SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA (WFXR) — Affordable housing remains a large issue for many areas around the country, and southwest Virginia is no exception. People are being priced out of their homes, so WFXR News dug deeper into the root of this issue.
Mortgage rates and home prices are up, impacting what buyers can afford. On top of that, one local realtor shared that limited inventory is adding to the chaos.
“Buyers are trending, still putting over-ask offers in, forgoing home inspections sometimes, which I don’t suggest to buyers, but is still happening,” said Joshua Desfordes, owner of J&D Realty Team with MKB Realtors. “It’s really a seller’s market. There’s no inventory. There’s more buyers than there are houses,” said Joshua Desforges, owner of J&D Realty Team with MKB realtors.
Many want to stay where they are but are forced to move because they can’t afford where they’re living.
Total Action for Progress (TAP) tried to help a disabled senior citizen in Roanoke get a new apartment. This particular resident’s rent was increasing from $500 a month to $1200.
President and CEO of TAP, Annette Lewis, said they tried for months to find her a place to live, but she passed away before they could find her affordable housing.
Her story is just one of many.
The City of Roanoke has commissioned studies that confirm it is several thousand, as many as 4,500, units short of what’s needed for the population.
Chris Chittum, the Executive Director of Community Development and Place-Making for the city, said plainly that Roanoke needs more housing.
“We’ve seen over the past couple of years a kind of tightening or a very low supply of rental housing, especially affordable housing in those lower bands,” said Chris Chittum.
Chittum isn’t the only one witnessing this need.
“Last year, they had open enrollment for section eight. Over 4,500 people applied and they only had enough vouchers for about two thousand people. That tells you something,” said Lewis.
In January, the city council gave the green light for Roanoke’s largest proposed apartment complex. The complex would include 768 market-rate apartments that would include one, two, and three-bedroom units.
There are many new builds across the city, some catering to the need for affordable housing more than others. Wilton is a single-family subdivision, currently under construction. WFXR found houses listed for more than $750,000.
For more affordable options, the city plans to rezone certain neighborhoods to allow for more than just single-family homes. According to Chittum, there are currently 28,000 stand-alone houses across Roanoke.
“We’re also looking at a number of zoning changes that will make it easier to develop multi-family small apartment buildings around the city,” said Chittum.
The vision is similar to the Raliegh Court area, which already has a neighborhood mixed with single-family homes and small apartment buildings.
“We’re looking at where we may be able to allow, reasonably and responsibly, duplexes, triplexes quadplexes, and even up to eight-unit apartment buildings,” said Chittum.
Something they’re also working on is what he calls “accessory dwelling units” or apartments that are in the backyard of a family’s home.
These are just a few of the ways the city is addressing the current housing crisis.
Chittum added this crisis didn’t happen overnight, decisions from the past 50 to 70 years have contributed to current issues. Chittum believes 95 percent of the city’s land is already developed, leaving little room for solutions.
This issue is forcing leaders to get creative, so that one day, everyone has a roof over their heads and a place to call home.
Total Action for Progress offers the following resources for those struggling to find affordable housing:
- Veterans Services
- Transitional Housing for Domestic Violence Services
- Housing Counseling
Click on the links above to determine if you qualify for these programs.