Virginia Tech awarded two-year research project on the economics of housing in Virginia

economic-forecast-headerHousing is part of the economic infrastructure of local communities and it is intertwined with other key economic components including construction, finance, property management, legal services, and professional services. Virginia Tech’s Center for Housing Research is leading a coalition of researchers in a two-year project to examine housing economics in Virginia. The coalition has been awarded $615,000 from the Office of the Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade in conjunction with the Virginia Housing Development Authority and the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development.

The multidisciplinary research coalition is led by Mel Jones, research associate for Virginia Tech’s Center for Housing Research, and Andrew McCoy, who is director of the Center for Housing Research, Preston and Catharine White Fellow, and associate professor in Virginia Tech’s Department of Building Construction.

Coalition members contributing to the study include top housing and economic impact researchers from Virginia Tech, George Mason University, the College of William and Mary, and Virginia Commonwealth University. The study’s results will provide a basis for decisions made by Virginia legislators, state policy makers and local officials.

“I hope that our study demonstrates the importance of collaborations across universities in the state. We’re gaining not only expertise from outside Virginia Tech, but experience,” said Jones. “The experience in Blacksburg and the experience in Northern Virginia is not the same experience as in Richmond or the Eastern Shore or Southside. Having representation from across the state helps us even out our perspectives.”

Jones and McCoy plan to demonstrate linkages between housing and economic development opportunities, including how housing developments are serving as direct economic catalysts for the commonwealth and to demonstrate how community vitality and household well-being perspectives are critical aspects of community and economic development.

“We’re looking at the entire housing package and its economic impact — the housing affordability, community amenities, employment opportunity, transportation, education, and health,” McCoy said.

The study will focus on three areas in order to address the relative importance of the housing industry to Virginia’s economy and determine how the industry’s strength or weakness affects economic vitality.  Each focus contains separate goals for the study. Focus one will quantify the impact of Virginia’s housing industry. Focuses two and three will support quantitative analysis through qualitative studies of community vitality and household well-being.

Final analysis will consider differences among the needs and goals statewide, in large metropolitan areas, in small metropolitan areas, and in rural/micropolitan areas. Each focus will address the importance of housing in economic development including housing issues and constraints that link economic development to housing affordability.

Jones has been leading an effort across the state to define the economic impact of affordable housing by locality in terms of new construction and rehabilitation. The work is sponsored by Housing Virginia, a statewide partnership of public and private organizations advocating access to high quality affordable housing, and will be featured on their website as a tool for policy makers and local officials.

“Housing affordability is dynamic and needs to reflect the most current data available to understand it in the context of our economy,” Mel Jones said of Virginia Tech’s work and proposal.

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