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Virginia needs at least 200,000 more affordable rental units, report finds

The Rosa, an affordable housing development by Enterprise Community Partners and the Richmond...
The Rosa, an affordable housing development by Enterprise Community Partners and the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority in Richmond’s Jackson Ward neighborhood.(Wyatt Gordon/ For the Virginia Mercury)
Published: Dec. 14, 2021 at 3:49 PM EST
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A new report found that Virginia is short at least 200,000 affordable rental units as many residents struggle to afford the cost of housing.

The findings, presented by the state’s Joint Legislative and Audit Review Commission, were part of a larger review of affordability and potential impacts on supply and demand, including the effectiveness of existing state housing programs. Analysts for the state watchdog agency found that nearly 30 percent of Virginia households are “cost-burdened,” a measure that refers to people who spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing.

“Of those households, nearly half of them are severely cost-burdened, meaning they’re spending more than 50 percent of their income on housing,” Stefanie Papps, a senior legislative analyst for the commission, told state lawmakers Monday. Black and Hispanic Virginians are disproportionately represented among those households, who are also more likely to rent than own their homes and have a median income of $32,000.

While the overall percentage of cost-burdened households in Virginia declined slightly over the last decade — from 32 percent in 2009 to 29 percent in 2019 — the number of low-income households who struggled with housing costs increased by three percent over the same time period.

Those include Virginians making below 30 percent of the average median income in their area to those making between 51 and 80 percent. Papps said many of the state’s most common jobs offer wages that fall under the low-income threshold, including custodians, home health aides and bus drivers.

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.(Virginia Mercury)

The Virginia Mercury is a new, nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization covering Virginia government and policy.

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