Regional Public Hearings-Budget Amendments

January 3, 2019

The Virginia House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Finance Committee will hold joint public hearings January 3 across the Commonwealth to hear testimony on the proposed amendments to the 2018-2020 biennial state budget. The hearing for NoVA will be held at the Fairfax County Government Center beginning at 10 AM. Please see information about the hearing and registration here.

The purpose of the hearings is to receive comments on the proposed budget amendments, which include the following:

●  A $19M increase to 2018-2020 Biennium Budget for the Virginia Housing Trust Fund. The amendment would add $14.5M from the General Fund to the base $5.5M, equaling an appropriation of $20M in 2019, and would add $4.5M from the General Fund to the base $5.5M, equaling an appropriation of $10M in 2020. See link.
●  A $2 million operating budget amendment to create an additional 150 Permanent Supportive Housing units for individuals with serious mental illness transitioning back to their communities from the state hospital system.  See link.

●   $104, 050 for the VA Department of Housing and Community Development in 2020 to create a job to develop and implement eviction diversion programs. See link.
●   $2.6 million in 2020 for the Virginia State Bar to provide legal aid services for low-income tenants facing housing eviction cases. See link

We hope that many of you will sign up on Jan 3 to testify, as some members of the GA have already announced their opposition to approving these amendments, and there are philosophical differences among legislators about how to spend expected budget surpluses. Many of you can speak from your professional experience or work as citizen advocates, but we have also included some of the talking points created for our successful petition to the Governor:

●  Housing is the platform upon which individuals and households achieve self-sufficiency. Research tells us that place matters, and that the quality and affordability of housing can impact a person’s health, a family’s stability and a community’s economic resilience. These are issues that matter to Virginians.    
●    For every 100 low-income households in the Commonwealth, there are only 37 housing units available to them that are affordable. These households include our seniors and people with disabilities, our workforce, young families and new graduates. From the rural communities in southwest Virginia to the metro areas of Northern Virginia-Richmond-Norfolk, thousands of people struggle to afford housing based on their incomes. ●   Census data from 1960 – 2014 finds that inflation-adjusted rents rose by 64%. But real household incomes only increased by 18%.
●   The tragedy of evictions plagues our state, with three cities in Virginia on the top ten list of evictions nationwide. 
●   In a single year, the average state contribution to housing trust funds is $16.45 million. Virginia’s allocation is $5 million, roughly 70 percent below average.

We have a unique opportunity this year to substantially increase the state housing trust fund – resources that many of our NoVA affordable housing providers use to lower development costs to create more deeply subsidized units and to support permanent supportive housing units. Let’s be sure that members of these important ‘money’ committees hear our support for housing loud and clear!