VCDC is gearing up for Affordable Housing Awareness Week on April 24, 2016. This month, we’ll share success stories that illustrate how VCDC’s partners are raising the bar and raising awareness when it comes to quality affordable housing.
In this edition, we focus on lower income seniors and residents with special needs—two populations who share a common desire with all of us: to live independently. But because many of them live on limited incomes and require assistance with daily activities, independence can be difficult. Let’s visit two communities that are using the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program to fulfill a housing need as well as a human need.
As much as a quarter of Virginia’s population age 65 and older need affordable housing. People age 65 and older compose almost 14% of Virginia’s population. An article published by The Virginia News Letter indicates that of those seniors, 11% aged 65 to 84 live at or below the poverty level; for seniors 85 and older the percentage is a staggering 27%.
The Better Housing Coalition recognized this need and met it beautifully with Claiborne Square in Petersburg. The newly built community transformed a once rundown area of Petersburg and helped to revitalize the entire neighborhood. Most important, the 47 one- and two-bedroom apartment units provide affordable and independent living to low-income senior residents of the city.
We turned to Greta Harris, President and CEO of Better Housing Coalition, to learn more:
As it relates to seniors, what affordable housing issue tops your list of challenges? Supply and demand are out of kilter. Seniors are the fastest growing segment of our society. The market demand is very high as evidenced by the growing number of communities across the Commonwealth.
Why is it important to have quality in affordable housing? Living in a beautiful space raises the quality of a person’s life. The beauty of the low-income tax credit properties isn’t in the bricks and mortar; it’s in the faces of the people that live inside its walls.
What is Better Housing Coalition doing to celebrate Affordable Housing Awareness Week? Volunteers will build gazebos and spruce up outdoor spaces in support of our Breathe Easy program.
Rush Homes in Lynchburg, Virginia is on a mission to carry on the dream of Mable Rush, its founder and mother to a special needs son. Her dream was to provide affordable, independent living to those with special needs. According to the US Census Bureau, almost 9% of Virginia’s citizens between the ages of 16 and 64 have a disability. Mable’s son Jimmy was intellectually impaired and, when placed in a group home setting, his quality of life deteriorated so drastically that Mable knew she had to find a way for Jimmy and others like him to achieve independent living that enabled them to thrive long after their care givers were gone.
Rush Homes celebrated the opening of Victoria Ridge when it partnered with VCDC to complete its first low-income housing tax credit deal in 2011. We talked with Jeff Smith, Executive Director of Rush Homes, to learn more:
As it relates to people with special needs, what affordable housing issue tops your list of challenges? Currently, there are more than 400 people on Rush Homes’ waiting list. The need for accessible housing is great in Central Virginia, especially for those with low incomes and self-care challenges.
Why is it important to have quality in affordable housing? The translation of quality is permanency. Once an applicant is approved for a Rush Home and moves into their new place of residence, that person has the opportunity for a lifetime home in which they will not need to fear another move or a drastic lifestyle change.
What is Rush Homes doing to celebrate Affordable Housing Awareness Week? Rush Homes will promote opportunities for volunteers to help residents with yard and housework; and on April 28, 2016, the staff and residents will present the one-hour informational program, Rush Hour. We want to be a catalyst of hope for more families with special needs.