Increasing Housing Affordability in Blacksburg

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In August 2021, The Town of Blacksburg completed a 3 part online public engagement process regarding housing affordability to better understand 1) citizen priorities and concerns, 2) which housing types and densities are acceptable to the community, and 3) what strategies the community would like the Town to pursue, and 4) what specific concerns exist about the strategies proposed.

The State of Housing in Blacksburg:

Housing prices and availability have become hot topics in Blacksburg. The Town of Blacksburg has a housing shortage, particularly housing that is affordable to households earning less than the Town's median family income of $89,000.

  • Please check out this video to learn more about Blacksburg's housing affordability challenges (10 minutes).
  • The NRV Regional Commission presents the data from NRV Regional Housing to the Town Council on March 2nd, 2021 in this video(45 minutes). You can also access the link to the full report on the right-hand side of this project page.

Housing Strategies:

The Town is taking a close look at a variety of strategies to help address this important community issue. These strategies include:

  • Development incentives to encourage the production of more affordable housing,
  • Mechanisms to limit student encroachment into single-family neighborhoods,
  • Strategies to provide more homes affordable to first-time homebuyers and non-student renters, and
  • Mechanisms to fund the community's preferred strategies.

To see the results from the most recent survey on preferred housing strategies, click here or on the right side of this page under documents. If you are interested in learning more about the potential housing strategies explored in the survey, please click on the video at the top of this page. You can use the timeline feature in the video to explore the sections that are of greatest interest to you.

Community Input:

  • Reports with results from our first, second, and third phases of public engagement are provided in the documents section on the right-hand side of this page.

Next Steps:

Here are a few overarching takeaways and next steps.

01 — Build Trust and Transparency.

The recent survey revealed a lack of trust. This was expressed in the many comments and the prioritization of strategies. Knowing that transparency is a community priority, the Town will continue to strengthen our engagement as we work to implement internal reforms and strengthen our partnerships to improve housing affordability in Blacksburg. We will continue to reach out with information to help expand community understanding of and create opportunities for engagement on each housing strategy.

02 — Revise Zoning and Development Review Process to Incentivize the Development of Missing Middle Housing Types.

Using the priorities and concerns expressed through both surveys, staff will determine how the Town can improve the development review process, most effectively approach revisions to the zoning ordinance to better allow for the development of missing middle housing types, and align development incentives accordingly.

03 — Implement the Strongly Preferred Housing Strategies

The recent survey revealed stronger support for allowing detached accessory apartments, establishing a Community Land Trust, using rental restrictions as part of new developments, and improving partnerships with Virginia Tech, Montgomery County, and the development community. The Town will prioritize staff time towards the implementation of these strategies.

We will continue to update this page as we move forward with the implementation of preferred strategies.

If you are interested in staying engaged on this topic please make sure you provide your email in the "Stay Informed" box and consider subscribing to Citizens Alerts on the Town's website. This is just the beginning! Thanks for your interest and for sharing your thoughts.

In August 2021, The Town of Blacksburg completed a 3 part online public engagement process regarding housing affordability to better understand 1) citizen priorities and concerns, 2) which housing types and densities are acceptable to the community, and 3) what strategies the community would like the Town to pursue, and 4) what specific concerns exist about the strategies proposed.

The State of Housing in Blacksburg:

Housing prices and availability have become hot topics in Blacksburg. The Town of Blacksburg has a housing shortage, particularly housing that is affordable to households earning less than the Town's median family income of $89,000.

  • Please check out this video to learn more about Blacksburg's housing affordability challenges (10 minutes).
  • The NRV Regional Commission presents the data from NRV Regional Housing to the Town Council on March 2nd, 2021 in this video(45 minutes). You can also access the link to the full report on the right-hand side of this project page.

Housing Strategies:

The Town is taking a close look at a variety of strategies to help address this important community issue. These strategies include:

  • Development incentives to encourage the production of more affordable housing,
  • Mechanisms to limit student encroachment into single-family neighborhoods,
  • Strategies to provide more homes affordable to first-time homebuyers and non-student renters, and
  • Mechanisms to fund the community's preferred strategies.

To see the results from the most recent survey on preferred housing strategies, click here or on the right side of this page under documents. If you are interested in learning more about the potential housing strategies explored in the survey, please click on the video at the top of this page. You can use the timeline feature in the video to explore the sections that are of greatest interest to you.

Community Input:

  • Reports with results from our first, second, and third phases of public engagement are provided in the documents section on the right-hand side of this page.

Next Steps:

Here are a few overarching takeaways and next steps.

01 — Build Trust and Transparency.

The recent survey revealed a lack of trust. This was expressed in the many comments and the prioritization of strategies. Knowing that transparency is a community priority, the Town will continue to strengthen our engagement as we work to implement internal reforms and strengthen our partnerships to improve housing affordability in Blacksburg. We will continue to reach out with information to help expand community understanding of and create opportunities for engagement on each housing strategy.

02 — Revise Zoning and Development Review Process to Incentivize the Development of Missing Middle Housing Types.

Using the priorities and concerns expressed through both surveys, staff will determine how the Town can improve the development review process, most effectively approach revisions to the zoning ordinance to better allow for the development of missing middle housing types, and align development incentives accordingly.

03 — Implement the Strongly Preferred Housing Strategies

The recent survey revealed stronger support for allowing detached accessory apartments, establishing a Community Land Trust, using rental restrictions as part of new developments, and improving partnerships with Virginia Tech, Montgomery County, and the development community. The Town will prioritize staff time towards the implementation of these strategies.

We will continue to update this page as we move forward with the implementation of preferred strategies.

If you are interested in staying engaged on this topic please make sure you provide your email in the "Stay Informed" box and consider subscribing to Citizens Alerts on the Town's website. This is just the beginning! Thanks for your interest and for sharing your thoughts.

What is your housing story?

Please share your story about seeking housing or living in Blacksburg.

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    Owning a Home in an Older Section of Blacksburg

    by Long time resident, 6 months ago

    My wife and I purchased an older home in Blacksburg in 1977 on McDonald Street. The house was owned by an older gentleman who had rented it for years and it was in pretty rough shape. The majority of the houses on this street were primarily owned by the people who lived in them.

    Over the years as houses on this street were sold, land-lords purchased them and began renting them.

    We have watched as most of those homes have become "blighted".

    A land-lord does not maintain a house and associated land like a homeowner who lives in that house... Continue reading

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    Graduate Student Struggling to Find Suitable Place to Live

    by Angry and Upset Resident, 8 months ago
    My wife and I moved into an apartment when I began school 2 years ago, but we have been in Blacksburg for much longer. We found the cheapest apartment we could. Rent has increased by nearly 10% for the last two years. Graduate School salary does not increase to meet the rising housing costs, and our budget has become ever so much tighter. The building reeks of marijuana and cigarettes nearly every day, with several loud animals that bark and make noise nearly all hours of the day. We avoided some parts of town to try and get an apartment... Continue reading
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    Been looking desperately for over a year without success

    by Longtime Resident, 8 months ago
    I live in Town in a house I've been remodeling for ten years. Unfortunately due to neighbors who moved in about a 1.5 years ago with a very loud dog allowed to bark outside much of the day, I abandoned finishing the remodel, found someone who wanted to buy my house to finish it, and I began looking for a new house. Working with a realtor and checking listings multiple times every day, I haven't been able to find anything in Blacksburg or Christiansburg remotely reasonable.
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    Regulate rental companies

    by cc, 10 months ago
    I was a renter in Blacksburg for ~8 years and was lucky enough to find a home to purchase (note: sold by a parent who purchased it for their students while in school) ~2 years ago. The quality of rental properties and responsiveness to problems varies - I spent 3 years with a private landlord who was great; 2 years with a larger, more highly rated rental company which was a mostly positive experience - not perfect, but terrific compared to other rental companies in this area.


    By far, I've had my worst experiences renting in the more... Continue reading

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    Rent Outpacing Salary

    by Concerned Young Professional, 10 months ago
    When my husband and I moved to Blacksburg 4 years ago for him to start grad school, rent seemed reasonable in comparison to where we were moving from (Northern Virginia). We picked essentially the nicest "cheap" apartment we could afford knowing we would have to dip into our savings until I found a job.


    It's 4 years later, we're still in the same cheap apartment that has had zero improvements since we moved in. Last year our rent increased by $100 a month. Next year it will increase by $100 a month. Due to COVID, none of the employees where... Continue reading

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    Living in the Burg

    by Townie, 10 months ago
    I am lucky enough to live in a house in Blacksburg that is walking distance to town. I live on a street of single family homes. The last several homes sold on my street have been sold to investors who rent to students, while families who want to live in town can't find/afford a house in walking distance to town. It would be nice if there were a way to limit the number of single family homes that turn into student rentals or airBnB type rentals. People want to live here - but finding a house in town is very... Continue reading
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    Affordable Housing

    by InstructorVT, 10 months ago
    I work at the University. I was forced to move out of my one bedroom apartment in Blacksburg because rent + utilities was more than 30% of my regular salary.


    Many of us at Virginia Tech- staff, graduate students, and instructors in particular- can’t afford to rent an apartment in the town they work in (let alone ever buy a house here).


    Moreover, VT employees aren’t as impacted as others. My neighbor had to move his kids from the Blacksburg school system to the Christiansburg school system because he couldn’t afford housing in Blacksburg.

    Obviously, these stories are anecdotal, but... Continue reading

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    Require it. Allow it. Change is hard, but stasis is worse.

    by somnafolg, 11 months ago

    Until we require affordable housing provisions or contributions to a public AH fund for all new developments, very little affordable housing will exist. Currently minimum lot size, FAR, and setbacks do not allow, much less encourage even median range development. There are no more land opportunities for easy developments, and residents have no appetite for creative solutions. However, our town finds all kinds of excuses as to why these cannot be changed and appears to have little will to accept change. This problem didn't just suddenly arise from nowhere, and the current "engagement" is a year overdue even by the... Continue reading

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    11 years, 5 rentals

    by Lindsk9, 12 months ago
    I came to school here and went to work full-time after graduation. I love Virginia Tech, the Town of Blacksburg, and the surrounding outdoor recreation. I have always loved Blacksburg for how pedestrian and bicycling friendly it is for this part of Virginia. I love that I don't have to be dependent on a car to live here, and that we have access to lots of parks, grocery, and dining options. I also love the students for the energy, jobs, and economic stimulation they bring to this area. However the housing market makes the hope of ever owning a home... Continue reading
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    20 Year Worker and Resident

    by MrH, 12 months ago
    I have lived and worked in Blacksburg for 20 years. Currently, I am looking at moving out of this town so I can afford to buy a house. I love this town and community and it pains me to have to leave the place I've called home for so long.


    Even with two incomes, it is almost impossible to purchase anything in this area. In the few circumstances something affordable actually does go on market, it is snatched up the moment it is listed. Please add more housing or assistance for those with lower/middle incomes so the people that work... Continue reading
Page last updated: 17 August 2021, 14:17