A Valued Public/Private Partnership with the Richmond Association of REALTORS®
By Toni D. Schmiegelow
Over the years, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has found a much valued partner in Richmond Association of REALTORS® Chief Executive Officer Laura Lafayette. Not only has she been a visible champion for affordable housing in the Richmond metro area, but she also stepped up when asked to co-chair City of Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney's Affordable Housing & Community Development Summit last fall. The invitation-only event, co-chaired by Better Housing Coalition Chief Executive Officer Greta Harris and convened by Mayor Stoney, brought together Richmond City Council members and about 150 others who work in the public and private sectors and for philanthropic, nonprofit and faith-based organizations. The goal of the day-long session was to provide input on a draft housing plan for the city initially crafted by Ms. Lafayette. HUD's Assistant Deputy Secretary Matthew Hunter, Regional Administrator Joe DeFelice and Richmond Field Office Director Carrie Schmidt represented the agency and provided HUD's perspective during the session.
But, that is not the only work underway under Ms. Lafayette's leadership to stimulate a thriving Greater Richmond region by working to ensure that all residents have access to safe and affordable housing. The Richmond Association of REALTORS® has established two successful nonprofit organizations to address community needs.
First, in 2004, the Association created a Partnership for Housing Affordability and in 2006, converted the partnership to a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit to create awareness of the need for affordable housing-and to provide real solutions. By 2017, the partnership joined with the Virginia Center for Housing Research at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg and the Center for Urban and Regional Analysis at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond to create a regional housing plan. The conclusions? The region faces a big challenge with an annual housing affordability deficit of $862 million, averaging $6,422 per cost-burdened household, paying more than 30 percent of their income for housing. Approximately 35 percent of all households in the region are cost-burdened including 15 percent who are severely cost-burdened, paying more than 50 percent of their income for housing. Furthermore, the partnership found that the challenge is shared by each of Richmond's nine jurisdictions; by low, moderate and higher income households and by homeowners and renters.
In 2016, the Association established the Maggie Walker Community Land Trust as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit committed to providing perpetually affordable homes to families with modest incomes throughout Richmond's neighborhoods. The Community Land Trust (CLT) does this by creating single family homes that are sold to qualified buyers while retaining the ownership of the land the houses are built on. When a homeowner sells, the CLT and the homeowner "share" the equity created by the increase in market value. The CLT's share stays in the house and is not added to the sales price keeping the home affordable for future qualified buyers. This CLT model requires only one subsidy at the start, and then makes that home affordable for all future purchasers without needing an additional subsidy.
When she visited Richmond in May 2018, Center for Community Progress' Vice President and National Director of National Technical Assistance Kim Graziani commented that the Richmond Association of REALTORS® is indeed unique. To the best of her knowledge, no other realtor association in the nation is involved in these types of activities. That's good news for Richmond residents-and affordable housing advocates.
|Content Archived: January 27, 2020|