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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.
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25. Wytheville's Seven Sisters Brewery ⇒ 2020 Virginia Main Street Outstanding Adaptive Reuse Project

Partners for Better Communities (Virginia's DHCD Podcast)

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 9, 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 2, 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 7, 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 8, 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 6, 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 7, 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 7, 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 2, 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 7, 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 1, 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