VA Fair Housing Law Updated to Include “Source of Funds”

From J. Michael Hawkins, Virginia Housing:  

As a result of legislation passed by the Virginia General Assembly and signed into law by the Governor, the Virginia Fair Housing Law has added discrimination on the basis of a person’s “source of funds” to the list of unlawful discriminatory housing practices.  “Source of funds” is defined as any source that lawfully provides funds to or on behalf of a renter or buyer of housing, including any assistance, benefit, or subsidy program, whether such program is administered by a governmental or nongovernmental entity.

This new provision has implications for the HUD Housing Choice Voucher Program administered by HRHA by helping to expand housing choice options for assisted households.

The provision allows an owner or owner’s managing agent to deny or limit a person’s rental or occupancy of a rental dwelling unit based on the person’s source of funds for that unit if such source is not approved within 15 days of the person’s submission of the request for tenancy approval.

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HRHA will continue working towards efficient and transparent operations as we work with landlords, tenants, and HUD requirements. Somethings we are doing since launching our 100 Families campaign include:

For more about the new Fair Housing law provision, participating in the HCV program, and more, check out these brief videos developed by Virginia Housing:

 

Securing housing for 100 Families in 100 Days – Join us

With additional funding through the 2020 CARES Act, Harrisonburg Redevelopment & Housing Authority (HRHA) is urgently looking to find housing for 100 new Harrisonburg and Rockingham families by September 30, 2020. As a result of COVID-19, individuals and families have seen increased challenges in accessing affordable housing.

In our community, we simply do not have enough landlords who accept housing vouchers. This means individuals and families who have been approved for housing assistance, looking for a place to rent, are unable to find one. We need your help!

Throughout this campaign we will be offering information sessions about leasing with HRHA, sharing landlord and resident perspectives around our housing needs, and working hard to secure housing for 100 individuals and families.

Please join us in connecting with Harrisonburg and Rockingham landlords. Follow our Facebook for updates and check in with our 100 Families webpage. Thanks!

Are you a Harrisonburg or Rockingham landlord interested in learning more about accepting vouchers? Check out our Landlord Page for upcoming info sessions, FAQs, and more!

COVID-19 Temporary Waivers & Alternative Requirements

Summary of Public Housing and HCV Temporary Waivers and Alternative Requirements

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has released waivers and alternative requirements for Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) during the COVID-19 pandemic. HRHA has adopted specific waivers noted in the chart linked below, effective April 15, 2020, with the respective time frames and details included.

View: HRHA COVID-19 Temporary Waivers & Alternative Requirements

Community Call for Cloth Face Masks

The Harrisonburg Redevelopment & Housing Authority (HRHA) is asking for community support in providing washable face masks for our residents and staff. We will also connect donated masks to those experiencing homelessness and the community members who work with them. HRHA is willing to provide compensation. Masks can be dropped off at our main office at 286 Kelley St in Harrisonburg. We are aiming to gather and distribute 1,000 cloth face masks over the next month. Can you help us do that?

Questions? Contact our Resident Services Coordinator Everett Brubaker
– Through our Facebook page
– Though email: ebrubaker@harrisonburgrha.com
– Through the website contact form

You may also call our main office M-F 9:00am to 4:30pm at 540 – 434- 7386

Please share with your neighbors and networks!

Instructions for making cloth face masks from the CDC

HRHA Updates Policies and Procedures Regarding COVID-19

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. Cases in the United States began in January 2020 and continue to increase. In response, HRHA will be reducing person to person contact and restricting and/or eliminating office visits.

Updates to HRHA Operations effective March 16, 2020

1. All interim and re-certifications will be conducted through an online form (www.harrisonburgrha.com/covid19) or over the phone until further notice.

2. The main office as well as satellite offices will not be open to the public. Documents can be signed/dropped off but in person meetings will not be held.

3. Work orders will only be completed if life or safety issue.

4. Rent statements for Franklin Heights residents will be mailed, NOT picked up in office.

5. HRHA is working diligently to prevent delays in housing assistance payments to HCV landlords. Thank you for being patient during this time.

 

Additional policy clarifications and resources will be updated regularly at: https://harrisonburgrha.com/covid19/

HRHA General Information and Protocol to COVID-19 (March 11,2020)

COVID-19 Information from the Virginia Department of Health 

COVID-19 Information from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention 

Local Events Highlight Housing Challenges

The start of 2020 has seen a number of events aimed at highlighting Harrisonburg’s housing and homelessness challenges. The Point in Time Count in January provides the necessary data that helps inform our region on who is experiencing homelessness. On February 6, Asbury Methodist hosted “Disrupting Poverty in Harrisonburg’. The eventfeatured speakers from local agencies, including HRHA, who work and advocate in this space. HRHA’s Executive Director Michael Wong spoke about the rent burden experienced by around 50% of Harrisonburg residents and the challenging rental market. Wong as well as Shannon Porter of Mercy House, Sam Nickels of OCP, and Adam Blagg with Faith in Action spoke to a variety of systemic issues that drive this challenge. You can check out an overview of the event on WHSV’s website.

Last week JMU held a “Hacking Housing Insecurity” mini conference to drive conversations on affordable housing challenges. Faith in Action, a local coalition of congregations, the Islamic center, and synagogue, continues to work on affordable housing as their issue of focus for 2019/2020. Harrisonburg city and Rockingham continue conversations about homelessness and affordable housing challenges in our region.

Housing is at the core of many of the challenges our community faces. We are encouraged by the work individuals, faith communities, non-profits, and government are doing to pursue safe, sustainable, and affordable housing.

A Generous Community – 12th Annual Giving Tree Initiative a Success

The last of the gifts are going out this week to parents in the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program. Since 2007, HRHA and the FSS program have teamed up with community partners on a Giving Tree initiative. For working families in the FSS program, December and the Holiday season can be incredibly stressful. HRHA creates ornaments with children’s names and gift requests and places them on tress at both the JCPenney Salon and Santa’s Workshop in the Valley Mall. Community members, families, and organizations pick out a child or two or more, purchase gifts, and return them to our office. This year with your help we provided gifts for over 90 children from around 40 families. All received gift in time for the Holidays.

We are incredibly grateful for WHSV for covering the initiative, as well as organizations like the Blue Ridge AACN and Broadway High school FFA Chapter who together provided gifts for nearly 30 children. We are also grateful to Diane and the JCPenney Salon team and the team at Santa’s Workshop at the Valley Mall for hosting the trees every year. Thank you for making this years Giving Tree a success.

Thank you and Happy Holidays!

“I can’t even find the words to express how thankful I am! Honestly was terrified this month for Christmas. And now I am blessed I can rest easy for my children will have presents! Thank you thank you thank you!”

“Thank you so much for making sure my kids have a Christmas this year!”

“Thank you for saving Christmas!”

“This helps out in so many ways, I’m the only one working. Thank you”

“Being a single mom is tough. This helps ease the stress on me and more importantly brings Christmas magic to my daughters. Thank you much for being a real life Santa”

“Thank you for your generosity, thank you for helping my daughters have a good Christmas”

Liberty Park – 13 Years Later

Before it was a park, HRHA leased the lot on the corner of N. Liberty and W. Wolf St. to the Mercy House Thrift Store. After a fire in August 1997 destroyed the building, the space was converted to a parking lot. Years later, a local non-profit working on Black’s Run restoration began talks with the City and HRHA. In 2005/2006 HRHA provided an easement for the land to Harrisonburg City and worked with a number of community partners to bring Liberty Park to life. This accessible park is now managed by Harrisonburg City Parks and Recreation, creating a special place downtown for beauty, rest, events, gardening, and more.

 

 

Liberty Park 2005 Liberty Park 2019

 

Subscribe Now to the HRHA Monthly Newsletter

HRHA is launching a monthly newsletter, available in both print and digital format. Interested in subscribing? Just click HERE to add your name to our listserve. The Newsletter will go out the first week of the month and features stories, news, updates, and more from HRHA. Housing continues to be a major challenge in our city. Our newsletter is one of many new efforts to better engage the Harrisonburgburg community on these challenges, and what we and other community partners are doing in response. Stay up to date and add your voice. Thanks!

Check out the September 2019 Newsletter.

2020 Five year plan, other administrative plans, available for review and comment through October 4, 2019

The HRHA Board of Commissioner’s August 21 meeting began the start of the public comment period for HRHA’s Annual, 5-year, HCV, and Property plans and policies. HRHA’s first main goal over the next five years includes becoming a Move to Work Agency (MTW). This would grant HRHA increased autonomy in the development of policies to improve program efficiency and effectiveness, increase participant’s self-sufficiency through rent reform strategies, and increase landlord participation to improve housing access. Upon selection into the MTW program, HRHA would develop a team of stakeholders and conduct community outreach and public comment processes related to the MTW goals. The second main goal involves increasing housing opportunities through unit development, private/public partnerships, expanded Fair Housing training, continued dialogue around social justice and neighborhood revitalization, increased communications efforts, and continued leadership in addressing regional homelessness.

Each plan can be reviewed through the links below, or in hard copies at the HRHA office.

2020 Five-Year Plan (Proposed)
2020 Annual Plan (Proposed)
2020 HCVP Admin Plan (Proposed)
2020 Commerce Village ACOP (Proposed)
2020 Franklin Heights ACOP (Proposed)
2020 JR Polly Lineweaver ACOP (Proposed)
2020 Lineweaver ACOP (Proposed)

Comments can be made by:
Mail:  to 286 Kelley St Harrisonburg VA, 22802 attn Mr. Michael Wong
Email: to wongway@harrisonburgrha.com
Website: through the comment box to the right, sent directly to Mr. Michael Wong
In-Person: during the public comment period at our 4:00 pm September 18 Board Meeting (286 Kelley St)