Executive summary

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Key takeaways

  • Lower cost-of-living, diverse job opportunities, and natural amenities make CVPDC region highly attractive.
  • Important economic and familial connections will degrade without proactive steps to increase availability and affordability of housing options.
  • Many opportunities to expand ongoing successes and begin new strategic initiatives.

Study goals

The three goals of this study were to:

  1. Engage local partners to begin (and grow) conversations about region’s housing goals,
  2. Determine how well the region’s housing market is meeting current and future needs of residents, and
  3. Design regional and local solutions to address challenges via policy, programs, and other initiatives

Study process

The study began in late 2022 when HousingForward Virginia held listening sessions with staff from various departments and agencies throughout local governments in the region. This input, along with additional stakeholder focus groups, data analysis, and policy evaluation, led to preliminary ideas for policy solutions in 2023. HousingForward Virginia collaborated with CVPDC and local representatives to develop full drafts of these recommendations, which were incorporated into the study’s complete draft in late 2023. Following its approval, the final study was finished and released in March 2024.


More than 50 policymakers, practitioners, experts, and advocates provided input that contributed to the results and recommendations in this study. These stakeholders included:

  • Local government staff from planning, economic development, social services, and community development departments,
  • Residential real estate and listing agents,
  • Housing and service providers,
  • Homebuilders and developers, and
  • Major institutional and private sector employers.

Direct engagement with community members via public meetings and surveys was beyond the scope of this study. However, specific recommendations for further public engagement are incorporated into the policy solutions found in this study.

Major findings

Analysis of data on households, jobs, and the housing market reveal several important ways that demographic and economic trends are currently shaping housing opportunity in the region.

How the region is changing

  • Recent population growth is the direct result of people moving into the region.
  • Most new households rent their home. The number of homeowners in the region has remained steady for the past decade.
  • The average household is becoming older and smaller.
  • Inflation and rising housing costs are zeroing out income gains, especially among lower-wage workers.

How the housing market is changing

  • Production of new homes remains a fraction of pre-2008 levels.
  • Modest starter homes—ideal for first-time homebuyers and smaller households—have become rare prizes.
  • The recent era of low interest rates helped accelerate demand. Without a commensurate increase in supply, housing prices climbed significantly.
  • A very tight rental market poses challenging for both current and prospective tenants.
  • Housing cost burden is not improving for households who earn less than half of the regional average, especially seniors with fixed incomes.

Rating current efforts

HousingForward Virginia identified and evaluated 17 different housing-focused policies and programs across the region. For each initiative, a recommendation was made to either either Continue, Reevaluate, or Stop the effort.

  • Most initiatives showed at least some capacity to improve housing opportunities.
  • Some efforts are well-designed but clearly underpowered. Examples include a pilot program to remediate blight and ongoing eviction diversion activities.
  • Other initiatives demonstrated various inefficiencies, competing priorities, and missed opportunities. Examples include building code enforcement and short-term rental regulations.
  • None of the 17 different efforts were found to be without merit. The region has a solid foundation for expanding its ability to expand housing supply and opportunity in every community.