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Code of Virginia
Title 36. Housing
Chapter 1. Housing Authorities Law
12/5/2022

Article 3. General Powers of Authority.

§ 36-19. Enumeration of powers.

An authority shall constitute a political subdivision of the Commonwealth with public and corporate powers, and having all the powers necessary or convenient to carry out and effectuate the purposes and provisions of this chapter, including the following powers in addition to others herein granted:

1. To sue and to be sued; to have a seal and to alter the same at pleasure; to have perpetual succession; to make and execute contracts and other instruments necessary or convenient to the exercise of the powers of the authority; and to make, amend and repeal bylaws, rules and regulations, not inconsistent with law, to carry into effect the powers and purposes of the authority.

2. Within its area of operation, to prepare, carry out, acquire, lease and operate housing projects and residential buildings, and to provide for the construction, reconstruction, improvement, alteration or repair of any housing project, residential building, or any part thereof, and to construct, remodel or renovate any public building or other facility used for public purposes provided the authority is requested to do so by the governing body of the political subdivision wherein the public building or facility is located.

3. To arrange or contract for the furnishing by any person or agency, public or private, of services, privileges, works, or facilities for, or in connection with, a housing project or the occupants thereof; and (notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in this chapter or in any other provision of law) to include in any contract let in connection with a project, any provisions required to comply with any conditions which the federal government may have attached to its financial aid of the project.

4. In connection with any housing project: to lease or rent any dwelling, houses, accommodations, lands, buildings, structures or facilities embraced in any housing project and (subject to the limitations contained in this chapter) to establish and revise the rents or charges therefor; to own, hold, and improve real or personal property; to purchase, lease, obtain options upon, acquire by gift, grant, bequest, devise, or otherwise any real or personal property or any interest therein; to acquire by the exercise of the power of eminent domain any real property; to sell, lease, exchange, transfer, assign, pledge or dispose of any real or personal property or any interest therein; to insure or provide for the insurance of any real or personal property or operations of the authority against any risks or hazards, to procure or agree to the procurement of insurance or guarantees from the federal government of the payment of any bonds or parts thereof issued by an authority, including the power to pay premiums on any such insurance.

5. To invest any funds held in reserves or sinking funds, or any funds not required for immediate disbursement, in property or security in which savings banks may legally invest funds subject to their control; to purchase its bonds at a price not more than the principal amount thereof and accrued interest, all bonds so purchased to be cancelled.

6. Within its area of operation, to investigate into living, dwelling and housing conditions and into the means and methods of improving such conditions; to determine where blighted or slum areas exist or where there is a shortage of decent, safe and sanitary dwelling accommodations for persons of low income; to make studies and recommendations relating to the problem of clearing, replanning and reconstructing of blighted or slum areas, and the problem of providing dwelling accommodations for persons of low income, and to cooperate with the locality, the Commonwealth or any other political subdivision thereof in action taken in connection with such problems; and to engage in research, studies and experimentation on the subject of housing.

7. To make loans or grants for the prevention and elimination of blighted or slum areas and for assistance in housing construction or rehabilitation by private sponsors of any and all funds received through federal programs and any and all funds received from other sources, public or private including but not limited to, rehabilitation loans received pursuant to the provisions of § 312 of the Federal Housing Act of 1964, as amended and the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974.

8. Within its area of operation, to act as agent for a political subdivision or agency of the Commonwealth or for a federal agency in making construction or rehabilitation loans to persons of low or moderate income in accordance with the rules and regulations of the political subdivision or agency.

9. Within its area of operation to make grants, loans or refinance loans made by others for assistance in planning, development, acquisition, construction, repair, rehabilitation, equipping or maintenance of commercial, residential or other buildings; provided that prior approval of any such loan by the local governing body shall be required if the building is not located within a housing, redevelopment or conservation area, or rehabilitation area and provided further that any rehabilitation funded by any such grant or loan is in compliance with property maintenance standards contained in duly adopted redevelopment or conservation plans in effect in such area of operation.

10. To borrow money and issue evidence of indebtedness in the name of and for the use of the authority, to issue bonds and other obligations, and give security therefor, subject to such limitations as may be imposed by law.

11. To conduct examinations and investigations, and to make available to appropriate agencies (including those charged with the duty of abating or requiring the correction of nuisances or like conditions, or of demolishing unsafe or unsanitary structures within its area of operation) its findings and recommendations with regard to any building or property where conditions exist which are dangerous to the public health, morals, safety or welfare.

12. With the approval of the local governing body or its designee, to form corporations, partnerships, joint ventures, trusts, or any other legal entity or combination thereof, on its own behalf or with any person or public or private entity.

13. To exercise all or any part or combination of powers herein granted.

No provisions of law with respect to the acquisition, operation or disposition of property by other political subdivisions or public bodies shall be applicable to an authority unless the legislature shall specifically state.

1938, p. 450; Michie Code 1942, § 3145(8); 1971, Ex. Sess., c. 153; 1976, c. 510; 1977, c. 136; 1978, c. 679; 1982, c. 596; 1983, c. 27; 1984, cc. 350, 450; 1988, cc. 217, 416; 1995, c. 193; 2002, c. 548; 2006, c. 784.

§ 36-19.1. Special provisions; City of Roanoke.

Notwithstanding the provisions of § 36-19, an authority established in the City of Roanoke shall not contract for the construction of any housing unit that has not been contracted for on or before March 6, 1952, or acquire land for or purchase material for the construction or installation of any sewerage, streets, sidewalks, lights, power, water, or any other facilities for any housing units or projects on or before such date, unless a comprehensive plan for such unit or project has been approved by the governing body of the city.

1952, c. 200; 1975, c. 575.

§ 36-19.2. Powers limited by necessity for authority from or approval by governing body; public hearing on proposed budget.

A. Notwithstanding the provisions of § 36-19, no authority permitted to transact business and exercise powers as provided in § 36-4 shall make any contract for the construction of any additional housing not authorized or approved by the governing body on April 1, 1952, or acquire land for, or purchase material for the construction or installation of, any sewerage, streets, sidewalks, lights, power, water, or any other facilities for any additional housing not authorized or approved on such date, unless and until such additional housing has been authorized or approved by the governing body of the locality in which the authority is authorized to transact business and exercise powers, provided that this section shall not affect or impair the provisions of § 36-19.1.

B. Before any authority gives final approval to (i) its budget or (ii) any request for funding for submission to the governing body, the authority shall hold at least one public hearing to receive the views of citizens within the area of operation of the authority. The authority shall cause public notice to be given at least 10 days prior to any hearing by publication in a newspaper having a general circulation within the area of operation of the authority.

1952, c. 427; 2006, c. 784; 2007, c. 342; 2017, cc. 68, 561.

§ 36-19.3. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 1960, c. 230.

§ 36-19.4. Referendum prior to making cooperation agreements for public housing projects in the City of Portsmouth.

Notwithstanding the provisions of § 36-19, no authority established in the City of Portsmouth shall make any cooperation agreement with the governing body of the city for any public housing project that is not authorized or approved by the governing body of the city on or before July 1, 1960, unless a cooperation agreement for such public housing project has been approved by a majority of the qualified voters of the city voting in an election called by the governing body of the city for such purpose. The procedure for such election shall conform to general law. The provisions of this section shall not affect or impair the provisions of § 36-19.1, nor shall they apply to such low rent public housing units determined by the governing body of the city as necessary for the satisfactory relocation of families to be displaced by the city's urban renewal program.

1960, c. 490; 1975, c. 575.

§ 36-19.5. Additional powers.

A. In addition to the powers otherwise granted, an authority may acquire, subject to prior approval, after public hearing, of each such acquisition by the governing body of the county, city or town wherein the property to be acquired is located, any single-family or multi-family dwelling unit within the authority's area of operation by purchase, lease, or gift or through the exercise of the power of eminent domain as provided in subsection B of this section, for development and redevelopment including, but not limited to, the renovation, rehabilitation and disposition thereof, when such authority has determined: (i) that such dwelling unit or other structure has deteriorated to such extent as to constitute a serious and growing menace to the public health, safety and welfare; (ii) that such dwelling unit or other structure is likely to continue to deteriorate unless corrected; (iii) that the continued deterioration of such dwelling unit or other structure may contribute to the blighting or deterioration of the area immediately surrounding the said dwelling unit or other structure; and (iv) that the owner of such dwelling unit or other structure, after sixty days' notice to the landowner by certified mail, citing § 36-19.5, has failed to correct the deterioration thereof.

B. A local governing body may, on behalf of an authority, acquire through the exercise of the power of eminent domain any single-family or multi-family dwelling unit within the authority's area of operation, but only for those purposes set forth in subsection A of this section.

1979, c. 424.

§ 36-20. Housing research and studies.

In addition to all its other powers, an authority may, within its area of operation, undertake and carry out studies and analyses of the housing needs, and of the meeting of such needs (including data with respect to population and family groups and the distribution thereof according to income groups, the amount and quality of available housing and its distribution according to rentals and sales prices, employment, wages and other factors affecting the local housing needs and the meeting thereof) and make the results of such studies and analyses available to the public and the building, housing and supply industries; and may also engage in research and disseminate information on the subject of housing.

1946, p. 278; Michie Suppl. 1946, § 3145(4r).

§ 36-21. Housing projects not to be operated for profit.

It is hereby declared to be the policy of this Commonwealth that each housing authority shall manage and operate its housing projects in an efficient manner so as to enable it to fix the rentals for dwelling accommodations at the lowest possible rates consistent with such authority providing decent, safe and sanitary dwelling accommodations, and that no housing authority shall construct or operate any such project for profit, or as a source of revenue to the city or the county. To this end an authority shall fix the rentals for dwellings in its projects at no higher rates than it shall find to be necessary in order to produce revenues which (together with all other available moneys, revenues, income and receipts of the authority from whatever sources derived) will be sufficient (a) to meet the cost of, and to provide for, maintaining and operating the projects (including the cost of any insurance) and the administrative expenses of the authority; (b) to pay, as the same become due, the principal and interest on the bonds of the authority; (c) to provide a margin of safety for making such payments of principal and interest; and (d) to create and maintain a reserve sufficient to ensure the authority can pay the principal of and the interest on the bonds of the authority as the same shall come due.

1938, p. 452; Michie Code 1942, § 3145(9); 1975, c. 78.

§ 36-22. Rentals and tenant selection.

In the operation or management of housing projects an authority shall at all times observe the following duties with respect to rentals and tenant selection: (a) it may rent or lease the dwelling accommodations therein only to persons of low income and at rentals within the financial reach of such persons of low income; (b) it may rent or lease to a tenant dwelling accommodations consisting of the number of rooms (but no greater number) which it deems necessary to provide safe and sanitary accommodations to the proposed occupants thereof, without overcrowding; (c) it shall not accept any person as a tenant in any housing project if the person or persons who would occupy the dwelling accommodations have an aggregate annual income in excess of the maximum income limits established by the authority for the purpose of determining what persons or families are of low income; and (d) at least thirty days before establishing or changing the aggregate annual maximum income limits for the purpose of determining what persons or families are persons of low income, an authority shall notify the governing body of the city or county thereof.

Nothing contained in this section or § 36-21 shall be construed as limiting the power of an authority to vest in an obligee the right, in the event of a default by the authority, to take possession of a housing project or cause the appointment of a receiver thereof, free from all the restrictions imposed by this section or § 36-21.

1938, p. 452; Michie Code 1942, § 3145(10); 1958, c. 116; 1972, cc. 466, 782.

§ 36-22.1. Conveyance of streets; no trespass policy.

Each housing authority shall adopt a "no trespass" policy designed to protect the premises controlled by such authority and residents from nonresidents who enter the premises for unlawful purposes or without any lawful purpose. In adopting such policies, the authority shall determine whether to petition a locality or the Commonwealth to close to the public and convey to the authority any streets serving authority property. Neither a locality nor the Commonwealth shall be required to grant the conveyance.

2004, c. 585.

§ 36-23. Housing authority operations in other municipalities.

In addition to its other powers, any housing authority may exercise any or all of its powers within the territorial boundaries of any municipality not included in the area of operation of such housing authority, for the purpose of planning, undertaking, financing, rehabilitating, constructing and operating a housing project or projects or a multi-family residential building or buildings within such municipality; provided that a resolution shall have been adopted (a) by the governing body of such municipality in which the housing authority is to exercise its powers and (b) by the authority of such municipality (if one has been theretofore established by such municipality and authorized to exercise its powers therein) declaring that there is a need for the aforesaid housing authority to exercise its powers within such municipality. A municipality shall have the same powers to furnish financial and other assistance to such housing authority exercising its powers within such municipality under this section as though the municipality were within the area of operation of such authority.

No governing body of a municipality shall adopt a resolution as provided in this section declaring that there is a need for the housing authority (other than a housing authority established by such municipality) to exercise its powers within such municipality, unless a public hearing has first been held by such governing body and unless such governing body shall have found in substantially the following terms: (a) that insanitary or unsafe inhabited dwelling accommodations exist in such municipality or that there is a shortage of safe or sanitary dwelling accommodations in such municipality available to persons of low income at rentals they can afford; and (b) that these conditions can be best remedied through the exercise of the aforesaid housing authority's powers within the territorial boundaries of such municipality; provided that such findings shall not have the effect of establishing an authority for any such municipality under § 36-4 nor of thereafter preventing such municipality from establishing an authority or joining in the creation of a consolidated housing authority or the increase of the area of operation of a consolidated housing authority. The clerk of the city or other municipality shall give notice of the time, place and purpose of the public hearing at least ten days prior to the date on which the hearing is to be held, in a newspaper published in such municipality, or if there is no newspaper published in such municipality, then in a newspaper published in the Commonwealth and having a general circulation in such municipality. Upon the date fixed for such public hearing an opportunity to be heard shall be granted to all residents of such municipality and to all other interested persons.

During the time that, pursuant to these findings, the aforesaid housing authority has outstanding (or is under contract to issue) any evidences of indebtedness for a project within the municipality, no other housing authority may undertake a project within such municipality without the consent of the housing authority which has such outstanding indebtedness or obligation.

1942, p. 324; Michie Code 1942, § 3145(41); 1984, c. 350.

§ 36-24. Cooperation of authorities.

Any two or more housing authorities may join or cooperate with one another in the exercise, either jointly or otherwise of any or all of their powers for the purpose of financing (including the issuance of bonds, notes or other obligations and giving security therefor), planning, undertaking, owning, constructing, operating or contracting with respect to a housing project or projects located within the area of operation of any one or more of such authorities. For such purpose any authority may by resolution prescribe and authorize any other housing authority or authorities, so joining or cooperating with it, to act on its behalf with respect to any or all of such powers. Any authorities joining or cooperating with one another may by resolutions appoint from among the commissioners of such authorities an executive committee with full power to act on behalf of such authorities with respect to any or all of their powers, as prescribed by resolutions of such authorities.

1938, p. 453; 1942, p. 325; Michie Code 1942, §§ 3145(4n), 3145(11).

§ 36-25. Payments by housing authorities to other bodies.

An authority may agree to make such payments to the city or county, the Commonwealth, or any political subdivision thereof, which payments such bodies are hereby authorized to accept, and to otherwise expend its funds in such manner as the authority finds consistent with the maintenance of the low-rent character of housing projects or the achievement of the purposes of this Housing Authorities Law.

1946, p. 278; Michie Suppl. 1946, § 3145(4q); 1970, c. 405.

§ 36-26. Aid from federal government.

In addition to the powers conferred upon an authority by other provisions of this chapter, an authority is empowered to borrow money or accept contributions, grants or other financial assistance from the federal government for or in aid of any housing project within its area of operation, to take over or lease or manage any housing projects or undertaking, within such area, constructed or owned by the federal government, and to these ends, to comply with such conditions and enter into such mortgages, trust indentures, leases or agreements as may be necessary, convenient or desirable.

1938, p. 457; Michie Code 1942, § 3145(19).

§ 36-27. Eminent domain.

A. An authority shall have the right to acquire by the exercise of the power of eminent domain any real property pursuant to a duly adopted redevelopment or conservation plan, or otherwise only in accordance with this chapter, after the adoption by it of a resolution declaring that the acquisition of the real property described therein is necessary for such public purposes. An authority may exercise the power of eminent domain in the manner provided in Chapter 2 (§ 25.1-200 et seq.) of Title 25.1. In condemnation proceedings evidence may be presented as to the value of the property including but not limited to the owner's appraisal and the effect that any pending application for a zoning change, special use permit application or variance application may have on the value of the property. The court may also determine whether there has been unreasonable delay in the institution of the proceedings after public announcement by the condemnor of a project that necessitates acquisition by the condemnor of a designated land area consisting of or including the land sought to be condemned. If the court determines that such unreasonable delay has occurred, it shall instruct the commissioners or jurors in such proceedings to allow any damages proved to their satisfaction by the landowner or landowners to have been sustained to his or their land during and because of such delay, in addition to and separately from the fair market value thereof, but such damages shall not exceed the actual diminution if any in fair market value of the land in substantially the same physical condition over the period of the delay.

B. Prior to the adoption of any redevelopment plan for a redevelopment area pursuant to § 36-49 or any conservation plan for a conservation area pursuant to § 36-49.1, an authority shall send by certified mail, postage prepaid, to the record owner or owners of every parcel of property to be acquired pursuant to such plan, at their last known address as contained in the records of the treasurer, the current real estate tax assessment records, or the records of such other officer responsible for collecting taxes in that locality, a notice advising such owner that (i) the property owned by such owner is proposed to be acquired, (ii) such owner will have the right to appear before the local governing body and present testimony with respect to the proposed redevelopment or conservation area, and (iii) such owner will have the right to appear in any condemnation proceeding instituted to acquire the property and present any defense which such owner may have to the taking. Such notice shall not be the basis for eligibility for relocation benefits. At the time it makes its price offer, the authority shall also provide to the property owner a copy of the appraisal of the fair market value of such property upon which the authority has based the amount offered for the property, which appraisal shall be prepared by a real estate appraiser licensed in accordance with Chapter 20.1 (§ 54.1-2009 et seq.) of Title 54.1.

C. In all such cases the proceedings shall be according to the provisions of Chapter 2 (§ 25.1-200 et seq.) of Title 25.1, so far as they can be applied to the same. No real property belonging to the city, the county, the Commonwealth or any other political subdivision thereof may be acquired without its consent.

1938, p. 453; Michie Code 1942, § 3145(12); 1958, c. 518; 1972, cc. 466, 782; 1989, c. 593; 1998, c. 880; 2000, c. 1029; 2001, c. 729; 2002, c. 272; 2003, c. 940; 2006, cc. 586, 784.

§ 36-27.01. Plan for alternative housing of persons displaced by condemnation, conversion, etc.

In any condemnation proceeding which involves the taking or conversion of properties populated by low and moderate income families in multi-family housing projects owned or controlled by the redevelopment and housing authority, or with respect to the development or redevelopment of any property owned or controlled by it, the authority shall adopt a plan of relocation identifying alternative housing for the persons who will be displaced. No conversion of multi-family housing complexes to industrial use shall be authorized prior to the identification of alternative housing required herein.

1983, c. 518.

§ 36-27.1. Damages to leasehold interests in the City of Waynesboro.

In considering the damages to be allowed under § 36-27 for property located in the City of Waynesboro, the court shall instruct the commissioners that damages shall be allowable for injury to leasehold interests in property adjoining, and operated jointly with, the land being condemned.

1966, c. 383; 1975, c. 575.

§ 36-27.2. Limitations on certain housing authorities; exception.

A. Notwithstanding the provisions of § 36-27 and except as provided in subsection B, no housing authority transacting business and exercising powers as provided in § 36-4 in the City of Norfolk shall be authorized after July 1, 2007, to acquire by the exercise of the power of eminent domain, any real property located within the boundaries set forth in the Conservation and Redevelopment Plan (the Plan) for the East Ocean View Conservation and Redevelopment Project adopted July 1989, as amended by Amendment No. 1 to such plan adopted September 1992.

The provisions of this subsection shall not apply to any such real property for which an offer has been made by such housing authority or for which such authority has initiated condemnation proceedings prior to July 1, 2007.

B. The City of Norfolk and the housing authority shall not be precluded from adopting (i) a new redevelopment plan, in accordance with the provisions of §§ 36-27, 36-49, and 36-51, which designates a redevelopment area that includes real property for acquisition that was previously included within the Plan, or (ii) a new conservation plan, in accordance with the provisions of §§ 36-27, 36-50.1, and 36-51.1, which designates a conservation area that includes real property for acquisition that was previously included within the Plan.

2002, c. 540; 2007, c. 786.

§ 36-28. Planning, zoning and building laws.

All housing projects of an authority shall be subject to the planning, zoning, sanitary and building laws, ordinances and regulations applicable to the locality in which the housing project is situated. In the planning and location of any housing project, an authority shall take into consideration the relationship of the project to any larger plan or long-range program for the development of the area in which the housing authority functions.

1938, p. 453; Michie Code 1942, § 3145(13).