In light of the current circumstances, National Community Development Week 2020 (April 13 – 17) has added significance in highlighting the critical benefits that the national Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and HOME Investment Partnership Program (HOME) bring to our community – both in times of emergency and in happier times – particularly for the county’s most vulnerable residents.
Historically, Fairfax County received somewhere between $5 and $10 million a year in CDBG and HOME funding to support a variety of housing initiatives and community services. Together, these programs provide essential funding to support neighborhood improvements, economic revitalization, community facilities and services, and the preservation of affordable housing. These funds provide direct assistance to the most vulnerable residents and improve the overall condition of neighborhoods throughout the county.
The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program provides grants to over 1,200 local governments to create neighborhood approaches that improve the physical, economic and social conditions in communities. Beginning in 1974, the CDBG program is one of the longest continuously run programs at HUD. Every $1.00 of CDBG leverages more than $4.00 in other funding; bringing additional vital resources to communities.
Fairfax County has been successful in utilizing CDBG funds to address public services over the last five years, including:
- 1,055 low-income renter households that were assisted through acquisition and/or rehabilitation projects of single or multi-unit properties for affordable housing
- 530 low-income households served by homeownership assistance programs
- 4,979 low-income households served by targeted public services programs – including such services as housing opportunities for the homeless or those at risk of becoming homeless; supportive services for older adults and individuals with disabilities; literacy, academic development, training and financial stability programs for those in need; and more.
The HOME Investment Partnership Program (HOME) provides grants to over 600 local participating jurisdictions to use – often in partnership with local nonprofit groups – to create safe, sanitary, and affordable housing in communities nationwide or providing direct rental assistance to low-income households. Every $1.00 of HOME leverages more than $4.00 in other funding.
Since 1992, all of the HOME funds received by Fairfax County have been leveraged to support numerous affordable housing projects ultimately creating or preserving units of affordable housing and providing rental assistance, including:
- 1,307 affordable rental units
- 102 affordable homeowner units
- 964 units provided with tenant-based rental assistance
CDBG, HOME Programs Are Critical for Achieving Our Affordable Housing Goals
In 2019, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors adopted the county’s Communitywide Housing Strategic Plan, which identifies both long and short term strategies, tools, policies and resources needed to develop and preserve affordable housing the county. One of the key components of that plan is the stated goal of producing a minimum of 5,000 new units of affordable housing within the next 15 years.
Given the anticipated budgetary impacts of the current COVID-19 Pandemic, and the fact that fiscal year 2021 will not included the long-anticipated enhanced investment in affordable housing as originally proposed, CDBG and HOME funds will play a vital role in helping Fairfax County achieve this goal.
“Despite the need to scale back what was originally a significant new investment in affordable housing due to the extenuating impacts of COVID-19, this does not mean that our work will not continue. We will continue to press forward on our housing preservation efforts and our existing pipeline of over 1,300 new affordable homes, and in making our affordable housing work more efficient in terms of how we make investments and land use policy.”
Tom Fleetwood, Director
Department of Housing and
Currently, CDBG and HOME funds are incorporated in 295 future affordable housing units, and almost $1 million is committed to direct rental assistance and public services programs that provide critical help to the county’s most vulnerable residents.
During fiscal year 2019, nonprofits competed for over $5 million in CDBG and HOME funds to finance innovative projects and services through the Fairfax County’s Department of Housing and Community Development’s annual Request for Proposals. Some examples of recent fund awards include:
Operation Renewed Hope Foundation (ORHF) was awarded $582,274 for the acquisition and rehabilitation of two single-family homes that serves veterans or veteran families with incomes at or below 50 percent of AMI. Substantial commitments of assistance from the community, including donations of materials and labor from: Helmets to Hardhats, HomeAid of NOVA, Home Depot, Renewal by Anderson Windows. Supportive services and case management are provided by ORHF.
Marian Homes, Inc. was awarded $450,000 to acquire and renovate their sixth single-family home in Fairfax County to provide community living for up to five individuals with intellectual disabilities, served by Chimes and the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Service Board (CSB), who are in need of specialized residential accommodations, particularly those that are aging and with household incomes at or below 30 percent of AMI.
Pathway Homes, Inc. was awarded $1,879,979 to acquire eleven one-bedroom condominium units to provide affordable housing and supportive services to individuals who are homeless or precariously housed with incomes at or below 30 percent of AMI and who have special needs related to mental illness, co-occurring substance abuse disorders and intellectual disorders. Supportive services and case management will be provided by Pathway.
Cornerstones Housing Corporation was awarded $336,000 to acquire two townhouse or condominium units in Reston, Herndon and Centreville. One serves an elderly household with an income at or below 30 percent of AMI and the second serves a household with an income at or below 50 percent of AMI.
Wesley Housing was awarded $957,351 for the development of 40 units of affordable housing that will have 32 units at 50 percent or below of AMI and eight units at 40 percent or below of AMI. The entire Arden Project utilizes multiple sources of financing including Low-Income Housing Tax Credits and Housing Blueprint funds and consists of new construction of a multi-family development with a total of 126 apartments and ground floor commercial space. This is on top of the $7.4 million already awarded to the project in local funds.
CARE Act: Country’s Response to COVID-19 Includes an Additional $3.5 Million in CDBG Funding to Fairfax County
Weeks ago, the U.S. Congress passed a $2.2 trillion funding package that included an additional $3.5 million in CDBG funding to Fairfax County to help respond to the impacts of COVID-19. The funds are expected to be available later this spring and the county is awaiting specific guidance from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development related to the implementation and use of these additional funds.
The county is also expecting to have access to approximately $8.5 million in federal funding during FY 2021 and recently concluded an extensive community engagement process to collect feedback and suggestions regarding the county’s One Year Action Plan for the use of these funds. The plan outlines three critical areas of planned investment:
- Acquire and preserve affordable housing for special needs and other income eligible households
- Fund housing program administrative costs and fair housing activities
- Fund public services and rent subsidies, including activities to be funded through the Consolidated Community Funding Pool and assistance for households experiencing homelessness
County Supervisors Proclaim April 13-17 to be “Community Development Week”
“The national observance of Community Development Week seeks to focus attention on the significant and vital benefits that are delivered to our community by virtue of two federal funding programs – CDBG and HOME. CDBG and HOME funds are utilized to galvanize a public-private response to their needs in the form of housing assistance and critical services and programs that promote self-sustainability, independence and personal and economic development.
As members of Congress will be meeting in the coming weeks decide the final funding appropriations of these two programs in Fiscal Year 2021, it is imperative to see the power these programs have for the most vulnerable residents of our community. Especially now as they face the most impact due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In these times of greatest need, we must protect and efficiently administer those resources that are primarily focused on providing opportunity, stability and protection for those within our community who are in greatest need.
As a county government entrusted with the administration of the resources afforded by the CDBG and HOME Programs, we continue to appreciate and recognize the value of these programs in fostering relationships among nonprofits, businesses, residents and local governments to ensure Fairfax County remains an exceptional place to live, work, play and do business.”
The Honorable Jeffrey McKay, Chairman
Fairfax County Board of Supervisors