RD40 - Virginia Housing Commission 2018 Annual Report

    Executive Summary:

    The Virginia Housing Commission, a legislative commission that provides workable solutions for housing and housing-based issues, had a very productive interim. The Commission, led by Chair, Danny Marshall of Danville and Vice-chair, Mamie Locke of Portsmouth, heard many speakers and had effective workgroup sessions. This led to ten bills being recommended by the Commission for the 2019 Legislative Session.

    The subject matter to be studied was divided among three workgroups and a sub-workgroup (which evolved from the Neighborhood Transitions and Residential Land-Use Workgroup) where the bulk of the work of the Commission was accomplished. Through fourteen meetings, (three full Commission) legislators, Governor appointees and industry stake-holders discussed and debated topics ranging from hoarding, rent-to-own housing, to solutions for the eviction crisis in the Commonwealth.

    The full Commission heard from a retired judge on the eviction process, on economic impacts of housing on Virginia's economy from a representative of the Federal Reserve Bank, on smart growth from a Richmond architect, and various other speakers.

    The eviction agenda item originated in Senator Lock's Neighborhood Transitions and Land Use Workgroup and evolved into a sub workgroup with additional stakeholder participants. After study and debate the Neighborhood Transitions workgroup recommended six pieces of legislation; from reform of the appeal bond process in an eviction, duplicate unlawful detainer filings, the need for written leases, writs of possession, a tenant's right of redemption, and the creation of an eviction diversion program in the Commonwealth's courts.

    The Commission and its workgoups heard testimony, and debate and crafted solutions on many topics that did not result in legislation: they included the topics of Manufactured Home Rental Act, zoning implications for affordable dwelling units and vested rights in landscape cover.

    In the Affordable Housing and Real Estate Law Workgroup, which Delegate Chris Peace chaired, the group navigated the questions of radon and home inspections as well as inoperable vehicles on private property.

    The Common Interest Communities Workgroup, chaired by Delegate David Bulova, heard testimony concerning home-based childcare in homeowner associations. Additionally, they were advised about the need for clear association budget and have the amount of reserves needed clearly stated., bills were drafted by the Commission to address these issues. Other topics included the transfer of storm water management and adequate insurance needed by associations for unforeseen liabilities.

    The Virginia Housing Commission’s director Elizabeth Palen actively follows all housing legislation during the legislative session and represents the Commission during legislative meetings. Bills that are referred to the Commission as well as housing topics relevant to establishing affordable housing and current housing trends determine the work plan for the following interim. Meetings of the Commission for 2019 will resume after the conclusion of the legislative session.

    A number of resources are available on the Housing Commission website ( http://dls.virginia.gov/commissions/vhc.htm). Summaries of meetings are posted to the website. In addition, the Housing Commission Twitter feed (@HousingVHC) provides links to current media coverage of housing-related issues.