Regardless, this will represent a significant advance in state support for affordable housing and vault Virginia into the top tier of state housing trust funds. A big “thank you” to the Governor and the legislators that supported this funding increase. The budget also includes support for eviction prevention as well as housing assistance funds for persons with developmental disabilities.
Among other bills we’re watching: a requirement that mobile home park owners provide notice to DHCD of their intent to sell; direction to DHCD to study and develop recommendations for a Virginia affordable housing credit that could be a companion to the federal program; several tweaks to Virginia’s Landlord Tenant Act that would provide help to tenants facing eviction, and many others. You can keep up with housing bills using the bill tracker at the Virginia Housing Alliance.