As Kaine, Warner announce $41M in funds, wait for affordable housing can be seven years or more


PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Senators Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) have announced more than $40 million to help affordable housing programs in Virginia. It’s unclear how much of that funding will go to Hampton Roads. What is clear is that any amount would help a growing housing crunch.

The Portsmouth Redevelopment and Housing Authority manages about 1,800 units in 11 communities, and as is the case in so many cities, right now they’re at full capacity.

“We have over 7,000 families on that wait list,” said PRHA Executive Director Edward Bland.

And then there are Section 8 units owned by private landlords. “We have over 3,000 families on that particular waiting list,” Bland said in a Friday afternoon interview.

Bland says Portsmouth has thousands of people who qualify for public housing for any of a number of different reasons.

Click here to see the current funding proposals

“You have a lot of families that work in the service industry, as well as some families that may be disabled, elderly or handicapped.”

So while it may take a few years for his agency to place someone who’s waiting to move into a privately owned home or apartment — the wait for the PRHA communities is much longer.

“With over 7,000 folks on that wait list, you got a family that may be waiting from seven to 10 years before something becomes available,” Bland said.

Bland says it’s unclear how much of the money announced by Kaine and Warner will trickle down to Portsmouth, but anything would help.

“Whatever money we could get we could use to provide additional affordable housing to families here in Portsmouth that need affordable housing.”

We also contacted the head of Virginia Beach’s Department of Housing and Neighborhood Preservation, Andrew Friedman. He says he has received few details on the money announced by Warner and Kaine, but expects Virginia Beach will get nearly $5 million for specific affordable housing programs.

Friedman says unlike Portsmouth, his city does not own affordable housing units, but the wait for privately owned Section 8 homes and apartments can be seven years or more.

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