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Northern Virginia Housing Expo Returns This Month

THE NORTHERN VIRGINIA HOUSING EXPO, now it its seventh year, returns March 18. (Photo: Cameron Carey, Communi-k, Inc.)
THE NORTHERN VIRGINIA HOUSING EXPO, now it its seventh year, returns March 18. (Photo: Cameron Carey, Communi-k, Inc.)

This year marks the seventh annual Northern Virginia Housing Expo designed to educate and inform home buyers and apartment seekers.
Set for Saturday, March 18 at Sterling’s Dominion High School in Loudoun County, the free expo will run from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. and offer free financial counseling, exhibits, workshops and the chance to talk with professionals in the housing and lending industries.

The City of Falls Church is teaming up with non-profit organizations and other Northern Virginia municipalities to put on the expo. There will be roughly 75 bankers, lenders, real estate companies, lawyers and government agencies with staff members available to talk with attendees.
According to expo manager, Laura Nickle, the expo has grown a lot, with attendance expected to reach 1,000 this year.

Falls Church exhibitors include the City’s housing and human services division and Rebuilding Together, which works to improve the lives and dwellings of low-income homeowners.

Britepaths, a non-profit group that helps families and individuals strengthen their financial footing, will offer free 30-minute individual counseling sessions. Attendees can also bring credit reports to speed up assistance advice.

For those who may be crowded out of individual sessions, meetings after the expo can be arranged, Nickle said.

The workshops will include sessions on readiness to buy or rent, credit scores, personal finances, market overviews, and financial assistance. There will be a heavy focus on helping first-time home buyers and renters.

Brian Matt, the public relations manager for the Virginia Housing Development Agency, a platinum sponsor for the expo, said the “expo provides the attendees with an excellent forum to learn about the array of programs and services from the private, non-profit and public sectors promoting housing opportunities in Northern Virginia.”

VHDA Associates will staff a display booth with information about homeownership programs, Matt said. The Virginia Housing Search initiative will also be there to provide information about available rental housing opportunities.

“Our support and participation in the NOVA Expo represents an important part of our outreach efforts in the region to promote homeownership and rental housing opportunities,” Matt said.

While Falls Church has no public housing units, several apartment complexes offer “affordable” accommodations to those with incomes generally ranging between 50 and 80 percent of the area’s median incomes, said Dana Lewis, housing program analyst for the City’s division of housing and human services.

“Moderate” incomes that satisfy requirements to apply for the City’s lower cost housing generally fall between $38,010 – $60,816 for single individuals and $43,440 – $69,504 for a two-person family, Lewis said.

Priority in the city’s program is given to senior citizens, those who live or work in Falls Church, and those with disabilities. Applicants must be U.S. citizens and meet other requirements.

Only two applicants qualified for a lottery held yesterday in Falls Church for a one-bedroom, one-bath 839 square foot affordable apartment at Pearson Square on South Maple. The apartment is $1,140 per month with an additional $75 for parking and does not including utilities.

Two one bedroom/one bath “luxury apartments” at the West Broad Residences above the new Harris Teeter Supermarket are listed as “affordable dwelling rental units” on Falls Church’s website and go for $1,520 per month plus utilities and other costs.

Every year, Falls Church usually has about 25 condos and townhomes for sale which meet program requirements to qualify for first time buyers but none are available now, Lewis said.

Local government agencies “really, truly care about people having the information they need [to buy or rent a home],” Nickle said. “The biggest complaint we get is, ‘why don’t we have [the expo] more than once a year?’”

Other expo co-hosts are Fairfax-based nonprofit AHOME Foundation, and the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors. More information is available at www.NoVaHousingExpo.org, Northern Virginia Housing Expo on Facebook or at 571-294-8536.

Applications and more information about the Falls Church’s affordable housing program may be found at www.fallschurchva.gov/692/rental-assistance.

The expo will offer free shuttles to the event every 30 minutes from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. from the Spring Hill Metro station in Tysons.