RD636 - Virginia’s Homeless Programs 2021-2022 Program Year
Virginia is a recognized national leader in ending homelessness. The Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) plays an integral role in Virginia’s response to homelessness. DHCD continues to be a crucial resource to communities across the commonwealth allowing persons who are homeless to access resources with the goal of obtaining permanent housing as quickly as possible.
During Fiscal Year 2022, DHCD continued working with and providing resources to Continuums of Care (CoCs) to address needs related to COVID-19 as well as re-establishing normal protocols for post-COVID-19. DHCD continued to manage federal COVID relief funds and will do so into 2024. With these additional resources, more people have been able to access the Crisis Homeless Response System; however, the need for these services has also increased. Virginia saw a 12% increase in overall number of people experiencing homelessness in the Point-in-Time count (based on preliminary reporting). This is the first year since 2020, that a full Point-in-Time count was conducted (sheltered and unsheltered), which may have resulted in higher numbers than 2021.
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will not release the official Point-in-Time count until later in 2022 or early 2023.
Based on evidence from the National Low-Income Housing Coalition, access to affordable housing is the most significant reason for homelessness. The reason for homelessness becomes a supply and demand issue in the national housing market that is also evident in Virginia.
Across the commonwealth, 241,874 renter households are extremely low income (ELI), meaning they have incomes under 30% of the median income. This makes up about 22% of all renters, including those who are experiencing homelessness. For Virginians making 30% of AMI, there were only 39 affordable and available homes per 100 renters, and cost burden was extremely high as a result. Eighty-five percent of all ELI renters were cost-burdened, and 71% were severely cost-burdened, paying more than 50% of their income on rent. Of these ELI renters, 39% were in the labor force, 27% were seniors, 17% had disabilities, 5% were enrolled in school full-time, and 2% were single caregivers ( https://nlihc.org/housing-needs-by-state/virginia).
DHCD administers the Commonwealth of Virginia’s homeless assistance resources. These resources include approximately $17 million annually in state and federal funding as well as well as the State Housing Trust Fund Homeless Reduction Grant and the remainder of the COVID Relief Funds.
In the spring of 2021, DHCD released the renewal application process for the Virginia Homeless Solutions Program (VHSP). The grant application combined state and federal funding sources (HUD’s Emergency Solutions Grant and Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS/HIV along with State General Funds for homeless assistance and homeless prevention). In order to apply and receive these funds, communities were required to update their 2021 community-based applications that demonstrate an effective crisis response system designed to make homelessness rare, brief, and non-recurring.