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Virginia Housing Trust Fund awards $6M in Homeless Reduction Grants

dhcdPrograms at Mercy House and the Valley Community Services Board are among those receiving Homeless Reduction Grants through the Virginia Housing Trust Fund.

Mercy House was approved for a $200,000 grant for rental assistance to help families and youth experiencing homelessness access and maintain permanent housing, as well as for staff who will provide stabilization case management and specialized housing search and placement activities.

A $147,537 grant to the Valley Community Services Board will support planning for a project targeting unaccompanied LGBTQ+ homeless youth in the Valley Local Planning Group. The VCSB grant will help house LGBTQ+ youth experiencing homelessness and will also be used to provide trauma-informed care training to select staff to ongoing supportive services for youth.

Another regional project – an initiative from the Thomas Jefferson Coalition for the Homeless and Piedmont Housing Alliance and Virginia Supportive Housing to provide pre-development efforts in the repurposing of the Red Carpet Inn for permanent supportive housing – was approved for two $100,000 grants.

Gov. Ralph Northam today announced more than $6 million in Homeless Reduction Grants through the Virginia Housing Trust Fund for 38 projects throughout the Commonwealth, including the grants assisting Mercy House and VCSB.

The funding will advance 102 targeted efforts to reduce homelessness, which include rapid re-housing, support services for permanent supportive housing for the chronically homeless, and the pre-development of permanent supportive housing projects for individuals or families experiencing recurring homelessness.

“Housing affordability continues to be a challenge nationwide, and the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us in very stark terms how too many families are at risk of losing their homes,” Northam said. “As we continue to rebuild our economy, we must ensure our most vulnerable Virginians are able to recover and find stability. These grants will help add critical permanent supportive housing units to our stock and fund innovative efforts to reduce homelessness, right now as we weather this public health crisis and into the future.”

Northam and the General Assembly invested an historic $55 million in the Virginia Housing Trust Fund this fiscal year, and the governor’s budget proposal increases this funding to $70.7 million in the current year. VHTF provides financing for housing construction projects that create or preserve affordable housing units, reduce the cost of affordable housing, and increase homeownership.

This funding is a key source of financing for affordable housing initiatives that support moderate-and-low-income families, as well as Homeless Reduction Grants to provide rapid re-housing and longer-term housing solutions for individuals experiencing chronic homelessness.

“The Virginia Housing Trust Fund is a critical resource in our efforts to reduce homelessness and make safe and affordable housing more readily available,” Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball said. “This is an invaluable program for targeting our funds toward proven strategies to reduce homelessness and build stronger, more vibrant communities for all Virginians.”

While the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic fallout has led to increased homelessness rates in many communities across the Commonwealth, overall homelessness in Virginia has declined 36 percent since 2010, with homelessness among families dropping by 45 percent.

Homelessness among veterans has been cut in half since 2011 and in 2015, Virginia became the first state in the country to functionally end veteran homelessness. These successes have been driven by the leadership of the Governor’s Coordinating Council on Homelessness, collaboration between state and local partners, and the allocation of funding to efforts that support a systemic approach at the community level.

Resources to address homelessness in Virginia are administered through the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development’s Virginia Homeless Solutions Program, which combines state and federal funds to ensure homelessness is rare, brief, and nonrecurring.

In 2021, 60 percent of the funding allocated to the VHTF must be used to provide loans that reduce the costs of affordable housing. Given the additional need for immediate solutions to house individuals during the pandemic, up to 40 percent of the VHTF is being used for grants to reduce homelessness.

Additional information about Virginia Housing Trust Fund Homeless Reduction Grants is available here.

augusta free press
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