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FIVE FOR FRIDAY: A weekly roundup of Public Policy News

FIVE FOR FRIDAYWelcome to FIVE FOR FRIDAY: A weekly roundup of Public Policy Issues and Headlines from around the Northern Virginia Region, the Commonwealth and on Capitol Hill.

1. Virginia offers mortgage help to those impacted by pandemic

Virginia has launched a statewide Mortgage Relief Program to help homeowners who’ve been financially impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Gov. Ralph Northam announced the new program on Thursday. He said the state has received more than $250 million through the U.S. Department of the Treasury to provide relief. Applications for the assistance will open up on Monday.


2. FHFA Raises Fees on High-Balance Second-Home Loans

The Federal Housing Finance Agency announced it would be increasing upfront fees on second-home mortgages and on mortgages that finance homes with balances that exceed standard conforming loan limits. The fees are expected to increase the purchase cost of second homes and homes in high-cost areas. The new fees from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will take effect on April 1.


3. Loudoun Board of Supervisors Increases Financial Incentives for Conservation Easement Assistance Program

The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors has approved changes to the county’s Conservation Easement Assistance Program (CEAP) aimed at increasing the number of landowners who qualify for financial assistance under this grant program. The changes have been implemented and the CEAP is ready to accept new applications. 

The Conservation Easement Assistance Program helps offset the costs of placing land under conservation easement by providing funds to land trusts representing income-qualifying landowners (or trusts and LLCs) in Loudoun County. The funds will be applied to the landowner’s conservation easement process.


4. Community Input Sought on Fairfax Sign Regulations at Virtual Meetings in January

Fairfax Department of Planning and Development is reviewing sign policies to better serve residents and business owners. The review is part of the 2022/2023 Zoning Ordinance Work Program as a follow up to sign regulation changes that were adopted in March 2019.

Sign regulations under review include signage related to properties for sale or undergoing construction, signage calculations for mixed-use and multifamily buildings, subdivision signs, and the comprehensive sign plan process. Staff is holding two community information sessions this month for the public to learn more about sign regulations and offer their feedback on how they may be improved.


5. Virginia commission urges policy changes to address inequity in the state’s economy, rural life, environment

A Virginia commission formed to identify root causes of inequality in state law has recommended a number of policy changes aimed at addressing racial disparities in economic opportunity, rural life and environmental conservation. From paid family and medical leave to tax relief, foreclosure protection and access to legal and health services, the 45 policy prescriptions are contained in a 65-page report issued Thursday by the Commission to Examine Racial and Economic Inequity in Virginia Law. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) created the commission last year.

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