Looking Backward on 2020

So much happened this year that it can sometimes feel like we had two years squeezed into one. Here’s a quick review of what HousingForward Virginia did in 2020.


COVID-19

In early 2020, the novel coronavirus seemed far away and easily avoidable. Then, in what felt like the blink of an eye, it changed everything. A threat that was expected to last a few months is now likely to last well into next year.

COVID-19 presents unprecedented challenges in housing and community development. Here’s how we responded—and continue to do so—to help our partners understand these challenges.

COVID-19 Toolkit

A housing data dashboard displaying case counts along with measures of housing and instability and economic status, plus results from a “pulse” survey about providers’ immediate response and needs in the face of the pandemic.

Most Viewed Resource: COVID-19 Toolkit

Published April 8th

942 email opens

2,286 pageviews

Joint Study with Virginia Housing Alliance

Phase 1 saw interviews with 23 non-profit providers in the Richmond Region about how COVID-19 has impacted their operations, their struggles, and their successes. Phase 2 is underway to broaden the geographic reach of the study.


New Name, New Look

Most read news item: Name Change

Published September 2nd

678 email opens

308 pageviews

In September, we rolled out our new name: HousingForward Virginia. The new name reflects what we do clearly: we equip advocates to advance affordable housing across Virginia. Along with this name change came a new brand, a refreshed website, and a new name for our popular weekly Microblog…


The FWD

It was a great year for our weekly blog. We hardly missed a week. Naturally, many of our posts covered the impacts of COVID-19 on housing in Virginia and across the country.

  • Posted 51 editions
  • Sent 121,484 emails
  • Read 626 times per week

Most Read FWD Post: #119 – Rent and Mortgage Relief

Published June 30th

1,068 email opens

291 pageviews


Events

The pandemic challenged one of our killer apps: our signature events, which bring housers together to learn, brainstorm, and network. Faced with the ongoing danger of large gatherings, we opted to go all-virtual.

April 1:

Land Banking in the Commonwealth

95 registered

A primer on Virginia’s nascent land bank infrastructure and how our communities can use these unique entities to improve their neighborhoods.

July 29:

ADUs: The Next (Little) Thing in Affordable Housing

175 registered

Inspired by Austin, TX’s Alley Flat Initiative, we brought in experts on the policy and design of Accessory Dwelling Units to see what might be possible in Virginia.

Watch Now

August – September:

#Lead2020: Lead-Safe Homes, Healthy Families

201 registered

The Virginia Poverty Law Center and Richmond City Health District brought us in to help educate about the dangers of lead hazards in Virginia’s homes, aiming to build a coalition that can work together to fully abate lead hazards in the Commonwealth.

Explore

November 17:

What’s Next for Housing After COVID-19?

144 registered

The day before the virtual Virginia Governor’s Housing Conference, we brought together a group of 30 housers to discuss everything from design to service delivery, and how the housing system can or should change after COVID-19.


Housing Studies

Luckily, the pandemic did not get much in the way of our housing needs assessments. We‘ve completed one study already, with another on the way in early 2021, and we began an exciting statewide study with Virginia Housing and DHCD.

George Washington Regional Commission

We conducted an assessment of housing needs in the City of Fredericksburg and Caroline, King George, Spotsylvania, and Stafford Counties. Working with a group of representatives from the localities and local organizations, we developed a menu of 42 detailed policy solutions aimed at bringing a range of new housing opportunities to the region.

H.B. 854 Statewide Housing Study

In March, shortly before the lockdown began, the Statehouse requested that Virginia Housing and DHCD conduct an assessment of the Commonwealth’s housing conditions, policies and programs. We were excited to be selected as the contractor for this work, and are currently conducting an initial survey of housing providers across Virginia.

This survey is your organization’s opportunity to provide meaningful feedback that will influence the future of housing policy in Virginia. The survey should take 20 to 30 minutes. You will be able to save the survey and come back later if you are not able to complete it in one sitting. It will remain online until December 31, 2020.

So far, we have 155 survey responses from 126 localities: 42 non-profit housing providers, 40 local governments, plus real estate professionals, builders, financial institutions, homelessness service providers, PHAs, and counselors.


Looking Forward

There’s plenty to be excited about in 2021. In addition to continuing updates to our toolkits, more posts from The FWD, and our regular events, we’re looking forward to…

New River Valley Housing Study

We assisted the New River Valley Regional Commission with another housing needs assessment, which the Commission is expected to release in early 2021.

Potomac Health Foundation Study

An interim report on the housing and health connection in PHF’s service area is on the way in January, with an exciting pilot program to follow in the Summer.

H.B. 854 Study

There’s a long way to go, and plenty of data to collect. Expect the completed report in Fall of 2021.

Signature Events

Our 2019 HousingX “un-conference” seems so far away now, but the innovative event series will return with more xChats in 2021. We hope to bring back the full HousingX event in 2022.


Support HousingForward Virginia

It’s not too late to make a contribution to HousingForward for 2020. During these times when funders are focusing primarily on direct services, it is that much harder to raise dollars for policy and research. But we know that you know, good policy and effective programs must be informed by good data. Your support is vital to us continuing our mission in 2021.

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