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    Document Summary
    - Report Published -

    Report Document No. 33
    View PDF Version*

    Document Title
    Virginia Housing Commission 2015 Annual Report

    Virginia Housing Commission

    Enabling Authority
    30-261 (B.)

    Executive Summary
    The Virginia Housing Commission was established 45 years ago by the Virginia legislature to study housing-related issues and create legislative, regulatory, and creative solutions to the Commonwealth’s housing needs. It remains a vital and active Commission, forming legislative solutions to improve housing and living conditions in the Commonwealth.

    During the 2015 interim the Commission chose to put strong focus on blight eradication; national speakers, as well as local experts and local government representatives gave their opinions and input to the Commission. “Land banking,” a tool used throughout the country, was one mechanism chosen by the Commission to combat blight, because it creates an entity dedicated to the purchase, assembly, rehabilitation, and distribution of previously undesirable land. Both rural and urban areas, including the cities of Danville and Richmond, are in favor of using land banks. Legislation allowing localities the permissive ability to create a land bank authority was approved by the Commission to be presented to the 2016 General Assembly.

    The much-studied topic of the Housing Trust Fund (SJ 235, J. Watkins, 2015) was another area the Commission emphasized again this year. The Commission heard from the Center for Housing Research at Virginia Tech about the far-reaching economic impact of the Housing Trust Fund on the Commonwealth’s economy, and unanimously endorsed legislation that would set a threshold amount for the state coffers to collect and then dedicate 20% of the excess amount of the recordation tax to the Housing Trust Fund. The need for a dedicated funding source for the Housing Trust Fund was found to be great, and members of the Commission in the House and Senate will carry the bi-partisan legislation.

    Additional areas of study included the amendment of the Fair Housing Law as it relates to veterans and as it relates to sexual orientation. Stalking and the effect on rental agreements was studied. Recurrent flooding as it applies to home buyers was identified as an issue; the Commission reviewed a non-legislative solution crafted by the Virginia Housing Development Authority, which would provide information and training to first-time home buyers on the topic of flooding and flood insurance. The Commission also discussed making information available to home buyers about abandoned oil tanks and septic systems, using information held by localities.

    Several in-depth meetings were dedicated to learning about ex-offenders and housing need. No legislation was proposed for this session.

    Legislation was endorsed to add information about asbestos safety when asbestos removers get their permits.

    As building code issues are frequently addressed by the Commission, bedbug eradication in buildings with adjoining walls was discussed. The issue will remain with the Commission into the next interim.

    This year the workload of the Commission was divided into three workgroups: Neighborhood Transitions and Residential Land Use, Affordable Housing and Real Estate Law, and Housing and Environmental Standards. Workgroups are formed by Commission members with stakeholders from entities such as the Realtor Association, the Virginia Homebuilders, nonprofit groups, mortgage lenders, local government, and others. Workgroups study issues, hear speakers (representing different perspectives on issues), and decide which issues should be heard by the full Commission.

    Full Commission meetings were dedicated to topics of importance to the Commission, such as the economic and housing forecast, presented by a speaker from the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.

    Summaries for all meetings are available online, and a Twitter feed with current housing articles appears on the Housing Commission website.

    The Virginia Housing Commission staff actively follows all housing legislation during the legislative session to determine the work plan for the following interim; meetings of the Commission for 2016 will resume after the conclusion of the legislative session.