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Granting Freedom

Monday, October 10, 2005

  • Governor Warners Office

Office of the Governor

Governor September 15, 2005

Contact: Kevin Hall
Phone: (804) 225-4260
Cell Phone: (804) 393-9406

~ Governor recounts forward momentum in safe and affordable housing in Va.~

ROANOKE - Governor Mark R. Warner today announced Granting Freedom, a home modification program for soldiers injured or disabled in the current military conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Granting Freedom will provide grants up to $4,000 per home or rental unit to make home accessibility improvements and modifications. The Virginia Housing Development Authority and the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development will administer the program. The Governor announced the program during his keynote address at the 2005 Governor?s Housing Conference at the Hotel Roanoke today.

"Virginia has a proud military tradition and one of the nation?s largest
veteran and active-duty population, and these servicemen and women deserve our gratitude and support,? Governor Warner said. ?As a Commonwealth, we?ve been working to increase accessible housing in Virginia. This program will expand on those efforts and help ease the burden for Virginia?s wounded soldiers who?ve sacrificed so much serving our nation.?

Granting Freedom fills a gap in existing services. Currently, disabled
veterans receive federal assistance in modifying a home they own, but this assistance has not been available until now for rental housing. Granting Freedom is available to servicemen and women, including active duty, Reserve, and National Guard soldiers wounded in current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Privately-owned and rental homes, including apartments, are eligible for the program. Grants for up to $4,000 per housing unit will available for accessibility improvements, including widened doorways, lower counters, wheelchair ramps, grab bars, and other modifications. Applicants will be approved for the program through a hospital rehabilitation officer, Commanding Officer, Veterans Affairs, or Family Assistance Centers.

Currently the program has just over $1 million in private and public
funding. During the conference, Governor Warner announced that Wachovia is the first private company to contribute to the program. Program administrators will continue fundraising for the program.

In addition, Governor Warner?s Housing Conference remarks noted the
unprecedented coordination between state, local, nonprofit, and faith-based organizations to rapidly transform Fort Pickett into a shelter and one-stop shop of services for Hurricane Katrina evacuees.

?In less than 72 hours, Virginia?s public, private, and faith-based partners
came together to create a welcoming, full-service shelter and support system at Fort Pickett, and this effort has resulted in a model for how Virginia and other states can mobilize quickly to accommodate large numbers of displaced people,? Governor Warner said. ?Virginia is ready to assist when needed, and the new community assembled at Fort Pickett is a testament to creative thinking, hard work, and serves as a model for disaster preparedness and recovery.?

The Governor?s speech marked his third address to the Governor?s Housing Conference, Virginia?s largest and most comprehensive affordable housing event. Governor Warner highlighted significant accomplishments that have been made since 2002 to improve and increase housing options in Virginia including:

? Announced $750,000 in funding from DHCD to Habitat for Humanity to help more than 100 families become homeowners.

? Eliminated the VHDA Family Rule to help increase the pool of
potential homeowners.

? Created a community development bank to provide financing for
affordable housing projects. This new financing initiative will be
finalized by the end the year.

? Launched the VHDA Genesis Project to increase minority
homeownership. The pilot project in Richmond has helped 110 families become homeowners. The initiative will expand to the Hampton Roads area in 2006.

? Created the Policy Council on Chronic Homelessness.

? Modified the statewide rehabilitation code to allow greater
flexibility in the safe and affordable redevelopment of historic and older
buildings and homes.

? Made approximately $500 million in VHDA financing available to
assist military families and others with housing needs associated with the
BRAC Oceana decision.

? Created the Virginia Housing Registry of accessible housing and
accompanying Web site -

? In 2005, the Governor introduced and the General Assembly approved landmark assisted living reform legislation to improve the quality of housing and care for seniors.

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