Framing the Issue
Housing stability affects nearly every aspect of a person’s life: the ability to retain a job or succeed in school, to stay healthy and safe, to build wealth for their family. Quality, affordable housing is a cornerstone of sustainable economic vitality and personal well-being. Yet, housing affordability is a critical challenge throughout Richmond.
Recent statistics show that about one-third of Richmond residents are overburdened with housing costs, spending more than 30% of their income on housing. Today, more than 86,000 families in Central Virginia live in substandard housing because they cannot afford adequate shelter despite their best efforts.
A Comprehensive Approach
The Community Foundation is deeply committed to affordable housing as a cornerstone to economic stability and wealth building for low to moderate income families. We support with a diverse network of affordable housing partners to empower individuals all along the housing continuum, with services which include:
- providing emergency shelter for individuals facing homelessness;
- supporting residents as they transition from public housing;
- establishing affordable rental units and preserving a diversity of incomes in Richmond’s neighborhoods;
- offering wrap-around services to address personal barriers to stable housing; and
- providing critical home repairs for elderly and low-income home owners.
Richmond Region Housing Framework
As a follow-up to the 2015 Richmond Housing Plan, the Richmond Region Housing Framework released by the Partnership for Housing Affordability in early 2020 details the need for affordable housing in our region, identifies existing barriers to meeting that need, and outlines strategies to overcome these obstacles. As a key sponsor of the plan, the Community Foundation is committed to coordinating with community stakeholders to implement best practices and secure a vibrant, sustainable and diverse Richmond community.
Maggie Walker Community Land Trust
Established in 2016, Maggie Walker Community Land Trust is already considered among the top 10% of community land trusts in the country, having constructed 50 owner-occupied homes as of January 2021 and projecting 50 more in the next two years. Following a $1 million grant in 2018, the Community Foundation awarded a second $1 million in September 2021 to support the continued acquisition and subsidy of new properties that create permanently affordable home ownership opportunities for people of low- to moderate-income and who typically work in essential jobs.
“One of the most hopeful developments in recent years is far greater alignment of the public, private, nonprofit, and philanthropic sectors—all leveraging their assets to meet the housing needs of our neighbors. The recent Community Foundation grant of $1M to the Maggie Walker Community Land Trust is an excellent example,” said Laura Lafayette, Immediate Past Chair of MWCLT.
The City of Richmond provided 15 tax delinquent parcels to MWCLT, and the Community Foundation’s grant will support the development of 38 new, permanently affordable homes. MWCLT will seek to recruit buyers of color for these units, as home ownership is a key element in any effort to close the racial wealth gap.
Better Housing Coalition
The Community Foundation is pleased to also contribute $1 million to Better Housing Coalition as part of its $10 million campaign, which has also secured significant contributions from Altria and The Cabell Foundation. These gifts will leverage development of rental units and single-family homes for individuals who are at 40 to 60% of the average median income, as well as seniors, in Richmond, Chesterfield and Henrico.
“We’re fortunate that elected officials, leaders of our local business, and philanthropic organizations are recognizing that affordable housing can help address social and racial equity disparities in our region in a significant way. By allocating the majority of this generous grant to capital for affordable housing, the Community Foundation will accelerate our ability to produce 1,000 additional units over the next three years,” said Greta Harris, President & CEO of Better Housing Coalition.
Flexible funding, big thinking help curb homelessness
Innovative approaches to affordable housing