Affordable Housing Myths and Truths

Myth: Affordable housing looks cheap and undesirable.

Truth: Well-designed, managed and maintained affordable housing is an asset to the community.

With affordable housing, public and private funds are used to help make units less costly to rent or buy, not because the housing is lower quality construction. 

Newly built affordable housing has high standards for the quality and durability of building materials used, energy efficiency standards and amenities provided and is often indistinguishable from market rate housing.

Seaside Harbor Apartments

Seaside Harbor serves households with incomes ranging from 40% to 60% of the area median income. Nineteen units are accessible to people with physical disabilities and 11 units are designated for families with members who have developmental disabilities.

Seaside Harbor apartment complex

Myth: Only households who have very low or limited incomes need affordable housing.

Truth: Households who pay more than 30% of their gross, pre-tax income for their total housing costs are considered housing cost-burdened. This means many types of households - homeowners and renters - at different income levels can need affordable housing.

Households who can benefit from affordable housing include, but are not limited to:

  • Persons who are unable to work due to a disabling condition.
  • Young adults entering the workforce.
  • Seniors who want to age in place or downsize to a smaller home.
  • Single-parent families.
  • Families and individuals experiencing homelessness.

Having affordable options for all different household types and needs require diverse housing options in the city.

Renaissance Apartments

Renaissance Apartments is a mixed-income community that provides 192 units of affordable housing and 48 market rate housing units. The affordable units are rented to households with incomes below 60% of area median income. Ten units are designated for disabled families and supported by vouchers that make them affordable to families with very low incomes.

Renaissance apartment complex

Myth: Only communities with a public housing authority offer affordable housing.

Truth: While there is no public housing authority in Virginia Beach, there are affordable housing opportunities in the city.

There are currently about 4,755 affordable multi-family rental units in Virginia Beach and about 100 affordable townhome, condominium or single-family homes scattered in neighborhoods throughout the city. These units are privately-owned.

About 3,275 of these units are rented to households with incomes at or below 60% of the area median income (AMI) and the units are rented at below market rents and do not have any project-based rental subsidy. The remaining 1,580 units are assisted with project-based rental subsidy, meaning the assistance is tied to the unit.

One third of the affordable units are for seniors, 5% are for persons who are homeless or disabled and 61% are open to any income-qualified household.

Each year, the City’s Department of Housing and Neighborhood Preservation receives federal resources from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Since 2000, the City has contributed $10.1 million of these federal funds and $5.3 million of City funding towards the development and rehabilitation of affordable rental housing. Together, this funding has created 1,280 affordable rental housing units and rehabilitated 413.

Housing and Neighborhood Preservation also administers various housing assistance programs to help people obtain, maintain or sustain their housing, including the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program, Home Rehabilitation Programs and homelessness prevention programs.