Skip to main content
Partners for Better Communities (Virginia's DHCD Podcast)

Partners for Better Communities (Virginia's DHCD Podcast)

By Virginia DHCD
The podcast of the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (VADHCD). Each episode features the voices of leaders and change makers across the commonwealth. We'll look at the innovation and inspiration at play as local, regional, and state leaders work together to create safe, affordable, and prosperous communities.
Where to listen
Apple Podcasts Logo

Apple Podcasts

Google Podcasts Logo

Google Podcasts

Overcast Logo


Pocket Casts Logo

Pocket Casts

RadioPublic Logo


Spotify Logo


60. Public Service Profile ⇒ Scottsville Town Administrator Matt Lawless on organizing a community
This year we're profiling some of Virginia's local administrators, public servants who are often behind the scenes making things happen with creativity, passion, and care for the place and people surrounding them. "I like being able to do all kinds of things in one day," says Scottsville Town Administrator Matt Lawless who talked to us about the variety of challenges, joys, and rewards of serving a small town with a historic district, flood risks, a resilient community network, strong regional partnerships, and eyes on the future.  "I see my work as understanding what the community wants to see happen, identifying the parts of it that government is good at, and then find volunteers and get other people excited.  How can we do this together?  It works better that way, and it's more fun than just paying for things with taxes."  Hear more about the fun right here or wherever you stream your podcasts. Explore Scottsville online and then plan a visit. 
January 25, 2022
59. The Power of the Crowd ⇒ Community engagement and crowdfunding with Bill Huston
Crowdfunding can attract capital to new and growing businesses, and the "return on crowd" is measured in much more than dollars. In the final Creating Community Vitality podcast, crowdfunding expert Bill Huston provides tips and strategies for effectively attracting dedicated customers and investors. Learn more about Pittsburgh's Honeycomb Credit. Learn more about the American Dream Marketplace. Get the full, year-long Creating Community Vitality series of webinars and podcasts here. Bill Huston educates entrepreneurs, nonprofits and small businesses on how to raise community capital using seed and investment crowdfunding. He has managed dozens of successful crowdfunding campaigns globally throughout his 8 years in the crowdfunding industry. In 2014, INC. Magazine named him a top 19 global crowdfunding expert. Huston provides community capital consulting and coaching that focuses on social entrepreneurs, community-level real estate development and nonprofits that are creating businesses to solve social issues. He focuses on building engaged and excited crowds that will allow NonProfits & Social Enterprises to successfully participate in the community capital and Locavesting economy.
December 17, 2021
58. Shaping Intentional Spaces ⇒ Kirsten Moore on Harrisonburg's Magpie & The Perch
Kirsten Moore opened Magpie–a breakfast and lunch diner-inspired restaurant and bakery, and The Perch at Magpie–a coworking space for small businesses, freelancers, and remote workers—in July 2020 in the middle of the pandemic lockdown. Having started an extensive historic renovation of an old auto service building in September of 2019 to house the businesses, it was a train that couldn’t be stopped once the pandemic hit. As it turned out, it wasn’t the worst possible time to open, but rather the perfect time to open. An entrepreneur and food writer with a background in design and marketing, Magpie is the culmination of many aspects of her career and synthesis of her passions.  Get the full Creating Community Vitality Series here.
November 15, 2021
57. Building a System of Weatherization Resources for Energy Efficiency ⇒ DHCD's Jennifer Mares
By layering weatherization and energy efficiency resources, DHCD's new Weatherization Deferral Repair Program will help more people in need and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In this episode marking Energy Awareness Month and the 45th Annual Weatherization Day, DHCD staff member Jennifer Wares shares her path in energy efficiency and how DHCD and its partners are improving homes and lives through a systems approach to home repair and assistance.
October 30, 2021
56. Making the Most of Your Community's Public Spaces ⇒ National Main Street Center's Lindsey Wallace
Public spaces – ones that are truly equitable and inclusive – are essential for creating community vitality. Our continued health and racial pandemics prove the urgency of more in-depth analysis and thinking for what these spaces need to and must be. Get to know the National Main Street Center's Lindsey Wallace as she tours us through national examples as communities make the most of their public spaces. Lindsey Wallace has over twelve years of experience in historic preservation, community engagement, and project management. As Director of Strategic Projects and Design Services for the National Main Street Center (NMSC), she leads a variety of projects and partnerships, including the NPS Main Street Façade Improvement Grant Program, NPS Disaster Preparedness and Resilience Program and the Historic Commercial District Revolving Loan Fund Program. Wallace teaches the Advanced Principles of Quality Design course through the Main Street America Institute (MSAI), and, as part of the NMSC field staff team, she focuses on design related and placemaking initiatives and content. Grab all the webinars and podcasts in the year long Creating Community Vitality Series here.
October 18, 2021
55. Brookings Institution's Jennifer S. Vey on Transformative Placemaking
More people and places can benefit from interconnected place-focused policies and programs. That's a key idea of transformative placemaking, says Brookings Institution's Jennifer S. Vey in this episode of Partners for Better Communities.  And those strategies have to be rooted in the assets of local residents and businesses. "If the leadership is dominated by a small group of people, even if they are ostensibly acting on behalf " says Vay, "there will be a mismatch that causes conflict. There will be too many people who's preferences and need aren't represented." Vey is a senior fellow and the director of the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Center for Transformative Placemaking at the Brookings Institution. Her work primarily explores how place-based policies and practices can support economic, social and built environments that benefit more people in more places. She is the author or co-author of numerous Brookings publications, including “Transformative placemaking: A framework to create connected, vibrant, and inclusive communities,” “Where jobs are concentrating and why it matters to cities and regions,” “Assessing your innovation district: A how-to guide” and “Building from strength: Creating opportunity in Greater Baltimore’s next economy.” She also co-edited Retooling for Growth: Building a 21st Century Economy in America’s Older Industrial Areas, published by the American Assembly and Brookings Institution Press. Sign up for the Center's newsletter here. Find all the podcasts and webinars in the Creating Community Vitality series here.
September 13, 2021
54. Fostering BOK's Vibrant Community of Emerging Businesses ⇒ SCOUT's Lindsey Scannapieco
We're talking support for food-based businesses and small scale manufacturing in the August installment of the Creating Community Vitality series.  Bok Vocational High School was built in 1936 and accommodated 3,000 students from across Philadelphia studying subjects like wallpapering, cosmetology, auto mechanics, bricklaying, and more. In 2013, the school closed due to decreased enrollment and deferred maintenance. Today it's a hub of more than 200 businesses serving a neighborhood in a new and exciting way. Lindsey Scannapieco is the Managing Partner of SCOUT, a multi-disciplinary design and development firm with a background in transforming vacant and underutilized spaces in creative ways. Scannapieco speaks about the adaptive reuse project repurposing the former classrooms of a historic school into space for makers, nonprofits, small businesses, and artists.  Shortly after, SCOUT took ownership of the building, and, over the past five years, the building has become a hub for makers, entrepreneurs, and small businesses. Check out BOK here. Check out other offerings in the Creating Community Vitality series.
August 16, 2021
53. The Neighborhood as Butterfly ⇒ Creating Community Vitality with LISC's Becca Richardson
Becca Richardson's work investing in neighborhoods and communities is deeply personal. So is this conversation with DHCD's Rebecca Rowe, in which the Richmond based economic development and community finance professional digs into how we can better engage in the world around us. Becca Richmond currently serves Virginia residents through her work at LISC Virginia. "The people in a community have the solutions. They know what they need," says Richardson. "The community will tell you how to help them." Most recently, Becca served as the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Opportunity Zones as Director of Project Development for Opportunity Virginia, an initiative led by Virginia Community Capital and funded by Virginia Housing. Becca spent her prior 15 years in the financial services industry, from private equity to municipal bonds compliance and mutual funds. She has a B.A. in Economics from Barnard College of Columbia University. Becca enjoys front porch chatting and outdoor adventures with her wife and two children.
July 19, 2021
52. Creating Community Vitality with The Tomorrow Building ⇒ Lamp Post Properties' Tiffanie Robinson
How does a community make it easy for newcomers to try it on for size?  Check out the innovative strategy of Chatanooga, Tennessee's The Tomorrow Building, a model that's quickly being explored by other cities eager to attract and retain a talented workforce and create community vitality. Tiffanie Robinson, a leader behind the effort by Lamp Post Properties, says, "We work hard to integrate residents in the community of the building, but we also work to connect them with what's happening in the community." Tiffanie Robinson serves as the President/CEO of Lamp Post Properties. She fell in love with Chattanooga when she moved to the city in 2007 and is grateful to be a part of the exciting growth that’s taken place over the last 10 years. Tiffanie spends her time thinking of strategic partners and pathways for LPP. She enjoys musical theater, Stevie Nicks, karaoke and playing with her kids, Elijah and Redding.
June 14, 2021
51. Preparing for Disaster ⇒ Building Safety Month with Jimmy Moss
To wrap up Building Safety Month, DHCD Code and Regulation Specialist Paul Messplay talks disaster preparedness with Virginia Building and Code Officials Association (VCBOA) President Jimmy Moss.  "If a resident can walk into a building and not wonder if they are safe or not, we've done our job," says Moss.  Hear the full episode and go deeper below. Learn more about Building Safety Month Learn more about the International Code Council Learn more about VCBOA Learn more about Disaster Preparedness Learn more about Virginia Building Codes
May 27, 2021
50. Water Safety Codes and Care ⇒ Building Safety Month with Kris Bridges
Dive into water safety codes in this seasonal reminder with Martinsville Building Code Official Kris Bridges. "First," says Bridges, "there's no replacement for proper adult supervision."  How else can you keep your family and community safe? Listen in for an engaging conversation with DHCD's Amanda Love, and get more information below. International Code Council Building Safety Month Water Safety Week Virginia Building Codes This repeat episode was first heard in June 2020.
May 20, 2021
49. Remote-ready strategies building equity and community vitality ⇒ NextHERE's Aaron Bolzle
The Creating Community Vitality series continues with NextHERE's Aaron Bolzle. The Tulsa, Oklahoma-based consultant is sharing strategies learned from the success of Tulsa Remote, an intentional effort to attract and support remote workers to the Oil Capital of the World. This 21st Century strategy is about more than attracting disposable income.  "It's about every single person feeling like they have an opportunity to be a positive part of the community and workforce," says Bolzle. Join us for Bolzle's thoughtful conversation with DHCD's Rebecca Rowe for new perspectives, ideas and inspiration.
May 17, 2021
48. Building Safety Month ⇒ On Training the Next Generation with Jimmy Moss
International Code Council (ICC) Building Safety Month continues with week two on Training the Next Generation.  As President of the Virginia Building & Code Officials Association, City of Galax Special Projects Coordinator Jimmy Moss is actively involved in advancing the profession of a group committed to protecting the health, safety, and welfare of Virginians. Key in this work is something close to Jimmy's heart, engaging high school and college students in the field: The High School and College Technical Training Program. Hear Jimmy's conversation with DHCD's Stephen Reynolds, touching on the educational and life benefits of the program. "It can help provide a pool of people with a base knowledge of trades who can then get experience in the field and eventually become qualified inspectors." Want more code talk? Try the ICC podcast, ICC Pulse, or the VBCOA Final Friday Chat Series with Jimmy Moss.
May 13, 2021
47. Energy and Innovation in the Building Code ⇒ Viridiant's KC Bleile marks Building Safety Month
DHCD Staff Member Richard Potts celebrates week one of Building Safety Month with a conversation with Viridiant's KC Bleile. "We're collaboratively working within an industry to make important improvements," says Bleile. Many of those improvements are happening in the Virginia Building Code and through innovations in products, systems, policy and financing mechanisms that will drive greater energy efficiency.   Learn more about Viridiant, a Virginia organization advancing sustainable, affordable and energy efficient construction through education and technical support, including advancing the EarthCraft Virginia program. Check in on more Building Safety Month events from the International Code Council. Learn about the Virginia Code Development Process.
May 06, 2021
46. Achieving Community Goals through Business Development ⇒ The Advancement Foundation's Annette Patterson
Vinton, Virginia-based nonprofit The Advancement Foundation is growing a small-business and community development structure that now encompasses 650 program alumni and more than 200 mentors and industry experts. The work began with a local Community Business Launch (CBL)-funded competition, and since, The Gauntlet has grown in reach and resources, serving 150 entrepreneurs this year. "We see ourselves as the wide-end of the funnel," says founder Annette Patterson. "We've uncovered incredible talent in the most rural of areas across our region." Learn more about the organization, the program and the layering of DHCD resources in this episode of the podcast.
April 28, 2021
45. Deep Community Listening ⇒ Solving for the future with The Spark Mill's Sarah Milston
Sarah Milston listens. In her work with communities and organizations at The Spark Mill, she helps future-focused groups frame the right questions though authentic community engagement. "The key," she says, "is deep, deep listening." Even shaping the questions needs greater participation, she says. "We'll create a better product through deep listening." Milston says it's worth the effort and expense, pointing to housing authorities across the country. "The most successful housing authorities developed engagement programs that were authentic, robust and ongoing." Hear the full conversation with DHCD's Katherine Miller and get more in the Creating Community Vitality series, including a full program, participation workbook, and webinar and podcast archives.
April 19, 2021
43. National Association of Counties' Jack Morgan ⇒ Strategies for resilient counties
Resilience might be defined as a practiced state of readiness. But what does that look like across the country? "We're finding that many of our rural communities were already working on strategies that served them well during the pandemic," says Jack Morgan, program manager for resilient economies and communities for the National Association of Counties (NACO). His work at NACO gives Jack a high-elevation view of the factors that position counties for success. NACo has launched the NACo COVID-19 Recovery Clearinghouse, which houses critical resources for counties, including allocation estimations, examples of county programs using federal coronavirus relief funds, the latest news and more. Since recording the episode, the U.S. Senate passed the American Rescue Plan Act on March 6th . The bill will now heads back to the U.S. House of Representatives for final consideration. The State and Local Coronavirus Fiscal Recovery Funds legislation includes $65.1 billion in direct, flexible aid to every county in America, and other crucial investments in local communities. Some notes from this conversation: 2021 NACo Legislative Conference, March 8-24th NACo County Explorer   Coal’s Decline Fosters News Thinking , NACo County News   Delta County, Colo. ENGAGE
March 25, 2021
44. What's your Story? ⇒ Elevating your Mission with Raven Bates and Andrea Dono
Raven Bates has a passion for nonprofits and is driven by the work they do to transform lives and communities. Spending her entire career gaining experience in all aspects of mission-oriented work, Bates brings a well-rounded and diverse perspective as a nonprofit professional. In 2017, she joined VCDC to serve as the administrator of the Mission Elevation program, an extension of VCDC’s commitment to ensure communities are vibrant for all residents. Joined by Andrea Dono of Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance and DHCD's Rebecca Rowe, the group discusses the program and tools that will help your organization thrive. This is the third podcast of in the Creating Community Vitality series.  Get the full program, a participation workbook, and webinar and podcast archives here.
March 16, 2021
42. The power of sharing creative ideas ⇒ Creating Community Vitality with Laura Scherling
In the second podcast of our yearlong Creating Community Vitality Series, DHCD's Katherine Miller explores placemaking with GreenspaceNYC's Laura Scherling. "Vibrant, well-maintained public spaces play an important role in our daily lives," says Scherling, and art and creativity can play a role in imagining these spaces.  Scherling specializes in interactive design, research, and management. She has over 10 years of experience in marketing and advertising and currently works and teaches at Columbia University’s School of Professional Studies. Scherling is the co-founder Civc Art Lab and GreenspaceNYC, a non-profit collaborative that develops and curates free educational programming, hands-on workshops and public design projects that encourage dialogue, enliven public spaces and promote the future of a more equitable and sustainable city.   Explore with Scherling how residents and volunteers are creating community, piloting ideas and making better places together.
February 15, 2021
41. Appalachian Leadership Institute Fellow Lydeana Martin ⇒ Choosing Floyd County
A community development philosophy centered around locally grown business and care for neighbors comes through in this conversation celebrating Lydeana Martin's graduation in the inaugural class of the Appalachian Leadership Institute.  The yearlong program focuses on economic development in the 13 state Appalachian region, and Martin was one of Virginia's first cohort of fellows to complete it. The program both reinforced and further shaped thinking for the Floyd County economic and community development director. "In Floyd County, we give most of our attention to people who have already chosen Floyd County," says Martin. The Southwest Virginia county of 15,000 people has an outsized identity shaped by its entrepreneurs, the rural quality of life, traditional music and craft, and, yes, its one stoplight. Listen to this conversation on building community bridges and just try not to choose Floyd County yourself, if only for a visit.
February 02, 2021
40. This is Where You Belong ⇒ Creating Community Vitality with Author Melody Warnick
Kick off a year's worth of enlightening conversation with the Creating Community Vitality series from the Community Revitalization Office. Each month of 2021, take part in an informational webinar, hear an inspirational podcast, and go deeper on the Virginia Main Street blog. Joining Associate Director Rebecca Rowe, our first podcast guest, Melody Warnick, is the author of This is Where You Belong: Finding Home Wherever You Are (Penguin Books, 2017).  Hear about her path to belonging in her community, and dig into why some "soft" seeming investments might mean hard dollars for your community.
January 18, 2021
39. Kay Taylor ⇒ Winning the Training Game
Attendees of the 2020 Virginia Governors Housing Conference will have the opportunity to play the Diversity and Inclusion edition of Winning the Training Game. Hear trainer Kay Taylor describe the fun and competitive conversation starter and its tradition at the Governor's Housing Conference. Register for the conference until Friday, November 13.  
November 10, 2020
38. Building homes, community, and hope with Habitat's Cassie Kimberlin
Greater Fredericksburg Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Cassie Kimberlin connects the personal experience, a passion for addressing housing needs and the individual's ability to contribute in this conversation with DHCD's Kyerra Carr from the 2019 Virginia Governor's Housing Conference.  
November 09, 2020
37. Virginia Governor Ralph Northam ⇒ Housing in an Economy that Works for All Virginians
"We're working to help businesses in Virginia and to bring new businesses to Virginia, and that means we have to have affordable housing,"  Governor Ralph Northam told DHCD staff member Kyerra Carr at the 2019 Virginia Governor's Housing Conference. "Approaching affordable housing is a team effort, and innovation is important."        Gather with the team to explore the latest innovations as we're Responding Boldly in a Changing World at the 2020 Virginia Governor's Housing Conference. 
November 02, 2020
36. Chris Thompson and Amanda Love ⇒ Rent and Mortgage Relief for Virginians
Stay Home Virginia. The Commonwealth is rallying coordinated relief to keep residents in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. In this episode Virginia Housing's Chris Thompson joins DHCD's Amanda Love for a conversation about the resources available for tenants, homeowners, and landlords. "Housing is a fundamental part of our livelihoods," says Thompson, "and this pandemic has intensified the level of awareness around how important it is to have safe, decent and affordable housing." Share this central link for resources ( with those in need of assistance, and hear the full conversation wherever you get your podcasts.
October 30, 2020
35. Ava Gabrielle-Wise ⇒ Addressing regional housing challenges on the Eastern Shore
Ava Gabrielle-Wise continues a family legacy of working for safe and affordable housing on Virginia's Eastern Shore. The executive director of New Road Community Development Corporation of Exmore, Inc. spoke with DHCD staff at the 2019 Virginia Governor's Housing Conference. "We're working to strengthen the capacity and skill sets of local housing practitioners," said Gabrielle-Wise. The region is advancing strategies identified in a 2019 regional housing summit. Hear the full conversation here.
October 24, 2020
34. Michelle Coward ⇒ Advancing tenant safety by reducing lead hazards in Richmond
At the 2019 Virginia Governor's Housing Conference, we caught up with Michelle Coward, the operations manager for property maintenance code enforcement for the City of Richmond. "We're empowering residents," Michelle told DHCD's Rajan Engh. "Everyone deserves to live in a space free of lead hazards." Hear more in the full episode and visit to explore what your community can do to address lead hazards.
October 22, 2020
33. Cheryl S. Carter ⇒ Providing housing solutions in Culpeper
"It's such a blessing to be able to help others," says Cheryl S. Carter of Culpeper Housing and Shelter Services. Cheryl's spent a career providing housing solutions and shelter in the Culpeper area, and she shows no sign of stopping. In this conversation with DHCD's Traci Munyan, learn about the wide range of partnerships and support resources that help the organization do more than  temporarily shelter families.
October 20, 2020
32. JaLauna Burton ⇒ Public housing as a stepping stone in Williamsburg
"The best part of my job is watching residents leave," says JaLauna Burton,  public housing administrator at the Williamsburg Redevelopment and Housing Authority. Incorporating first-time home buyer, budgeting, and home repair classes, the organization is housing families with an eye to helping them take their next step. Hear the full conversation with DHCD staff member Kyerra Carr from the 2019 Virginia Governor's Housing Conference, and register for this year's today!
October 19, 2020
31. Kimberly Blossom ⇒ Partnership & Engagement in Norfolk's Ohio Creek Watershed
Listen in on a conversation from the 2019 Virginia Governor's Housing Conference.  Resiliency Program Manager Traci Munyan talks about the partnerships and engagement strategies behind the living shoreline project in Norfolk's Ohio Creek watershed with VHB team member Kimberly Blossom.  "The engagement, the networking, the team dynamic was fun to be a part of," says Blossom. Hear the full conversation.
October 16, 2020
30. St Paul's Downtown Infrastructure Investment ⇒ 2020 Virginia Main Street Best Public Project
Spanning seven years and seven blocks, St. Paul, Virginia, completed its comprehensive downtown infrastructure project in 2019. Lead by the town, with input from St. Paul Tomorrow’s Design Committee in the early stages, this $16 million project reconstructed the stormwater system, sidewalks, curbing, roadways, crosswalks, water lines and sanitary sewer lines. The need for upgrading arose from increased demand for water and wastewater, deterioration of the existing infrastructure and a desire to reinvent the Town’s image as a tourist destination. Hear from St. Paul Main Street Director Kathy Stewart about the planning, communication, and commitment it takes to pull off a project like this.
September 30, 2020
30. Harrisonburg's Lineage ⇒ 2020 Virginia Main Street Outstanding Business
Watching Lineage owner Paul Hansbarger work on his signature leather and waxed cotton canvas designs is a key attraction at Agora Downtown Market in Harrisonburg, Shoppers marvel in the details of the totes, weekenders, backpacks, and accessories. Now hear him in conversation with  Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance Executive Director Andrea Dono on the development of his business and the role of the downtown district in his business model. "Offering a unique experience, a story, and a place where people can really experience something special," says Hansbarger, is just part of the plan. 
September 24, 2020
29. Winchester's Holly Redding ⇒ 2020 Virginia Main Street Volunteer of the Year
Winchester entrepreneur Holly Redding inspires volunteers and residents with a unique, infectious brand of can-do, creative energy. This year, she was awarded the 2020 Virginia Main Street Merit Award for Volunteer of the Year. Join her Winchester Brew Works business partner, Bonnie Landy, and the staff of the Old Town Advancement Commission in a look at the importance of leadership, volunteerism, and getting things done with a bit of spirit, flair, and laughter .
September 16, 2020
28. Grizzly's Hatchet House ⇒ 2020 Virginia Main Street Outstanding Business
Grizzly's Hatchet House has developed a new gathering spot in Danville's River District. Join owner Christie Wall and River District Executive Director Diana Schwartz for a conversation about entrepreneurship that's good for the community. Grizzly's Hatchet House is a 2020 Virginia Main Street Merit Award Winner for Outstanding Business.
September 09, 2020
27. Strasburg's Grilled Cheese + Tomato Soup Festival ⇒ 2020 Virginia Main Street Best Business Promotion
At the recent 2020 Downtown Intersections virtual conference Merit Awards session, the Town of Strasburg received the Best Downtown Business Promotion award for their annual Grilled Cheese + Tomato Soup Festival, a food festival celebrating the delicious duo and nourishing the local economy.  Hear the behind-the-scenes of the festival's development and success with Olivia Hilton, Community Development Coordinator for the Town of Strasburg. "We want to keep it quaint and small and benefiting our restaurants and businesses," says Hilton. You might have to  get on a waiting list to attend, but we bet there are more innovative community-oriented events up their sleeves and even more reasons to visit Strasburg once we get past the COVID limitations. Subscribe to Partners for Better Communities wherever you get your podcasts.
September 02, 2020
26. Sip and Shop in Manassas ⇒ 2020 Virginia Main Street Best Business Promotion
Hear the behind-the-scenes scoop on how Sip and Shop became a reality for Downtown Manassas. The recurring event allows attendees to bring their favorite adult beverage along to wander and explore the streets downtown. Debbie Haight, Executive Director of Historic Manassas, Inc., worked closely with a local ABC agent to secure a Special Event License and coordinated with the City Manager, City Council, and Police Department to iron out the logistics and regulations.  With the sign-off and support from these city officials, Debbie then took to the streets to meet face-to-face with the owners of the retail stores and restaurants in the designated area to explain the concept and build excitement. "Sip and Shop was the one singular event that each month created revenue and brought new visitors to downtown," says Haight. Learn more at
August 27, 2020
25. Wytheville's Seven Sisters Brewery ⇒ 2020 Virginia Main Street Outstanding Adaptive Reuse Project
Wytheville's R.P. Johnson's building was built in 1939. The business, established in 1840 was a large manufacturer of wagons and carriages until 1928. Now the site is a downtown gathering space in the form of Seven Sisters Brewery. Join property developer Bill Smith, brewer David Clark, and Downtown Wytheville, Inc. Executive Director Todd Wolford for a conversation about the community and this important transformation.  "This has been a game changer for our community," says Wolford. Hear the full episode here and read more about the project at
August 20, 2020
24. Chickahominy Tribal Chief Stephen R. Adkins ⇒ It's on us to tell our story
At the 2019 Virginia Governor's Housing Conference, Ramona Chapman sat down with Chickahominy Tribal Chief Stephen R. Adkins. The Federally recognized tribe is one of seven in Virginia. The greater access to Federal resources can help make long term goals a reality. "I'd like to see the Chickahominy Indian Tribe develop viable economic projects," says Chief Adkins. "I'd like to be in a position to provide jobs for our tribal citizens." The story of the Chickahominy Tribe is one of both past and future, and it's a story worth telling, and hearing. Hear the full conversation wherever you get your podcasts.
August 13, 2020
23. Upper Mattaponi Tribal Chief W. Frank Adams ⇒ On education, housing and the future
Marking the Virginia Tribal Affordable Housing Summit, Ramona Chapman looks back at a conversation with Upper Mattaponi Tribal Chief W. Frank Adams. The session was recorded following the 2019 Virginia Governor's Housing Conference panel session that kicked off a collaborative look at housing across Virginia's tribes, coordinated by Virginia DHCD, and Virginia Housing. "My dream," says Chief Adams, "now that we've been Federally recognized, is to acquire some funds to buy some property and and build some homes on that property for our low income Native Americans who would love to move back, but can't afford to." Hear the full conversation wherever you get your podcasts.
August 12, 2020
22. Facing COVID with Giles County's Chris McKlarney ⇒ Innovative collaborations in the New River Valley
Giles County Administrator Chris McKlarney is known for a specific brand of supportive, collaborative, and action-oriented leadership. With other New River Valley partners, the County organized early to support small businesses, quickly creating a gift card program and structuring a model approach to helping businesses when they have an active contact with the virus. "We need to do everything we can to keep our people safe," says McKlarney.  And they're doing it together. "Communities in the New River Valley have always gotten along exceptionally well. We've always collaborated and cooperated very well." That practice of collaboration is paying off: the region organized early and the Business Continuity Team program has received $250,000 in funding through GO Virginia. Hear how the County, and the region, is layering resources including DHCD's Community Business Launch and Community Development Block Grant program. Check out Giles County, Virginia's Mountain Playground, here. Get more information on COVID-19 resources at
August 07, 2020
21. Duane Miller ⇒ A food access solution that supports businesses during COVID-19
LENOWISCO Planning District Commission Executive Director Duane Miller joins the podcast to talk about the creative COVID relief strategy of Lunchbox 276. "We're helping families and helping businesses at the same time," says Miller.  Explore how to use CDBG to help in COVID recovery. Learn more by listening here, or wherever you get your podcasts.  Photo by Tim Cox.
July 30, 2020
20. Martinsville's Kris Bridges ⇒ Keeping Summer Pools Safe
Martinsville Building Official Kris Bridges serves on the board of directors of the International Code Council. In this conversation he turns his broad experience and commitment to building safety to the backyard summer retreat: the family pool or hot tub. What should family's watch for? "First," says Bridges, "there's no replacement for proper adult supervision."  How can you keep your community safe as families spend a COVID summer in the great backyard? Listen in and get more information here.
July 10, 2020
19. RISE's Katerina Oskarsson ⇒ Spurring innovation to address a global challenge in Hampton Roads
In this episode, Rajan Engh interviews DHCD's Lee Hutchinson and Dr. Katerina Oskarsson around the work of RISE, a regional resiliency and economic development strategy to position Hampton Roads as a global leader in addressing the challenges of sea-level rise.  In 2017, the Commonwealth of Virginia was awarded $120.5 million through the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) National Disaster Resilience Competition (NDRC) for innovative projects in the Hampton Roads region. Of this award, HUD allocated $5.25 million to support the development of the nation’s first-of-its-kind resilience innovation hub called RISE to accelerate innovation in resilience-building solutions, and to demonstrate how adaptation to the impacts of climate change can be turned into an economic growth and job creation engine for coastal regions. "RISE strategies position the region as a test bed for innovation," says Oskarsson. "We're working to leverage our assets to attract the next generation of entrepreneurs and solutions for innovative trials in a real-world environment."
June 22, 2020
18. Ramona Chapman ⇒ Using DISC personality analysis to understand your team during COVID-19
DHCD Capacity Development Specialist Ramona Chapman is certified in using the DISC personality profile to help teams work better together. In our conversation, she highlights how different personality types respond in times of uncertainty and crisis. Get more information on the DISC assessment: Contact Ramona Chapman here.
June 15, 2020
17. Building Safety Month with Galax's Jimmy Moss ⇒ The Code as the roadmap to where we want to be
Virginia Building and Code Officials Association President Jimmy Moss mark Building Safety Month in this conversation with DHCD's Amanda Love. Broad stakeholder participation marks the ongoing development of the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code (USBC). "It's not like it's written by someone and handed down," says Moss. "We help develop it."  Then, across Virginia, building departments and code officials use it to help develop safe, sustainable, and affordable communities. "The idea is not for the code to be an obstacle, but the roadmap to where (the customer) wants to be."  Moss is the City of Galax projects manager. May is the International Code Council (ICC) Building Safety Month. Safer buildings, safer communities, safer world. #buildingsafety365
May 27, 2020
16. Ara Mendoza on the Continuum of Care ⇒ Main Street restaurants partner to feed sheltered homeless
Partnering across the enterprise of DHCD programs helps to foster creative partnerships at the local level. In this episode, Amanda Love speaks with Continuum of Care lead Ara Mendoza about creative local partnerships deploying local restaurants to feed homeless individuals and families temporarily sheltered in hotels and motels because of COVID-19. "This is a team effort," says Mendoza. "You see people working around the clock to respond to community needs." A statewide call resulted in creative partnerships that quickly responded to support the most vulnerable in communities from Southwest Virginia to the Eastern Shore. Learn more about the Continuum of Care (CoC) Local Planning Group (LPG) Restaurant Program Learn more about the Balance of State (V0S) Continuum of Care (CoC) regions. Find Shelter Guidance and Provider Resources Learn more about Virginia Main Street Contact Get more COVID-19 resources.
May 23, 2020
15. GO Virginia's Sara Dunnigan ⇒ Mitigating COVID-19 impacts with the Economic Resiliency and Recovery Program
In mid April, the Growth and Opportunity for Virginia (GO Virginia) Board approved a policy to implement the GO VA Economic Resilience and Recovery Grant Program for up to $14.66 million in GO Virginia competitive funds to be dedicated statewide. Each GO Virginia regional council may apply for up to $1 million to support strategic initiatives in response to the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In this conversation with Amanda Love, DHCD Deputy Director Sara Dunnigan reviews the quick action taken by the GO Virginia Board and shares the first three projects funded through the Economic Resiliency and Recovery Program. "The Regional GO Virginia boards are really stepping up, and we see GO Virginia as an important piece of regional recovery efforts statewide," says Dunnigan. Learn more about GO Virginia Read about GO Virginia's COVID-19 Funding Policy
May 19, 2020
14. Orton Family Foundation's Sara Lightner ⇒ Shaping Community Heart & Soul
Community Heart & Soul is a community engagement process at work in towns across the country. Created by the Orton Family Foundation as a way to help communities involve everyone, invest in what matters most to residents, and plan for the future, the process is being explored by several Virginia communities.  In this conversation, Orton Family Foundation Director of Training Sara Lightner gives a background of the program and highlights how it's been used over the past decade. "Really listening, and trying to ensure that everyone is part of the conversation helps to weave everyone together so that the long game is part of it," says Lightner. "We're not just here for the right now, but we're here to make sure the decisions we make now take into account impacts years to come." In Virginia, the communities of Bowling Green, Orange, and the Alleghany Highlands are all exploring the Community Heart & Soul model. Get more information on Community Heart & Soul here.
May 13, 2020
13. Community Housing Partners' Samantha Livesay ⇒ A homeownership strategy in the NRV
In a conversation from the November 2019 Virginia Governor's Housing Conference, DHCD's Kyerra Carr talks with Community Housing Partners' Samantha Livesay about strategies to support homeownership in the New River Valley. In partnership with institutional partners and localities, the organization is working to intervene in an area with increasing housing costs. "We want to live out our mission by creating homes and communities that are healthy, affordable and sustainable," says Livesay. "Homebuyer education is an important part of that." Get more information from Community Housing Partners (CHP) Learn about CHP Homeownership  Get ready for the 2020 Virginia Governor's Housing Conference
May 11, 2020
12. Todd Wolford ⇒ Business support during COVID-19 & Wytheville's lessons from the polio past
In this episode, Downtown Wytheville, Inc. Executive Director Todd Wolford discusses business support though the pandemic, sharing lessons learned during the course of the Southwest Virginia community's recent downtown renaissance. "We've become a hub of information," says Wolford, "so a lot of people were looking at our organization saying 'What are you going to do?' It's a lot of pressure."  What this Virginia Main Street community is doing: helping businesses navigate uncertain terrain and access financial resources, including a new micro loan program. Tough circumstances are not new for this downtown district. Seventy years ago, polio struck the community with one of the largest outbreaks per capita in the country. During the "summer without children," the summer destination closed businesses and sent visitors away. More recently Downtown Wytheville, Inc. helped district businesses navigate the challenges of a streetscape improvement process that limited access to downtown businesses.  Get resources for COVID-19 business support in your community at the following locations: DHCD COVID-19 Resources Page Virginia Main Street COVID-19 Resources Page
May 08, 2020
11. Q&A with Rachel Jordan ⇒ Using CDBG in response to COVID-19
As the Policy and Strategic Development staff in Community Development roll out guidance for using Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds to address COVID-19, they're answering lots of questions. Learn from their conversations with more than 70 Virginia communities and get the latest guidance from Policy Analyst Rachel Jordan. CDBG COVID-19 Landing Page: Click here  CDBG COVID-19 Fact Sheet: Click here CDBG COVID-19 Response: Click here CDBG COVID-19 Webinar Recording: Click here CDBG COVID-19 Podcast Recording with Matt Weaver: Click here CDBG COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): Click here DHCD COVID-19 Landing Page: Click here
May 06, 2020
10. Mahalia Dryden-Mason ⇒ Fair Housing for All
Mahalia Dryden-Mason is an advocate and resource for fair, safe, affordable housing for all Virginians.   In this conversation with DHCD's Kyerra Carr at the 2019 Virginia Governor's Housing Conference, Dryden-Mason talks about what drives her work through the Virginia Fair Housing Office at the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Relations (DPOR).  "At the end of the day," she says, "I have to see some results." Get more information on fair housing at: Fair Housing Office Virginia Governor's Housing Conference Save the date for the 2020 Virginia Governor's Housing Conference: November 18-20 in Roanoke.
April 23, 2020
9. Arlington Chief Building Official Shahriar Amiri ⇒ Creating a Virtual Building Department
Arlington County quickly responded to the challenge of providing building services during the closures of public spaces during COVID-19. "We thought at first it was a monumental task, but found that it wasn't that difficult," says Chief Building Official and Inspection Services Director Shariar Amiri. Having moved the review and inspection process to online and virtual delivery, Amiri says, "If I had known, we would have done this three years ago." In this interview with DHCD Rajan Engh, Amiri shares the goals, the path, and the rewards of moving to a 100% online and virtual system to keep processes moving.  Rajan Engh is a training and development specialist and the learning center administrator of the Jack A. Proctor Virginia Building Code Academy.  Get COVID-19 resources. Watch a webinar with Shahriar Amiri on Arlington's innovative approach.
April 21, 2020
8. Matt Weaver on COVID-19 ⇒ Addressing urgent need with community development block grants
How can community development block grant resources address the urgent needs of a COVID-19 Virginia?  Matt Weaver, associate director of Community Development's Policy and Strategic Development Office, walks us through the program and some strategies emerging across Virginia's communities. Get an overview of CDBG urgent need resources at Track all of DHCD resources and updates at
April 13, 2020
7. Rebecca Rowe ⇒ Community Revitalization Strategies and COVID-19
DHCD Associate Director of Community Development oversees the Community Revitalization Office (CRO). The CRO team is converting its technical assistance and resources to serve Virginia business districts remotely. Working with the Virginia Main Street program, local leaders have access to webinars and ongoing grant programs. Designated Main Street communities can currently apply for quick-response grants. And across the Main Street Network, both designated and affiliated communities share best practices and resources. "We are in a really challenging moment for small communities and small businesses, and it's also a spotlight moment for small businesses nationally," says Rowe. "There's a recognition of how important they are." Connect with CRO staff about your needs or sign up for an upcoming training. DHCD COVID Page Virginia Main Street COVID Page Virginia Main Street Training The next scheduled training will be Upper Story Housing (Understanding the Field) on April 22 at 11 a.m. and Upper Story Housing (Exploring the Opportunities) on April 29 at 11 a.m.
April 07, 2020
6. Nichele Carver on COVID-19 ⇒ Fast action to shelter the homeless
"I've never seen anything like the speed with which we moved to get money into communities," says Nichele Carver, DHCD's associate director of homeless and special needs housing. These are extraordinary circumstances, in which those in need of shelter are faced with life-threatening conditions. Hear about the quick-action strategies that a range of state agencies, partners and communities took to be as responsive as possible, as quickly as possible. Get more information at Read about the April 3 announcement on emergency funding at Governor Northam's website.
April 07, 2020
5. Amanda Love ⇒ DHCD's COVID-19 Response
Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development Public Relations Director Amanda Love catches us up on the agency's response and coordination of resources to help community partners navigate new terrain under COVID-19 precautions. Together we'll keep the commonwealth as healthy and strong as possible and work to mitigate health and economic impacts.  Find DHCD COVID-19 resources and updates at  Visit the Commonwealth's COVID-19 resource page at
March 30, 2020
4. Jane G. Cabarrus ⇒ Building Community at Giddens' Do Drop Inn
Getting things started to improve a community can be as fundamental as bringing people together, providing a space for conversation, and encouraging others to get involved. Weirwood, on Virginia's Eastern Shore has a "legendary" space and leadership doing just that. Enjoy this visit with community spark plug Jane G. Cabarrus, recorded at the 2019 Virginia Governor's Housing Conference. And when you're on the Eastern Shore, visit Giddens' Do Drop Inn.
March 02, 2020
3. Thrive Virginia's Faith Brooks ⇒ Working together for better family outcomes
Residents in rural areas have specific challenges that benefit from regional collaboration. In the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula, service providers are working together through an organized housing coalition to help reduce barriers to resources and services, helping families in need in a timely way. Hear Northern Neck / Middle Peninsula Housing Coalition (NNMPHC) participant Faith Brooks of Thrive Virginia, formerly Quin Rivers, Inc., in this episode of the Partners for Better Communities Podcast.  Governor Northam recently announced continued investments in housing affordability and homeless reduction. The NNMPHC received an intent to fund, pending fund availability, under the announcement. Faith Brooks is the economic services director for Thrive Virginia, a community action agency serving the counties of:  Caroline, Charles City, Hanover, King George, King and Queen, King William, New Kent, Spotsylvania, and Stafford as well as the City of Fredericksburg and the Town of West Point. See the January 23 news release. Learn more about the Virginia's efforts to reduce homelessness. Learn about Quin River's name change.
February 24, 2020
2. Charlottesville RHA's Dave Norris ⇒ "This is an investment in our people"
Continuing from our first conversation with Joy Johnson, Dave Norris describes the resident-led work in redeveloping existing units at Charlottesville's Redevelopment and Housing Authority  "It's a huge undertaking," says Norris. The project affects 376 households, and includes a leadership group of stakeholders who come together weekly. "The fact that we have residents from the neighborhoods leading the a very compelling story," says Norris. "It's not just lip service." Learn about the cross-sector collaboration behind the effort in this 9 minute discussion. ⇒ Public Housing Association of Residents online ⇒ Public Housing Association of Residents on Facebook ⇒ Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority
February 07, 2020
1. PHAR's Joy Johnson ⇒ Resident-led design in Charlottesville
A conversation with Joy Johnson of Charlottesville's Public Housing Association of Residents launches the DHCD Partners for Better Communities Podcast. "We created a positive vision," Ms. Johnson says of the work of eight women residents in determining to rehab existing units to minimize the disruption of resident's lives while reinvesting in quality housing. See images of PHAR's work on their Facebook page. Consider a DHCD planning grant to organize your community to effect positive change in the place they care about most. Learn more about DHCD resources here. 
February 01, 2020
Partners for Better Communities Trailer
The podcast of the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (VADHCD). Each episode features the voices of leaders and change makers across the commonwealth. We'll look at the innovation and inspiration at play as local, regional, and state leaders work together to create safe, affordable, and prosperous communities. 
November 13, 2019