Governor McAuliffe announces $420,000 for Virginia Community Business Launch grants

Governor Terry McAuliffe announced today $420,000 in Virginia Community Business Launch (CBL) grants for the towns of Pulaski, Vinton, Marion and Strasburg, as well as the cities of Lynchburg, Petersburg and Martinsville. CBL is designed to assist communities in taking a systems approach to defining and pursuing an asset-based small business development strategy.

Speaking about today’s announcement, Governor McAuliffe said, “Through the Community Business Launch program, we are helping our communities develop a healthy entrepreneurial ecosystem where community-based businesses will continue to grow and thrive.  In order to grow, diversify and build a new Virginia economy, we must focus on small business development in communities across the Commonwealth.”

The CBL program starts with a community’s unique vision for its future and then uses a local business competition to find and foster the entrepreneurs that connect with that vision. CBL provides the tools to effectively prepare multiple entrepreneurs to operate successful businesses in a downtown or neighborhood commercial district and allow them to compete for funding to launch their new endeavor.

“Entrepreneurism is one of our key strategies for diversifying and growing the economy in all parts of the Commonwealth,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones.  “The Community Business Launch program was a success in its first year, helping to launch or expand more than 14 businesses in three communities across the state.  We look forward to more business creation as a result of these investments.”

While only a limited number of entrepreneurs may win the business competitions, CBL will give rise to many budding entrepreneurs that have been prepared, through the CBL initiative, to be successful businesses. In addition, it will help communities begin to develop a coordinated, comprehensive sustainable environment that identifies, launches and supports community-based entrepreneurs and small business at all levels of development.

2016 Virginia Community Business Launch Grantees:

Locality Organization/Applicant CBL Award
Town of Pulaski Beans and Rice Inc. $60,000
City of Martinsville Martinsville-Henry County Chamber’s Partnership for Economic Growth $60,000
Town of Vinton The Advancement Foundation $60,000
Town of Marion Town of Marion $60,000
Town of Strasburg Town of Strasburg $60,000
City of Petersburg City of Petersburg $60,000
City of Lynchburg City of Lynchburg $60,000

Governor McAuliffe Announces Winners of the 2015 Virginia Housing Awards

Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced the five winners of the 2015 Virginia Housing Awards, which were announced at the Virginia Governor’s Housing Conference. The Virginia Housing Awards were given to several organizations and government entities throughout the Commonwealth to recognize their extraordinary efforts to address affordable housing challenges in Virginia.

“Creating a stable place for our residents to live is a key component in our efforts to build a new Virginia economy,” said Governor McAuliffe. “These housing awards recognize outstanding and innovative efforts in crafting effective solutions for the Commonwealth’s complex array of housing needs.  I applaud the winners for the great work they are doing.”

The Governor’s Housing Conference is Virginia’s largest and most comprehensive affordable housing event. The three-day event features workshops and sessions designed to help public and private sector representatives develop effective housing solutions in Virginia. Nearly 800 affordable housing advocates, providers and policy makers gather each year at the conference.

“Providing affordable housing for Virginians is critical for creating and maintaining healthy communities and contributing to economic growth,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones. “I congratulate the award recipients and thank them for their efforts to provide housing all across the Commonwealth.”

In addition to the housing awards, the 2015 Outstanding Youth Award winner was recognized for making a positive impact in their community, and the first-ever Blueprint for the Future design competition winners were announced.  The Blueprint competition was open to students, amateurs and professionals in the design arena for the design of a home that meets affordability, energy and accessibility. The Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development partnered with Blueprint partner organizations, including EarthCraft Virginia, Virginia Home Builders Association, Virginia Building and Code Officials Association, Easy Living Virginia and Virginia Housing Development Authority. The winning design is being built as a Habitat for Humanity home in Hampton for a veteran.

Winners of the 2015 Virginia Housing Awards: 

Best Housing Development


Harrisonburg Redevelopment and Housing Authority

Project: Commerce Village


Best Housing Program or Service


St. Joseph’s Villa

Project: Flagler Rapid Re-housing Services


Best Housing Preservation/Revitalization Effort


Albemarle Housing Improvement Program and the city of Charlottesville

Project: Block-by-Block Charlottesville


Best Affordable Housing Energy Conservation Effort


Community Housing Partners

Project: Grissom Lane Apartments


Best In My Backyard “IMBY”


Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority and the Fairfax County Department of Housing and Community Development

Project: Fairfax County Affordable Dwelling Unit Program


Blueprint for the Future


First Place Winner

Christopher Eads


Second Place/Student Scholarship Winner

Alex Eitler


Third Place Winner

Anthony Ripper


Outstanding Youth Award


Bobby Justice

Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development Director Bill Shelton receives Excellence in Virginia Government Award

Today, Bill Shelton, director of the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Excellence in Virginia Government Awards (EVGA) Luncheon hosted by the Virginia Commonwealth University L. Douglas Wilder School. This award recognizes a Virginian whose career represents the highest values of public service and citizenship and who has made a substantial contribution to the good of the commonwealth.

“I cannot think of a more deserving individual to receive this award than Bill Shelton,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones. “He has spent more than 30 years in public service, and his work has made a difference to people and communities all over the commonwealth. I am grateful to him for his commitment and faithfulness. It has been an honor and a pleasure to work with him.”

Shelton has served as the director of DHCD for 17 years of his 37-year state government career. He is responsible for the management and policy oversight of the agency, which provides community development and housing program support to communities across the commonwealth. The department also administers statewide building codes.

Among his many accomplishments, Shelton helped launch Virginia Community Capital, one of the leading community development banks in the U.S., with assets exceeding $133 million. He also has a strong commitment to water quality and availability in Southwest Virginia. Shelton is an ex-officio member of the board of commissioners of the Virginia Housing Development Authority and serves on the board of Virginia Community Capital Inc.  He also serves as the governor’s state alternate for the Appalachian Regional Commission.

Virginia is the First State in the Nation to Functionally End Veteran Homelessness

Today Governor Terry McAuliffe announced that Virginia has been certified by the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs as the first state in the nation to functionally end veteran homelessness.  Speaking at a Veterans Day ceremony at the Virginia War Memorial alongside U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro, Governor McAuliffe declared that Virginia has housed 1,432 homeless veterans since October 2014.

“On a day when we remember those who fought and died for our nation, I am proud to proclaim that Virginia is leading the way in the fight to end veteran homelessness,” said Governor McAuliffe. “This is an important victory in our ongoing efforts to make our Commonwealth the best place on earth for veterans to live, work and raise a family. However, we must remain committed to keeping homelessness among veterans, and, all Virginians, rare, brief and non-recurring. This successful effort will serve as the launching pad for our next goal of functionally ending chronic homelessness among all Virginians by the end of 2017.”

The announcement is the culmination of efforts that began when Governor McAuliffe committed Virginia to First Lady Michelle Obama’s Mayor’s Challenge to End Veteran Homelessnessin June 2014 and pledged to end veteran homelessness by the end of 2015.

Since signing on, 20 mayors and county chairs throughout Virginia have publicly declared their commitment to achieving the goals of the Mayor’s Challenge, and communities throughout Virginia have successfully housed veterans through two consecutive 100 Day Challenges in partnership with Community Solutions and the Rapid Results Institute.

Communities throughout Virginia have made vast improvements in their homelessness response and housing assistance systems. By using evidenced-based tools for triaging the needs of identified veterans, making both rapid re-housing and permanent supportive housing resources available, as well as incorporating the principles of Housing First throughout the entire spectrum of housing assistance for a veteran, these systems have been streamlined to help a veteran experiencing homelessness to quickly secure permanent housing.

The availability and provision of supportive services to help veterans maintain stability within their new homes have been equally critical in this effort. By implementing efficient homelessness response systems across the state, Virginia has ensured that any veteran’s experience with homelessness either now or in the future will be rare, brief, and non-recurring.

The effort to end Virginia homelessness relied on partnerships with regional Veterans Affairs Medical Centers, local housing continua of care (CoC) providers, Supportive Services for Veterans Families (SSVF) programs and local public housing authorities. The increased level of coordination, collaboration, and communication at the state level among such partners as the Virginia Department of Veterans Services, Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness, Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, Virginia Housing Development Authority, Governor’s Coordinating Council on Homelessness.

Key federal partners included: the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and the Department of Labor (DOL).

“Virginia is grateful to have such collaborative relationships with our community based, state and federal level partners,” said John Harvey, Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs.  “We must remain committed to effectively and freely communicating and collaborating in order to keep our veterans homelessness response and housing assistance systems fully functional and sustainable over the long haul”.

Additionally, by engaging with non-traditional partners, such as Dominion Virginia Power and Appalachian Power Company, Virginia is continuing to expand the depth of the supportive networks in place to help veterans to continue living in their homes.

Governor McAuliffe Announces $500,000 in Telecommunication Planning Grants

Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced $500,000 in grants through the Virginia Telecommunication Planning Initiative (VATPI) for Albemarle, Augusta, Culpeper, New Kent, Bland and Pulaski counties and the town of Altavista. Two joint grants were also awarded to two regional projects including one for Bath and Highland counties and another for Alleghany, Botetourt and Craig counties, the city of Covington and the town of Clifton Forge. The VATPI program provides funding for communities to develop a comprehensive community-based telecommunications plan.

“Access to high-quality Internet connectivity is one of the most critical tools for communities to grow, diversify and build a new Virginia economy,” said Governor McAuliffe. “Providing adequate telecommunications in a community is essential for preparing our students and workforce, attracting businesses, improving medical services and providing a better quality of life for all Virginians.”

“Quick, reliable and affordable access to the Internet is a prerequisite for community and economic development efforts throughout the Commonwealth,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones. “The Virginia Telecommunication Planning Initiative will help localities develop the telecommunications plan necessary to prosper in the 21st century economy.”

Projects were selected through a two-phased process. Phase one was a letter of interest, and phase two was a detailed response. Twenty-two letters of interest were received, representing 43 communities. Of those 22 letters of interest, 13 applicants were selected to participate in phase II.

Funding for the grants is allocated in a three-tier system. Tier one included grants up to $75,000, tier two has grants for up to $50,000, and tier three has grants up to $35,000. The level of funding awarded is based on the telecommunication planning needs of the communities. Thirteen applications totaling more than $800,000 in funding were received.

The following projects were awarded funding through the 2015 Virginia Telecommunication Planning Initiative program:


Tier Level Funding Locality Award
Tier I Albemarle County $ 75,000
Tier I Augusta County $75,000
Tier I Culpeper County $75,000
Tier I New Kent County $75,000
Tier II Bland County $50,000
Tier II Alleghany, Botetourt and Craig counties, city of Covington and town of Clifton Forge* $50,000
Tier II Pulaski County $40,000
Tier III Bath and Highland counties* $30,000
Tier III Town of Altavista $30,000

*Regional project

Weatherization Day Proclamation 2015

WHEREAS, Virginia has a long-standing commitment to conserve its energy resources and to help low-income households through the Weatherization Assistance Program; and

WHEREAS, theVirginia Department of Housing and Community Development has administered the Weatherization Assistance Program since its inception in 1976, providing a variety of state and federal resources through 19 community action agencies, housing authorities, and departments of local government that serve people in every city and county in the Commonwealth; and

WHEREAS, the program has produced energy cost reductions in more than 44,800 homes in Virginia, affecting thousands of people, many of whom are elderly, disabled or children; and

WHEREAS, the Weatherization Program’s local service providers consider weatherization a vital part of their overall effort to provide a cost-effective permanent solution for reducing the heavy energy burden on low-income Virginians and provide affordable and safe housing for all; and

WHEREAS, the Weatherization Program not only assists in reducing energy costs and providing efficient housing, but also contributes more broadly to the improvements and progress of communities by eliminating carbon emissions, stimulating local economies, creating jobs, and stabilizing neighborhoods; and

WHEREAS, it is important to recognize the importance of these programs that ensure that all residents have the opportunity to live in energy-efficient, healthy, safe, and comfortable homes across the Commonwealth; and

WHEREAS, October is National Energy Awareness Month, and October 30 is designated as National Weatherization Day; and

WHEREAS, National Weatherization Day is an opportunity to focus local, state, and national attention on the benefits of weatherization and the work being performed by the dedicated members of the Weatherization Assistance Program;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Terence R. McAuliffe, do hereby recognize October 30, 2015, as WEATHERIZATION DAY in the COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, and I call this observance to the attention of all our citizens.

Governor McAuliffe Announces $300,000 Community Development Block Grant for Albemarle County

Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced a $300,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) for Albemarle County for the Oak Hill Sanitary Sewer Phase II project through the CDBG Construction Ready Water and Sewer Fund.  The Albemarle County project will provide new public sewer service to the Oak Hill subdivision, alleviating the reliance on aging septic systems that were built in the 1960s.

Speaking about today’s announcement, Governor McAuliffe said, “The CDBG program has been an important tool to address infrastructure needs like water and sewer in many of our communities throughout the Commonwealth.  We must continue to invest in projects that provide critical infrastructure in order to build a new Virginia economy and make Virginia a great place to live, work and play.”

“We are committed to providing the necessary resources to our communities across Virginia,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones. “By combining state and local funding, we are ensuring that this community has safe and affordable water, and this will ensure a better quality of life for the residents.”

The project is expected to benefit 20 households, with 17 of those households being low- to moderate-income. The sewer service is funded under the CDBG Construction Ready Water and Sewer Fund, which provides assistance to projects providing public water or sewer service to communities made up of at least 60 percent low- to moderate-income households. Funds are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis from January 1 through the end of September.

“We very much appreciate the state’s support in making completion of this critical infrastructure system possible for a neighborhood in need in the County, and we look forward to continued partnership with the Governor’s Office and the Community Development Block Grant program to address future infrastructure concerns in our community,” said Jane Dittmar, chair of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors.

Since 1982, the federally-funded CDBG program has been administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, and Virginia receives up to $17 million annually for this grant program. Most CDBG grant funds are awarded through a competitive process.