February 3, 2014 Legislative Highlights

Many bills, but not all, that would have advanced fair housing rights or would have assisted with more accessible housing have been defeated.

On the positive side,  HB 527 has been approved by the full House and will be considered by the Senate after crossover.  Patroned by Delegate Pogge, the bill clarifies that group homes for people with disabilities must be treated as single family residences, regardless of whether the home has “resident” staff living there.  The change brings Virginia law closer to compliance with federal fair housing laws.

Bills that would have expanded the amount of money available in the budget to fund the Livable Home Tax Credit were tabled on the House side.  (HB 295, Villanueva.)  SB 62 (Puller) is on the agenda for Senate Finance at 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday, February 4.  SB 57 (Marsden) is before Senate Finance but is not on any agenda yet.  The Livable Home Tax credit provides a tax incentive to retrofit homes to become accessible or visitable for people who use mobility devices.

HB 816 (Lopez) was stricken by Committee.  That would have prohibited landlords from considering source of income in making housing decisions.  It is currently a possible violation of federal law if a landlord considers a source of income that would indicate the presence of a disability.

HB 1132 (Lopez) would have placed a percentage of the state surplus funds into the Housing Trust Fund.  The bill was tabled in subcommittee.

SB 340 (Puller) as originally written would have required group homes for people with disabilities to provide prior notice to local jurisdictions and would have required such homes to have sprinklers and other fire suppression systems.  It appears that the bill is being substantially rewritten to eliminate the fire suppression requirements and to modify the notice requirements.  A similar notice bill, HB 222 (Dance), was tabled by subcommittee in the House.

The legislature killed two bills that would modify the state building code to require that 10% of newly constructed multi-family dwellings be affordable and accessible.  Current law requires only 2%.  HB 524 (Pogge) was stricken by Committee.  SB 63 (Puller) was passed by indefinitely.

The disAbility Law Center of Virginia promotes and protects the rights of all Virginians with disabilities.  The dLCV is a private nonprofit organization. We may educate policymakers about the impact of proposed legislation.  Contact us at info@dLCV.org or at 1-800-552-3962 if there is a policy matter of concern to you that you feel we should be addressing.