Reflections from the 2023 Virginia Governor’s Housing Conference


“The missing middle.” “Make Virginia Home.” “Mission-focused housing development.”

Pictured: VFN staff members Patte Koval and Robin Mockenhaupt attend the Virginia Governor’s Housing Conference

These are a few of the terms VFN team members Patte Koval and Robin Mockenhaupt heard at the 2023 Virginia Governor’s Housing Conference, held November 15-17 in Hampton. The conference was sponsored by Virginia Housing (who VFN has received a generous grant from), the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), and Housing Forward. The conference brought together 1000+ professionals from throughout the Commonwealth to network, learn skills, and be inspired to transform Virginia’s communities into thriving, vibrant, and sustainable places for all. Many VFN members also sponsored and/or participated in the conference – Atlantic Union Bank, Bernardine Franciscan Sisters Foundation, Blocker Foundation, Community Foundation of the Central Blue Ridge, Community Foundation for a greater Richmond, Dominion Energy, Locus, Memorial Foundation for Children, Sentara Health, Serve Virginia, Virginia Community Action Partnership, Virginia Housing, and Wells Fargo. Did we miss anyone…please let us know!

Tom Barkin, Chair of the Richmond Federal Reserve, offered the opening keynote and talked about several important issues in housing including talent availability/access to workers and working with nontraditional partners like educational institutions and churches. He mentioned the important role of foundations in working with housing partners in communities to provide either “first dollar” or “final dollar” support. A summary of Barkin’s comments can be found here.

Breakout and SNAP sessions were held on a range of topics (e.g., rural development, rental and public housing, successful local housing summits, resilience and green housing, and community-centered participatory engagement). The Thursday luncheon featured Governor Youngkin who talked about the state’s housing plan to “Make Virginia Home.” The focus is to 1) increase the supply of land for housing, 2) remove regulatory barriers to housing development, and 3) align housing with economic growth. An example of the third priority is to fund housing at the same time the state supports an economic development project, so there is adequate housing for the workforce associated with that project. After his speech, 5 awards were given to housing projects around the Commonwealth. The winner of the Best Homeownership Development is the New Road Community Development Group, who will be speaking at VFN’s January 23 housing webinar. You can register for the session here.

We enjoyed the opportunity to meet individuals involved in housing from around the state and spoke with several potential new members and partners for VFN. We learned about communities and nonprofit partners who are creatively overcoming challenges to provide affordable and sustainable housing by working with new partners. We hope to build on these connections and this information made possible through our Virginia Housing grant, including sponsoring a plenary session on housing at the May annual conference.

Next year’s conference will be held at the Virginia Beach Convention Center from November 13-15, 2024, and we hope to see more VFN members at that event.