Study addressing impact of housing on Virginia economy released

virginiaA new study, Addressing the Impact of Housing for Virginia’s Economy, focused on Virginia’s housing sector and the links between housing and other key policy areas was released by state officials in November.

The independent report reveals that even though Virginia has made strides in bridging the affordable housing gap, particularly in functionally ending veteran homelessness, increasing state support for the Housing Trust Fund, and growing the number of permanent supportive housing units, the Commonwealth still has a shortage of housing that is affordable to a substantial share of households.

The findings indicate that Virginia needs to produce significant levels of new affordable housing to accommodate anticipated workforce growth. While this report was a statewide effort, it provides valuable information for area stakeholders and localities in the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission region. The Harrisonburg Metropolitan Statistical Area and the Staunton-Waynesboro Metropolitan Statistical Area fall into a category that reflects relatively lower housing costs and access to home ownership opportunities offset in some jurisdictions by high transportation costs or tight markets.  Report findings for rural communities like Bath, Highland and Rockbridge Counties show that opportunities for revitalization exist from demand for housing in towns, second-home markets often drive up housing costs for low-wage households, and the challenges of older structures, incomplete facilities, and vacant, abandoned housing create additional barriers.

Data specifically focused on areas within the CSPDC region includes:

  • A housing gap analysis that compared the number of households needing affordable housing to the number of available housing units, both for rental properties and homeownership properties in the Harrisonburg Metropolitan Statistical Area and the Staunton-Waynesboro Metropolitan Statistical Area was conducted.
  • Forecasts of future housing demand needed for new jobs being created in the CSPDC region was also part of the report.  The CSPDC region, referred to as the Staunton-Harrisonburg region in the report, will add 6,700 new jobs by 2024, requiring an additional 4,050 housing units to accommodate them.  Of the new households, an estimated 1,850 will be renters, with the largest increase in households needing single-family rental units.  It is expected the new workers will be young households early in their careers with different housing preferences and relatively lower incomes, impacting the types of housing that will be needed.  While the projected demand for homeownership generally aligns with the current housing stock, it will be more difficult for renters to locate affordable rental units.

The CSPDC has been assisting localities with exploring solutions to affordable housing challenges, and hosted a Regional Housing Summit and an event on Affordable Housing and Economic Development in 2017.  The newly released report provides additional data and key findings to assist in future planning efforts in the CSPDC region.

The complete report, commissioned by the Housing Policy Advisory Council, was written by academic experts from George Mason University, Virginia Commonwealth University, Virginia Tech, and the College of William and Mary.

The summary report and nine additional reports are available online at www.vchr.vt.edu/VirginiaHousingEconomicLinkages.

More information about the Housing Policy Advisory Council is available at www.virginiahousingpolicy.com.

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