Governor McAuliffe gave a lively, energetic speech to 700+ enthusiastic housers last Thursday during his first visit to the Virginia Governor’s Housing Conference. Just returned from a trade mission to Asia the evening before, McAuliffe frequently made the connection between housing and his pursuit of jobs and economic development for the Commonwealth. Here are some highlights from the speech:
He began his remarks on housing by pledging to be the first Virginia Governor ever to attend the Housing Conference in every year of his term.
Housing and Economic Development
McAuliffe talked about a host of issues on his plate, including economic development and transportation, but noted that “none of these other issues matter if we don’t have a strong housing market… housing is of critical importance”. He noted that in Virginia, the housing industry contributes $71 billion to the state’s economy – 16% of the state GDP.
“Companies looking to locate in Virginia need to know that good affordable is available for their employees”.
He also talked about how important housing is to individual development and success – “a stable roof over your head helps you to advance”.
“There are 8,400 homeless Virginians – 10% of them are veterans. On any given night, 617 vets do not have a roof over their head. These are men and women who have served us. The least we can do is provide housing for them.”
The Governor committed that “by the end of 2015 – not one single veteran is homeless in Virginia”. He asked the help of those in the audience to make this a reality.
Who Needs Good Housing
He cited a number of groups in the Commonwealth with significant housing needs, including seniors and persons with disabilities. He noted that “1/3 of young people return home to live with parents” due to a shortage of housing that they can afford.
He noted “correcting these issues will make life better for all of us”.
The Virginia Housing Trust Fund
The Governor described his actions to keep the funding for the Housing Trust Fund in the budget and he criticized the General assembly for removing it. He described the success from the first round of HTF funding. “I am going to keep fighting for this money because it is so important”.
The Next Three Years
McAuliffe concluded his remarks by signing Executive Order 32. He noted that the EO reflected “a focused state housing policy agenda and a renewed commitment to meeting housing goals… I intend to make significant progress on this issue during my time in office … patience is not a virtue of mine.”
He finished by noting “You have an ally in the Governor’s office on housing policy … my door is open to great new ideas”.