NEWS

The Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission (MPPDC), as part of its efforts to address the prevalence of vacant structures in the region, is seeking the public’s input through an online survey, MPPDC Director Lewie Lawrence announced this month.

The survey is available HERE.

The survey is a part of a study being conducted by the MPPDC that focuses on locating vacant residential structures on the Middle Peninsula, analyzing the effects those structures are having on the communities they are located within, and developing potential policy solutions that would assist in repurposing such structures into productive uses.

“Part of what the Planning Commission is charged to do is see region-wide problems, shine a light on them early and bring solutions that benefit the entire community,” Lawrence said. “That is exactly what we are doing here.”

This study underscores MPPDC’s commitment to creating solutions through collaboration. Funding for the study was provided by the Virginia Housing Development Authority through their Community Impact Grant program.

Intended for information collection purposes only, the results of this survey will not be used to enforce building code violations, property maintenance violations or for the pursuit of delinquent taxes.

The survey itself is set up in two parts.

The first part of the survey is open to the public and includes a brief, six question survey that seeks to analyze the impact that vacant structures are perceived to have on surrounding communities.

The second part of the survey is intended for owners of vacant residential structures and aims to identify issues such owners face, as well as the resources that they would require in order to repurpose their structures into productive uses. Results from this section of the survey will ideally inform the development of strategies and policies to address vacant residential structures across the region.

“Vacant housing can be an indicator that all is not well within your socio-economic fabric,” Lawrence said.

From a regional planning perspective, Lawrence said, officials can look to see what programs may be needed to help bring those properties back into full use through new market rental programs, loans and grant programs.

Some programs that have been implemented in other regions have included taking vacant housing and helping property owners rehabilitate structures in exchange for offering low-rent housing options to public service workers like firemen and teachers.

“Housing is like stair steps,” Lawrence said. “Everybody moves into entry-level housing. Then they step up to the next house. But if a region’s entry-level housing is broken, and the rental market is broken, then that lower rung has nowhere to go, and the baseline employment sector can’t find adequate housing, making it harder for a blue-collar workforce to live in the region, and they are the engine of our economy.”

ABOUT THE MIDDLE PENINSULA PLANNING DISTRICT COMMISSION

The Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission (MPPDC) is one of 21 planning commissions in Virginia charged with promoting the orderly and efficient development of the physical, social and economic elements of the district by planning, and encouraging and assisting localities to plan, for the future.

The MPPDC is comprised of the six counties (Essex, Gloucester, King and Queen, King William, Mathews, and Middlesex) and three towns (Tappahannock, Urbanna, and West Point) on the Middle Peninsula.

Commissioners are appointed by each locality and consist of two elected and one citizen member for each county and one elected member for each town. Three county administrators and one town manager serve on the Commission on a rotating basis. The Executive Director/Secretary, selected by the Commission, manages the daily operations of the planning district’s professional staff.

MPPDC is funded by annual contributions from its member local governments, by appropriations from the Virginia General Assembly, and by grants from state and federal governments and other entities.

MPPDC prepares an annual work program and budget each year determined by the needs and priorities of the region and available funding opportunities.

For more information about the Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission, contact Lewie Lawrence at llawrence@mppdc.com or (804) 758-2311.


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