AFFORDABLE HOUSING STUDY
The League of Women Voters is nonpartisan, and after study, Public Policy Positions are adopted and the basis for advocacy in the public interest. The League can only conduct advocacy activities for positions that have been studied and adopted. To adopt a policy position, the League conducts in-depth issue studies. Issue Study Committees can be created both at the LWV-Virginia and the Local League levels.
LWV-Prince William-Fauquier Area Affordable Housing Study
Local Leagues carry on public policy advocacy in their geographic areas, conducting issue studies and adopting Local League Policy Positions. Local Leagues may adopt Virginia State and National Positions for Action at the local level, as appropriate, if they do not have the human or financial resources to study and create separate similar positions.
The LWV-Prince William-Fauquier Area League has established a Study Committee on Affordable Housing in Prince William and Fauquier Counties. The Committee is preparing a report for the general membership, including a recommended position. The Committee will present the report to the General Membership for consensus consideration.
LWV-Virginia Affordable Housing Study
For the 2019-2021 Biennium Issue Study, Delegate consensus at the May 17-19, 2019 Convention supported conducting an Affordable Housing as a State-level policy study. In addition to the Group’s research and study, and outreach review to Local Leagues (14), the Study Group conducted tutorial reviews throughout the development process and in a Breakout Session at the 209 Workshop and the 2020 Council Meeting, and a Study Position Caucuses at the May 20-21, 2021 Convention. 2021 Convention Delegates voted unanimously in the Closing Plenary to the Study Group’s proposed Affordable Public Policy Position. The Study Committee membership included a volunteer from each of the 10 Local Leagues, including the LWV-Prince William-Fauquier Area League.
• Position in Brief
The League of Women Voters of Virginia supports State funding mechanisms and laws/policies that increase the supply of and equal access to safe, quality, affordable housing for all Virginians.
• Position in Full
The League supports funding mechanisms that increase the supply of and equal access to affordable housing and to help people maintain their housing. These include, but are not limited to:
1) The Virginia Housing Trust Program, administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), which provides low or no interest loans to develop and preserve affordable housing and provide grants to reduce and prevent homelessness.
2) Permanent Supportive Housing, administered by the Virginia Department of Behavioral and Development Services, which provides rental assistance and support services, which provides rental assistance and support services to individuals with serious mental illness who are either chronically homeless, discharged from State hospitals or unstably housed and frequent users of health and criminal justice systems.
3) Homeless programs ad services through DHCD that are targeted at reducing and preventing homelessness and getting people into permanent housing a quickly as possible.
4) Eviction Prevention/Diversion Programs through DHCD that would provide short-term rental assistance ad housing stabilization services for households who are behind on their rent and in danger of eviction.
5) A State Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) Program as a companion to the Federal LIHTC Program, which has been the primary Federal funding source for the development and preservation of affordable rental housing. Investors in developments receive tax credits that provide developers equity in a project. A companion State LIHTC would add additional equity to the project and could potentially target households at very low incomes.
6) A State-funded Housing Choice Voucher (HCV), to supplement the underfunded and oversubscribed Federal HCV program, where the low-income household pays 30% of its income for rent, and the remainder is paid by the voucher.
The League also supports laws and regulations/policies that ensure equal access to affordable housing, remove barriers to the creation of affordable housing, and help people stay in their housing. Examples are:
1) Ensuring tenants who hold a Housing Choice Voucher equal access to a apartment where they choose to live by requiring landlords who own four or more units to accept voucher holders if they meet the same rental criteria as other prospective tenants, provided their tenancy is approved in 15 days.
2) Through State enabling legislation, allowing all localities in Virginia the right to adopt mandatory inclusionary zoning ordinances that provide incentive to developers to add affordable housing units I their multi-family projects.
3) Providing more tenant protections in State law to help tenants maintain their housing that include measures such as capping late fees and extending pay or quit time periods.
4) Mitigating the impact of evictions with State laws allowing an automatic expungement of an eviction from a record if the case is dismissed and setting a reasonable timeframe for expunging a record in all evictions.