CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) – Affordable housing, and the lack of it, is starting to catch the attention of local, state and federal lawmakers.
Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner announced Friday that more than $54 million in federal money will be coming to Virginia to make improvements to public housing.
Richmond will get the lion’s share of it, though $20.3 million will go to six of the seven cities of Hampton Roads. Norfolk will receive more than $10 million, the most in Hampton Roads, while Virginia Beach will get no money from this award.
The funds can be used for relocation and reducing vacancies, but based on what 10 On Your Side saw last week at the regional Housing Crisis Hotline, there are little to no vacancies anywhere in Hampton Roads.
The Hotline, managed by ForKids Inc., has experienced record call volume five out of the last six months.
“What is shocking is that people that are making a lot of money are still not able to sustain their housing because the gap between rent and incomes is just continuing to widen out,” said ForKids CEO Thaler McCormick.
McCormick told 10 On Your Side the hotline answered 65,000 calls from 35,000 households last year.
“What I think is really shameful for us as a community is that you’ve got folks in public services, our teachers, police, fire, healthcare workers, you know its a broad swath of people,” McCormick said. “It’s not just a question of folks that are unemployed. This is employed households that just can’t afford their rents.”
Kaine and Warner have introduced legislation to address rising home prices and close widening gaps between wealth and homeownership.
McCormick said what’s needed is more places to put people until more affordable homes are built.
Otherwise, she said problems will persist and calls will keep coming.
If you or someone you know is facing homelessness or about to be evicted anywhere in the Greater Hampton Roads area, the Housing Crisis Hotline can offer resources. The number to call is 757-587-4202.