Why We Advocate
Housing is the foundation for opportunity, yet throughout the United States’ history housing policy has been used to perpetuate systemic racism and segregation. From federal laws that authorized redlining throughout American cities to local policies that legalized restrictive covenants, policy has had a lasting effect on our society. As an organization committed to ensuring equal access to housing for everyone, we believe that public policy is crucial to combating housing inequality and dismantling a long history of housing discrimination that still affects us today.
Every year, our top priority is always to protect the Fair Housing Law
The Virginia Fair Housing Law, which currently prohibits housing discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, elderliness, familial status, source of funds, sexual orientation, gender identity, military status, and disability, rests at the core of our mission and every year we advocate to maintain and expand upon these protections.
2023 Legislative Agenda
HJ498 (Carr) / SJ247 (Hashmi): Combat the Displacement of Vulnerable Homeowners
Pass a Constitutional amendment enabling local governments to grant property tax exemptions to homeowners of low-income or low financial wealth. Localities will be able to tailor the application of such exemptions to their needs.
Budget Items 369 #2h (Hayes) / 114 #5s (Locke): Promote Fair Access to Rental Housing for Justice-Involved Individuals
Tie state funding for housing providers to compliance with a model policy on tenant screening for criminal history. The model policy would be developed by the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation and the Virginia Fair Housing Office in accordance with guidance from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Budget Items 114 #9h (Hayes) / 114 #2s (Locke): Support the Transition to Sustainable Homeownership for Low-Income Households
Provide funding to establish a pilot program in the Hampton Roads region administered by the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) that will provide grants to non-profits to build quality homes affordable to first-time homebuyers, with a priority given to those currently living in public housing or utilizing a housing voucher for their rent.
HB2047 (Carr) / SB1331 (McClellan/Hashmi): Grant All Localities the Power to Establish Effective Inclusionary Zoning Programs
Expand the authority of all Virginia localities to create inclusionary zoning policies tailored to their own jurisdictions. Inclusionary housing programs, or affordable dwelling unit ordinances, generally incentivize or require developers to set aside a portion of their units as affordable. Under current law, all localities can establish such programs, but only seven are given the flexibility to design program details according to their own discretion. Due to these restrictions, not many localities have chosen to utilize inclusionary zoning in their efforts to address the affordable housing crisis. The affordable housing study by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) and the zoning and segregation report by McGuire Woods both recommend this policy change.
HB2045 (Carr): Incentivize Localities to Adopt Less Restrictive Zoning Practices
Establish the Zoning for Housing Production Fund, which will be used to incentivize localities to adopt zoning policies that allow for more dense, diverse, and affordable housing. The affordable housing study by JLARC and the zoning and segregation report by McGuire Woods also recommend this policy change.
Budget Items 163 #1s (Favola) / 114 #1h (Maldonado): Protect Virginians from Predatory Real Estate Practices
Provide funding for a state-wide study about the impact of predatory real estate practices, including an examination of the role corporate entities have in the residential housing market.
Budget Items 114 #12h (McQuinn) / 114 #27h (Coyner) / 114 #7s (Locke) / 114 #9s (McClellan): Establish the Virginia Housing Stability Fund
Fund a pilot program to provide state-funded rental subsidies for low-income Virginians, in accordance with recommendations from the study conducted by DHCD in 2022. The program will serve extremely low-income families with children through long-term project- and tenant-based rental assistance.
HB1652 (Price) / SB1340 (Barker): Grant Tenants Reasonable Time to Pay Overdue Rent
Extend the “pay or quit” time-period from 5 days to 14 days, giving tenants enough time to pay overdue rent and late fees before the landlord can file for an eviction. During the COVID-19 pandemic, this “pay or quit” extension was instrumental in preventing evictions.
HB1651 (Price) / SB1330 (McClellan/Locke): Ensure Greater Transparency in the Rental Application Process
Require landlords to make public their tenant screening policies and application fees. With greater transparency, tenants can make more informed decisions about where to apply for housing. Rather than wasting money on applications for units with screening policies that exclude them, residents would have the information needed to budget for and apply for units for which they qualify.