May 20, 2019

A new apartment community financed with Low Income Housing Tax Credits begins accepting applications. A first-time homeowner closes on a home using an FHA loan. A weatherization professional installs insulation on a low-income family’s home with Weatherization Assistance Program funds. Because these activities rely on support from elected and appointed officials, Community Housing Partners (CHP) has been working to educate policymakers about the importance of programs that support affordable, sustainable homes and communities.

In the first few months of 2019, CHP has already made significant progress in advocating for federal and state programs that support the nonprofit’s residents and clients. From tours and roundtables to office visits on Capitol Hill, CHP has been serving as a voice for programs and services that support low-income families and communities.

Energy Solutions Training Center Tour with Rep. Morgan Griffith

Phil Hull and Congressman GriffithIn February, Rep. Morgan Griffith visited the Energy Solutions Research and Training Center in Christiansburg. Griffith has represented Virginia’s 9th District since 2011. This district covers most of Southwest Virginia, including the New River Valley and Roanoke Valley.

Mark Jackson, Vice President of Energy Solutions, led the tour of the Training Center, which extends the knowledge and skills of the Energy Solutions team to weatherization and energy efficiency professionals across the country. Last year, more than 750 professionals received energy efficiency instruction at the Training Center. These professionals often rely on the federally funded Weatherization Assistance Program to provide weatherization assistance to low-income households.

Sen. Tim Kaine’s Eviction Roundtable

Tiffany Little, Senator Kaine, and Tiffany SlusherVirginia made headlines following a report that the state’s 5.1 percent eviction rate is twice the national average. Some localities, including Richmond, have more than double that rate. In March, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine led a roundtable discussion on evictions in Hampton, Virginia. Among the participants were Tiffany Little, Director of Operations, and Tiffany Slusher, Director of Programs, from CHP Resident Services.

In addition to providing affordable homes for low-income individuals and families, CHP offers eviction prevention and financial capability programs for vulnerable residents. For example, the CHANGE program provided financial capability education for residents at six CHP properties in the Hampton Roads area, including one-on-one coaching sessions and a monetary incentive for participants. CHP hopes to expand these programs but faces the challenge of inadequate resources to do so—including a limited number of staff members with sufficient financial education background to deliver the curriculum.

National NeighborWorks Association’s Legislative Day

Caleb and Samantha at NNA Legislative DayAlso in March, CHP took part in the National NeighborWorks Association’s Annual Legislative Day.  CHP joined 170 of the nonprofit’s peers in Washington, D.C. to educate members of Congress about the importance of NeighborWorks America.

CHP’s Samantha Brown, Vice President of Real Estate Development, and Caleb Reed, Development Associate, met with staff from the offices of Rep. Don Beyer, Sen. Tim Kaine, and Sen. Mark Warner. They also heard from other elected officials and policymakers at a reception prior to the legislative day. Following the event, Sen. Warner joined others in signing a “Dear Colleague” letter for NeighborWorks America’s $170 million congressional appropriation.

Congressional Affordable Housing Bus Tour with Rep. Rob Wittman

Attendees at the Congressional Bus TourIn April, CHP participated in the Virginia Housing Development Authority’s 1st Congressional District Affordable Housing Bus Tour. The congressional district covers a large area to the north and east of Richmond. Featuring more than a dozen policymakers and officials, the event began and ended at CHP’s Overlook Terrace Apartments in Fredericksburg, Virginia. (View a Facebook photo gallery of the event.)

Rep. Rob Wittman; Brian Ball, Secretary of Commerce and Trade; and other policymakers and officials visited eight properties. The selected locations illustrate how VHDA utilizes federal programs and its own resources to support affordable housing in Fredericksburg and throughout the commonwealth. Janaka Casper, Chief Executive Officer at CHP, participated in the bus tour and led a tour of Overlook Terrace, a 72-apartment new construction project which CHP completed in 2016. Casper also had an opportunity to discuss the recently completed Apartments at Kingsridge, which uses the same layout as Overlook Terrace but incorporates new sustainability features.