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Northam Previews Housing Budget Priorities

Governor Ralph Northam speaks at a podium in front of a sign for Virginia Supportive Housing.
Governor Ralph Northam announces his housing budget proposals for 2020. (Patrick Larsen, VPM News.)

VPM intern Patrick Larsen reported this story.

Governor Ralph Northam announced plans on Friday to put $92 million in the upcoming state budget for affordable housing programs. Northam says this funding will help the state deal with its evictions problem.

“The cost of housing, and especially affordable housing, is rising faster than people’s wages,” Northam said.

$63 million of Governor Ralph Northam’s budget proposal would go to the Virginia Housing Trust Fund, which helps reduce homelessness and offers grants to renters. That’s about three times what his administration proposed last year. Overall, that would bring total funding for VHTF to $84 million.

Christie Marra, director of Housing Advocacy at the Virginia Poverty Law Center --  says this support is necessary because there are other problems that come with not having a place to live.

“We know that children who are living in neighborhoods with high eviction rates are also attending low performing and often unaccredited schools,” Marra said.

Greta Harris, President of the community developer and nonprofit Better Housing Coalition in Richmond, added that new affordable housing developments will require large investments from the state.

“As housing prices continue to rise, significant and sustained investments will be required to meet our state’s housing needs,” Harris said.

Harris says the Governor’s announcement is a good start for the Commonwealth, but that the state needs to keep spending over time - the proposal is just a one-time cost.

Lawmakers will start working on the budget when they return to Richmond next month.


VPM News is the staff byline for articles and podcasts written and produced by multiple reporters and editors.