Members of the Northern Virginia Housing Coalition agreed last night to ask the state legislature to set up a $100 million housing trust fund to help low- and moderate-income people deal with housing problems.
The agreement was the result of the year-old coalition's effort to devise a statewide plan to address shortages of affordable housing and problems of inferior housing that lacks basic amenities such as plumbing and electricity.
"We are asking the state to fulfill a responsibility it hasn't fulfilled before," said Albert C. Eisenberg, Arlington County Board chairman and a founder of the coalition, which is made up of local officials, builders, tenant and civic groups.
According to Eisenberg, the state has traditionally relied on federal money, which has been greatly reduced in recent years, to finance housing programs.
More than 50 coalition members, including elected officials, business officials and representatives from social service agencies, civic associations and housing groups, attended last night's meeting in the Arlington County Boardroom to discuss ideas that should be included in the proposed legislation that would create a Housing Partnership Fund.
The coalition agreed that three-quarters of the funds should be targeted to those people with incomes of less than or equal to 80 percent of the household median income for their planning district, with particular attention to those at the lowest income levels. The other quarter would be appropriated to private organizations that sponsor housing for people in that income bracket.
Because housing problems vary among communities, the coalition agreed that each locality should decide how to use the money. For example, money from the fund could be used to provide rent subsidies, weatherization, indoor plumbing and electricity, shelter for the homeless, home ownership assistance or for other programs that would address particular problems.
While agreeing to seek at least $100 million dollars annually from the state, the source of that money would be left up to the General Assembly.
The state's Department of Housing and Community Development would administer the fund and provide technical assistance to public and private housing sponsors, under the coalition's proposal.
These private sponsors would apply directly to the state for the funds. Any unused allocations would be retained by the state and made available to local governments and private sponsors through a bonus program in which state funds are matched by local and or private contributions.