FILE - VA Gov. Ralph Northam

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam (VCU CNS | Flickr via Creative Commons)

(The Center Square) – More than $21 million in Affordable and Special Needs Housing loans were approved in Virginia this week for low-income and extremely low-income households, Gov. Ralph Northam announced.

The money will be used to construct new housing units and rehabilitate existing units. The state will provide loans for 24 projects throughout the commonwealth for the creation of and rehabilitation of 1,266 permanent housing units.

According to a news release, the projects are meant to increase access to housing, reduce homelessness, provide options for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities and provide energy efficiency updates in existing units.

“Quality, affordable housing is the key to advancing equity, opportunity, and economic prosperity in every corner of our Commonwealth,” Northam said in a statement. “The Affordable and Special Needs Housing program is an important resource for increasing access to safe and sustainable housing for low-income families, individuals with disabilities, and Virginians experiencing homelessness.”

Loans will be administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). Funding for the loans comes from a variety of federal and state sources. The largest sources are state funds, $12.6 million through the Virginia Housing Trust Fund and $6.2 million through the Housing Innovations in Energy Efficiency. The two main federal sources are the HOME Investment Partnership Program, which accounts for $1.6 million and the National Housing Trust Fund, which accounts for $1.1 million.

“Providing housing stability and supporting programs to make homelessness rare, brief, and nonrecurring is more important now than ever as we turn the corner from this pandemic,” Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball said in a statement. “These loans will fill gaps in financing to make safe and affordable housing for our most vulnerable populations possible, which in turn strengthens our communities, our economy, and improves the lives of many Virginians across the Commonwealth.”

Some of the new state funds were made available after the General Assembly allocated $70.7 million to the Virginia Housing Trust Fund. The loans are awarded through a competitive process in which the state chooses the highest ranking proposals for which there are enough funds.

The loans will include projects in Albemarle, Fairfax, Henrico, James City, and Chesterfield counties and the cities of Charlottesville, Norfolk, Suffolk and Fredericksburg and Manassas, along with other localities.

Staff Reporter

Tyler Arnold reports on Virginia and West Virginia for The Center Square. He previously worked for the Cause of Action Institute and has been published in Business Insider, USA TODAY College, National Review Online and the Washington Free Beacon.