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Code of Virginia
Title 36. Housing
Chapter 1. Housing Authorities Law
11/27/2022

Article 1. General Provisions.

§ 36-1. Title of chapter.

This chapter may be referred to as the "Housing Authorities Law."

1938, p. 447; Michie Code 1942, § 3145(1).

§ 36-2. Findings and declaration of necessity.

A. It is hereby found and declared that:

1. Blighted areas exist in the Commonwealth, and these areas endanger the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of the Commonwealth;

2. The elimination of blight and redevelopment of blighted areas through the designation of redevelopment areas and the adoption and implementation of redevelopment plans for such areas; the prevention of further deterioration and blight through the designation of conservation areas and the adoption and implementation of conservation plans for such areas; and the designation of individual properties as blighted under the "spot blight" provisions of this chapter are public uses and purposes for which public money may be spent and private property acquired by purchase or through the exercise of the power of eminent domain as authorized by this chapter, and are governmental functions of grave concern to the Commonwealth;

3. As a part of a redevelopment or conservation plan, it is a public purpose to provide public facilities including, but not limited to, roads, water, sewers, parks, and real estate devoted to open-space use as that term is defined in § 58.1-3230 within redevelopment and conservation areas; and

4. It is a public purpose to promote the availability of affordable housing for all citizens of the Commonwealth and in particular to provide safe, decent, and sanitary housing for those citizens with low or moderate incomes. To that end, (i) the clearance, replanning, and reconstruction of the areas in which unsanitary or unsafe housing conditions exist and the providing of safe and sanitary dwelling accommodations for persons of low or moderate income and (ii) the sale or lease of land and the acquisition, construction, rehabilitation, and operation of residential housing units for persons of low and moderate incomes are necessary for the public welfare and are public uses and public purposes for which public money may be spent and private property acquired by purchase or through the exercise of the power of eminent domain as authorized in this chapter and are governmental functions of grave concern to the Commonwealth.

B. The necessity and the public purpose for the provisions hereinafter enacted are hereby declared as a matter of legislative determination.

1938, p. 447; Michie Code 1942, § 3145(2); 2006, c. 784.

§ 36-3. Definitions.

The following terms, when used or referred to in this chapter, shall have the following respective meanings, unless a different meaning clearly appears from the context:

"Area of operation" means an area that (i) in the case of a housing authority of a city, shall be coextensive with the territorial boundaries of the city; (ii) in the case of a housing authority of a county, shall include all of the county, except that portion which lies within the territorial boundaries of (a) any city, and (b) any town that has created a housing authority pursuant to this chapter; (iii) in the case of a housing authority of a town, shall be coextensive with the territorial boundaries of the town as herein defined.

"Authority" or "housing authority" means any of the political subdivisions created by § 36-4.

"Blighted area" means any area that endangers the public health, safety or welfare; or any area that is detrimental to the public health, safety, or welfare because commercial, industrial, or residential structures or improvements are dilapidated, or deteriorated or because such structures or improvements violate minimum health and safety standards. This definition includes, without limitation, areas previously designated as blighted areas pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 1 (§ 36-1 et seq.) of this title.

"Blighted property" means any individual commercial, industrial, or residential structure or improvement that endangers the public's health, safety, or welfare because the structure or improvement upon the property is dilapidated, deteriorated, or violates minimum health and safety standards, or any structure or improvement previously designated as blighted pursuant to § 36-49.1:1, under the process for determination of "spot blight."

"Bonds" means any bonds, notes, interim certificates, debentures, or other obligations issued by an authority pursuant to this chapter.

"City" means the same as that term is defined in § 15.2-102.

"Clerk" means the clerk or secretary of the city or the clerk of the county, as the case may be, or the officer charged with the duties customarily imposed on such clerk.

"Conservation area" means an area, designated by an authority that is in a state of deterioration and in the early stages of becoming a blighted area, as defined in this section, or any area previously designated as a conservation area pursuant to this chapter.

"County" means the same as that term is defined in § 15.2-102.

"Derelict building" means the same as that term as defined in § 15.2-907.1 or in § 36-152.

"Farm structure" means the same as that term is defined in § 36-97.

"Farmers of low income" means persons of low income who derive their principal income from operating or working on a farm.

"Federal government" means the United States of America, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, or any other agency or instrumentality, corporate or otherwise, of the United States of America.

"Governing body" means, in the case of a city or town, the council (including both branches where there are two), and in the case of a county, the board of supervisors or other governing body.

"Housing project," means any work or undertaking: (i) to demolish, clear or remove buildings from any slum area; such work or undertaking may embrace the adoption of such area to public purposes, including parks or other recreational or community purposes; or (ii) to provide decent, safe and sanitary urban or rural dwellings, apartments or other living accommodations for persons of low and moderate income; such work or undertaking may include buildings, land, equipment, facilities and other real or personal property for necessary, convenient or desirable appurtenances, streets, sewers, water service, parks, site preparation, gardening, administrative, community, health, recreational, welfare or other purposes; or (iii) to accomplish a combination of the foregoing. The term "housing project" also may be applied to the planning of the buildings and improvements, the acquisition of property, the demolition of existing structures or improvements, the construction, reconstruction, alteration and repair of the improvements and all other work in connection therewith.

"Locality" means the same as that term is defined in § 15.2-102.

"Obligee of the authority" or "obligee" means any bondholder, trustee or trustees for any bondholders, or lessor demising to the authority property used in connection with a project, or any assignee or assignees of such lessor's interest or any part thereof, and the federal government when it is a party to any contract with the authority.

"Persons of low income" means persons or families determined by the authority to lack the amount of income which is necessary to enable them to live in decent, safe and sanitary dwellings.

"Persons of moderate income" means persons or families determined by the authority to lack the amount of income necessary to obtain affordable housing.

"Real property" means all lands, including improvements and fixtures thereon, and property of any nature appurtenant thereto, or used in connection therewith, and every estate, interest and right, legal or equitable, therein, including terms for years and liens by way of judgment, mortgage or otherwise and the indebtedness secured by such liens.

"Redevelopment area" means an area (including slum areas), designated by an authority, that is in a state of blight that meets the criteria of a blighted area as defined in this section; or any area previously designated as a redevelopment area pursuant to this chapter.

"Slum" means any area where dwellings predominate that, by reason of dilapidation, overcrowding, lack of ventilation, light or sanitary facilities, or any combination of these factors, is detrimental to safety, health, or morals.

"Spot blight" means a structure or improvement that is a blighted property as defined in this section.

"Spot blight abatement plan" means the written plan prepared by the owner or owners of record of the real property to address spot blight. If the owner or owners of record of the real property fail to respond as provided in § 36-49.1:1, the locality or the authority can prepare a spot blight abatement plan to address the spot blight with respect to an individual commercial, industrial, or residential structure or improvement, but may only implement such plan in accordance with the provisions of § 36-49.1:1.

"Town" means the same as that term is defined in § 15.2-102.

1938, p. 447; Michie Code 1942, § 3145(3); 1966, c. 129; 2006, c. 784; 2009, cc. 181, 551.

§ 36-4. Creation of redevelopment and housing authorities.

In each locality there is hereby created a political subdivision of the Commonwealth, with such public and corporate powers as are set forth in this chapter, to be known respectively as the "__________ (insert name of locality) Redevelopment and Housing Authority" or by an appropriate name and title to be determined by each locality (hereinafter referred to as "authority"); provided, however, that any authority not now activated shall not transact any business or exercise any powers authorized under this chapter until or unless the qualified voters of such locality shall, by a majority vote of such qualified voters voting in a referendum held as provided in § 36-4.1, indicate a need for an authority to function in such locality. The referendum to determine whether or not there is a need for an authority to function (i) may be called by the governing body by resolution or (ii) shall be called by the governing body upon the filing of a petition signed by at least two percent of the qualified voters registered in the jurisdiction, asserting that there is need for an authority to function in such locality and requesting the governing body to call such referendum.

The governing body may by resolution call for a referendum to determine whether there is need for an authority in the locality if the governing body believes it is appropriate for one of the reasons set out in § 36-2. In the case of a town located within the county, the town council shall first obtain the concurrence of the governing body of the county and the county redevelopment and housing authority prior to scheduling a referendum.

In any suit, action, or proceeding involving the validity or enforcement of or relating to any contract of the authority, the authority shall be conclusively deemed to have become established and authorized to transact business and exercise its powers hereunder if the voters of the locality have so indicated in a referendum held pursuant to § 36-4.1 that there is need for the authority.

1938, p. 448; Michie Code 1942, § 3145(4); 1946, p. 276; 1947, p. 138; 1952, c. 427; 1958, c. 533; 2006, c. 784; 2009, c. 78; 2022, c. 158.

§ 36-4.1. Holding of referendum; effect.

A. If a referendum is called for under § 36-4, either by resolution of the governing body or upon the petition of at least two percent of the qualified voters as therein provided, the referendum shall be held at the next regularly scheduled election in the locality. The question on the ballot in such referendum shall be:

Is there a need for the redevelopment and housing authority to be activated in the county (or city or town) of.......… ?

The ballots shall be printed, the returns canvassed, and the results certified as provided in § 24.2-684.

B. If a majority of the qualified voters in such referendum shall indicate that there is a need for such authority, then the same shall be empowered to transact business and exercise the powers conferred by this chapter.

C. Once a referendum has been held, no other referendum on the same question shall be held in the county, city, or town within five years of the date of the prior referendum.

1952, c. 427; 1958, c. 171; 1982, c. 395; 2006, c. 784; 2009, c. 78.

§ 36-5. Reports.

At least once a year, an authority shall file with the clerk a report of its activities for the preceding year, including a financial statement and a statement of the maximum income limits for tenants in its projects and shall make recommendations with reference to such additional legislation or other action as it deems necessary in order to carry out the purposes of this chapter. All records of an authority shall be public records, and shall be open to inspection by the public during all business hours under such reasonable regulations as the authority may prescribe; provided that the term "records" shall include only completed contracts and transactions of the authority.

1938, p. 457; Michie Code 1942, § 3145(20); 1956, c. 643; 1958, c. 116.

§ 36-6. Cooperation in undertaking housing projects.

Any county, city or town, for the purpose of aiding and cooperating in the planning, undertaking, construction or operation of housing projects located within such county, city or town, may:

(a) Dedicate, sell, convey or lease any of its interest in any property, or grant easements, licenses or any other rights or privileges therein to any such housing authority;

(b) Cause parks, playgrounds, recreational, community, educational, water, sewer or drainage facilities, or any other works which it is otherwise empowered to undertake, to be furnished adjacent to or in connection with housing projects;

(c) Furnish, dedicate, close, pave, install, grade, regrade, plan or replan streets, roads, roadways, alleys, sidewalks or other places which it is otherwise empowered to undertake;

(d) Plan or replan, zone or rezone any part of such county, city or town; make exceptions from building regulations and ordinances; any city or town also may change its map;

(e) Cause services to be furnished to the housing authority of the character which such county, city or town is otherwise empowered to furnish;

(f) Enter into agreements with respect to the exercise by such county, city or town of its powers relating to the repair, elimination or closing of unsafe, insanitary or unfit dwellings;

(g) Purchase any of the bonds of a housing authority or legally invest in such bonds any funds belonging to or within the control of such county, city or town, and exercise all of the rights of any holder of such bonds;

(h) Do any and all things, necessary or convenient to aid and cooperate in the planning, undertaking, construction or operation of such housing projects;

(i) Enter into agreements with a housing authority respecting action to be taken by such county, city or town pursuant to any of the powers granted by this chapter.

1938, p. 457; Michie Code 1942, § 3145(21).

§ 36-7. Loans and donations to housing authority.

Any city, town or county located in whole or in part within the area of operation of a housing authority shall have the power from time to time to lend or donate money to such authority to enable or assist such authority to carry out its purposes or to agree to take such action, and may issue bonds to provide funds therefor.

1938, p. 458; Michie Code 1942, § 3145(22); 1983, c. 68.

§ 36-7.1. Liquidation of housing project.

If the governing body of any county or city determines after a public hearing that the need for a housing project has ceased to exist and that such project should be liquidated it shall so notify the housing authority which shall proceed to liquidate the project following public advertisement of the sale thereof. Provided that no bid on such project shall be accepted which would result in a sum insufficient to meet the outstanding obligations of the authority with respect to such project and provided further that if the authority finds that the highest offered price is not as much as what it considers a fair value for the property, the authority shall notify the governing body of this fact. After such notification no further proceedings shall be had in the liquidation of the property except at the specific direction of the governing body.

1958, c. 83.

§ 36-7.2. Notice of intent to demolish, liquidate, or otherwise dispose of housing projects.

A. Any housing authority required to submit an application to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to demolish, liquidate, or otherwise dispose of a housing project shall serve a notice of intent to demolish, liquidate, or otherwise dispose of such housing project containing the requirements listed in subsection C at least six months prior to any application submission date to (i) the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development and (ii) each tenant residing in the housing project.

B. The authority shall also provide notice containing the requirements listed in subsection C to any prospective tenant who is offered a rental agreement at the covered housing project subsequent to the initial notice sent pursuant to subsection A prior to the prospective tenant signing the rental agreement or paying any deposit.

C. Notice of intent to demolish, liquidate, or otherwise dispose of a housing project shall include:

1. The anticipated date upon which an application to demolish, liquidate, or otherwise dispose of the housing project will be submitted to HUD;

2. The name, address, and phone number of the local legal aid society;

3. Instructions for requesting more information pertaining to the application process, timeline, and implications for the tenant; and

4. Instructions for submitting written comment to the housing authority regarding the demolition, liquidation, or disposal of the housing project.

D. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the housing authority shall not require any tenant currently residing in such housing project to surrender possession of his unit until at least 12 months after serving the notice required by subsection A except as otherwise provided by law.

E. During the 12-month period subsequent to the provision of the notice required by subsection A, the housing authority shall not (i) increase rent for any tenant above the amount authorized by any federal assistance program applicable to the housing project; (ii) change the terms of the rental agreement for any tenant, except as permitted under the existing rental agreement; (iii) evict a tenant or demand possession of any dwelling unit in the housing project, except for a lease violation, including the tenant's failure to pay rent or other charges required by the lease, or violation of law that threatens the health and safety of the building residents; or (iv) take any action to demolish, liquidate, or otherwise dispose of the public housing project or a portion of the public housing project.

F. Any party that is entitled to receive notice under this section may bring a civil action to enjoin action by the housing authority or recover actual damages for any violation of this section, including any court costs and reasonable attorney fees.

2020, cc. 187, 397; 2022, c. 601.

§ 36-8. Supplemental nature of chapter.

The powers conferred by this chapter shall be in addition and supplemental to the powers conferred by any other law; except as may be expressly provided in the charter of a city or town specifically pertaining to such authority.

1938, p. 458; Michie Code 1942, § 3145(23); 1956, c. 615.

§ 36-9. Chapter controlling.

Insofar as the provisions of this chapter are inconsistent with the provisions of any other law, general, special or local, except as may be otherwise expressly provided in the charter of a city or town, specifically pertaining to such authority, the provisions of this chapter shall be controlling.

1938, p. 458; Michie Code 1942, § 3145(24); 1956, c. 615.

§ 36-9.1. Exemptions from applicability of this chapter; conflicts in provisions of law.

This chapter shall not be applicable to farm structures as defined in § 36-3 unless they are within the purview of the Uniform Statewide Building Code, as provided in § 36-99. Further, the creation of a redevelopment or conservation area, or designation of an individual structure as blighted pursuant to § 36-49.1:1, under the process for determination of spot blight, shall not abrogate the right to farm as protected in Chapter 3 (§ 3.2-300 et seq.) of Title 3.2. If there is a conflict between the provisions of this chapter and § 3.2-302, the provisions of § 3.2-302 shall control. If there is a conflict between the provisions of this chapter and § 25.1-106, the provisions of § 25.1-106 shall control. However, nothing herein shall be construed to preclude enforcement of local, state or federal criminal laws with respect to criminal activities occurring on a property where one or more farm structures are located.

2006, c. 784.

§ 36-10. Validation of establishment and organization of housing authorities and their contracts, undertakings, etc.

(1) Organization and establishment. -- The establishment and organization of housing authorities in the Commonwealth of Virginia under the provisions of the housing authorities law together with all proceedings, acts and things heretofore undertaken, performed or done with reference thereto prior to June 27, 1942, are hereby validated, ratified, confirmed, approved and declared legal in all respects, notwithstanding any defect or irregularity therein or any want of statutory authority.

(2) Contracts and undertakings. -- All contracts, agreements, obligations, and undertakings of such housing authorities entered into before such date relating to financing or aiding in the development, construction, maintenance or operation of any housing project or projects or to obtaining aid therefor from the United States Housing Authority, including (without limiting the generality of the foregoing) loan and annual contributions contract and leases with the United States Housing Authority, agreements with municipalities or other public bodies (including those which are pledged or authorized to be pledged for the protection of the holders of any notes or bonds issued by such housing authorities or which are otherwise made a part of the contract with such holders of notes or bonds) relating to cooperation and contributions in aid of housing projects, payments (if any) in lieu of taxes, furnishing of municipal services and facilities, and the elimination of unsafe and insanitary dwellings, and contracts for the construction of housing projects, together with all proceedings, acts and things undertaken, performed or done with reference thereto before such date, are hereby validated, ratified, confirmed, approved and declared legal in all respects, notwithstanding any defect or irregularity therein or any want of statutory authority.

(3) Notes and bonds. -- All proceedings, acts and things before such date undertaken, performed or done in or for the authorization, issuance, execution and delivery of notes and bonds by housing authorities for the purpose of financing or aiding in the development or construction of a housing project or projects, and all notes and bonds issued by housing authorities before such date, are hereby validated, ratified, confirmed, approved and declared legal in all respects, notwithstanding any defect or irregularity therein or any want of statutory authority.

1942, p. 381; Michie Code 1942, § 3145(26).