As we all know, Virginia’s housing needs are significant, especially for supportive and affordable housing. However, through careful planning, strong partnerships, and perseverance, the Virginia Housing Development Authority is making positive impacts for Virginia’s most vulnerable population — those experiencing homelessness.
The Commonwealth is a leader in addressing homelessness, anchored by the model referred to as rapid re-housing. Having a place to call home is a fundamental building block and through this model, individuals and families experiencing homelessness are connected with permanent housing as quickly as possible. Once safely housed, residents can be provided with wrap around services necessary to maintain housing and connect with the community.
Also of note is the tremendous burden that homelessness places on taxpayers, resulting in literally millions of dollars each year in emergency room visits, extended hospital stays, medical treatments, police intervention, and jail stays, and these expenses don’t include the cost to the individuals themselves. This is why VHDA has made addressing unmet rental needs of low-income and critical population’s one of its ongoing goals.
While homeless rates have fallen in Virginia in the past few years, VHDA realizes that there is still work to be done. Studies have shown that – in practice and not just in theory – providing people experiencing homelessness with permanent supportive housing saves taxpayers money and increases the well-being of the people being served. Also, housing stability has been shown to decrease emergency room visits while increasing regular medical attention, access to treatment, and recuperation. VHDA understands that collaborations and partnerships are vital to conquering housing issues throughout the Commonwealth.
VHDA serves a critical role in the creation of supportive housing units in the Commonwealth of Virginia. In the past, VHDA has provided pre-development funds to assist non-profit organizations with creating permanent supportive housing options, and VHDA’s financing through the Housing Credit program and through SPARC funding has allowed organizations to obtain the necessary capital to take a project from concept to reality. Since 2014, VHDA has partnered to assist local communities with increasing their capacity to prevent and end homelessness. The partnership was designed to support the AmeriCorps program which places volunteers in local continuums of care (CoC) and planning groups throughout Virginia.
VHDA along with their partners are now beginning to tackle the needs of persons with serious mental illness, a population we know comprises a large portion of the homeless population. VHDA has provided multiple grant making opportunities, which include evaluation of coordinated entry systems to the development of a Homeless Management Information System that provides much needed data reporting and spans across several compliance systems. VHDA, in partnership with other key state and local stakeholders, supported the effort that led to Virginia functionally ending Veteran’s homelessness.
Last but certainly not least, VHDA has developed a number of tools to help the homeless. For example, VirgininaHousingSearch.com is a program to help individuals and families find housing, and the renter education programs are designed to help people maintain housing and reduce recidivism. VHDA is proud to partner with agencies to further best practices in this arena, and we understand the vital role our partners play in furthering the fight. VHDA will continue to be a strategic partner in statewide efforts to address homelessness in the Commonwealth and we look forward to opportunities to collaborate and leverage vital resources needed to make a difference. On behalf of VHDA, we thank all of the partners here for your efforts.