Hosted by Supervisors Kenny Boddye of the Occoquan District and Margaret Franklin of the Woodbridge District, the June 23 Housing Town Hall included a panel discussion taking a big-picture look at affordable and workforce housing, existing housing programs in the county and proposed policy updates that could increase access to appropriate, affordable housing in Prince William County. Issues discussed ranged from the foundational importance of housing, housing for all workforce types and affordability levels, bringing housing closer to jobs, improving quality of life, to the critical need for more housing throughout the region. The Town Hall was recorded live and can be viewed in entirety here.
In addition to presentations and discussions with panelists Prince William County Planning Director Parag Agrawal, Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments Housing Program Manager Hilary Chapman, Prince William County Office of Housing and Community Development Assistant Director Joan Duckett, and Connie Dalton from the Prince William County Planning Office, Bill Lake, Prince William County’s Director of Housing, has provided follow-up responses to questions asked by the public during the presentation regarding existing housing resources.
- How can the county create a clear guide of qualifications and simplified application process? We administer federal funds which come with different qualifications. I would relate it to making an application at your local bank for a car loan or mortgage they have different qualifications. In order to get the car loan or mortgage they ask a number of questions and you have to meet the banks criteria in order to be approved. We are no different.
- Can you address requests for a transparent waitlist status and regular re-qualification cycles? Due to confidentiality the waitlist cannot be shared with the public. We also do not provide how many people are on the list before you because it changes daily due to priority established. For example a first priority you must live or work in the County
Preference 1. Families who live, work, or have been hired to work in the jurisdiction who are:
- Elderly (Elderly family means a family whose head or spouse or sole member is a person who is at least 62 years of age.), or
- Disabled (A disabled family is a family whose head, spouse, or sole member is a person with disabilities as defined by HUD), or
- Non-elderly person with disabilities who are transitioning out of institutional or other segregated settings, at serious risk of institutionalization, currently experiencing homeless, previously experienced homelessness and currently a client in a permanent supportive housing or rapid rehousing project, or those at risk of experiencing homelessness, or
- Homeless (HUD Final Rule Defining Homeless 76 FR 75994 [12-5-11]), or
- Graduates of Transitional Housing Program (as certified by local service provider or appropriate agency), or
- Victim(s) of Domestic Violence. Families that have been subjected to or victimized by a member of the family or household within the past 6 months. OHCD will require evidence that the family has been displaced as a result of fleeing violence in the home. Families are also eligible for this preference if there is proof that the family is currently living in a situation where they are being subjected to or victimized by violence in the home. The following criteria are used to establish a family’s eligibility for this preference:
- Actual or threatened physical violence directed against the applicant or the applicant’s family by spouse or other household member who lives in the unit with the family,
- The actual or threatened violence must have occurred within the past 120 days or be of a continuing nature,
- An applicant who lives in a violent neighborhood or is fearful of other violence outside the household is not considered involuntarily displaced,
- To qualify for this preference, the abuser must still reside in the unit from which the victim was displaced. The applicant must certify that the abuser will not reside with the applicant unless OHCD gives prior written approval.
- Approval is only granted if the abuser has received therapy or counseling that appears to minimize the recurrence of violent behavior or a counselor, therapist or other appropriate professional recommends in writing that the individual be allowed to reside with the family. If the abuser returns to the family without OHCD approval OHCD will deny or terminate assistance
Preference 2. Applicants who live or work in the County of Prince William.
Preference 3. Applicants who live or work in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Preference 4. Applicants who do not qualify for Preference 1, 2 or 3.
The waiting list is normally reviewed each year to make sure that the applicants are still interested.
- Who qualifies for these affordable housing programs? First eligibility is income. For Neighborhood Housing Rehab and First Time Homebuyer Program 80% of Area Median Income. For Housing Choice Voucher 70% called from Wait List must be at 30% or below AMI.
- How long is the waitlist for Section 8 and other housing programs? The waiting for Housing Choice Voucher Waiting List is 612 and originally when last opened Dec. 2010 was over 8,000. For Neighborhood Housing Rehab and First-Time Homebuyer there is no waiting list. What can we do locally to improve this? These are federal programs so the County cannot change the rules. If you are asking about programs to help renter or homeownership for people with incomes over 80% of AMI then the County would have to use local general funds for such a program.
- Due to HUD rules, my housing program has to be named on my rental application and lease. Due to this rule, I have been refused residence at apartment complexes across the county. What is being done to end this housing discrimination in the county? Yes to identify that you have additional income to support your rent. July 2020 a new provision was made to Fair Housing where landlords now cannot discriminate on the basis of source of income. In other words, the fact you have a voucher does not eliminate you from qualifying for a unit. It actually helps to make you income eligible. They have to count that income with your income to see if you qualify for a unit.
Thank you to all our panelists and to those living and working in Prince William County for your participation in this Town Hall. If you have additional concerns or questions, please contact our office at 703-792-4643.