RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Virginia House of Delegates has set aside legislation that would expand a program that encourages construction of affordable housing, potentially delaying the proposal indefinitely.

HB 2047, patroned by Delegate Betsy Carr (D – Richmond), would expand the law around Affordable Dwelling Unit (ADU) policies to allow more local governments to enact them.

“[Affordable Dwelling Unit] policies allow localities to require or encourage market-rate developers to include housing affordable to low- or middle-income households,” she said. “In exchange, the developer receives an incentive, typically a density bonus.”

Currently, most localities can only implement voluntary policies, which make the incentives available to developers who choose to build affordable housing, but can’t be made a requirement for approval of developments.

There are some area — such as Charlottesville and Fairfax counties among others — that have already been given an exception allowing them to make the affordability programs mandatory for some projects.

“In the past three years, statewide, only 3 projects have come out of these voluntary ADU policies,” Carr said. “In contrast, 20 projects have arisen from the ADU policies that have mandatory ordinances.”

The proposal wouldn’t mandate that cities and counties adopt the policies, but would make them an option for local governments across the commonwealth.

Still, despite support from the City of Richmond, affordable housing advocates and JLARC, the state research agency, the committee voted on party lines to lay the bill on the table — effectively killing it.

“We do have some other bills this morning that we’re going to recommend be referred to the Housing Commission to further study this issue, so I would recommend that JLARC work closely with the Housing Commission to further review that study,” said Delegate Will Morefield (R – Tazewell).

The bill was based on recommendations from an extensive study of housing in Virginia, conducted by JLARC in 2021. You can read the results of that study here.