VA General Assembly Eliminates Funding for Housing Trust Fund
The Senate of Virginia passed a budget that eliminated funding for the Virginia Housing Trust Fund ($4 million in each year of the biennium). The Senate also cut out $1 million per year in Rapid Re-housing funds for reducing homelessness. The Senate budget will now go back to the House where it is expected to quickly pass and then on to the Governor’s desk. The Governor can propose amendments, but the June 30 budget deadline is less than two weeks away.
The fast moving developments on the budget were set in motion when Senator Phil Puckett (D-Russell Co.) resigned last week, shifting control of the Senate to Republicans. At the same time, weak revenue collections in May prompted calls for significant cuts to the Senate plan that had been adopted during the session earlier this year.
If revenues pick up for the balance of the year, there is a possibility that some cuts could be restored in the 2015 session. After a four year campaign that saw the Housing Trust Fund created and funded in the last biennium, housing advocates are bitterly disappointed at this development. The Coalition is reaching out to the Governor to ask him to restore the HTF, and we will be asking advocates to express their disappointment to our legislators in both the Senate and the House. Stay tuned.
In an ironic development, our neighboring state, North Carolina, is poised to approve $6.8 million for a state housing trust fund this week. The Housing Wage in Virginia (income needed to afford the typical apartment) is $20.93 – that’s the highest in the Southeast (the housing wage in Northern Virginia is $28.00). In North Carolina it’s $14.37. We still have much work to do in educating our elected officials in the Commonwealth!