Virginia receives public housing funding to address affordable housing crisis

Published: Feb. 22, 2023 at 5:30 PM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - More federal funding is coming to Roanoke and 25 other localities in Virginia to help address public housing needs. All of it will go toward projects that are already up and running.

More than $4.8 million is going toward renovating and upgrading public housing, like replacing the windows at Melrose Towers.

The vice president of operations at Roanoke’s Redevelopment and Housing Authority explained that because Roanoke is facing an affordable housing shortage, it’s important to maintain existing properties.

“One aspect of affordable housing is making sure there’s enough of it by keeping the stock of affordable housing that’s present now, available and in use,” Joel Shank said.

US Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner (both D-VA) announced more than $54 million is going toward the Commonwealth’s Capital Fund. Shank explained that money will go toward renovation projects at public housing units.

“We have a long list of what we need to do at our properties,” Shank said. “About 90% of our public housing units are 50 years or older.”

This year’s Capital Fund allocation for Roanoke is $100,000 more than last year’s allotment.

“The amount was very welcome,” Shank said. “It’ll hopefully cover probably six or eight major projects, and then it helps us with some smaller things that we were having to plan.”

$4,824,916 is going to Roanoke’s housing authority, $1,189,457 is going to Lynchburg’s housing authority and $1,539,679 is going to Danville’s housing authority.

Shank explained the increased funding is helping offset inflation, which has pushed contracting costs up by 50-75%.

“We get a little sticker shock around around here sometimes,” Shank said. “You’re getting money that doesn’t go as far as it would have three or four years ago, but it’s certainly very helpful to kind of keep us where we would be.”

The funding comes as Roanoke’s latest affordable housing survey revealed one in five people live in poverty.

One in five people are living in poverty
One in five people are living in poverty(WDBJ7)

“The numbers were a little bit surprising in terms of the poverty levels,” Roanoke’s community resources administrator Keith Holland said.

City leaders are working to address the 3,569 affordable unit shortage with the Home-ARP Allocation Plan.

“There are folks out there having jobs, they’re just having difficulty meeting some of the rent requirements or rent demands that we’re seeing in the community,” Holland said.

The city has $2.4 million to spend on affordable housing
The city has $2.4 million to spend on affordable housing(WDBJ7)

The city’s housing survey also revealed rent in Roanoke is increasing faster than the national average, with a 15% increase each year.