Housing and Hampton Roads: A catalyst for opportunity

The domestic housing market has long been a topic of conversation. From skyrocketing prices to a lack of inventory, the challenge of attainable housing options remains a stubborn obstacle for communities like Hampton Roads and many others across the Commonwealth. Despite many COVID-era pressures relaxing, housing has not seen a reduction in pin fact; some might say it’s only getting worse.

Cox Communications has taken a keen interest in helping to solve these issues. For years, the company has made network investments that help keep high-speed internet affordable in Virginia while also investing in programs that help families on public assistance programs sign up for discounted internet. However, easing pricing pressures in one category doesn’t change those families’ housing burdens.

In Hampton Roads, the average household income is $100,000 – before taxes and other fees bite that bottom line. Unfortunately, Hampton Roads has seen its cost of living accelerate to such a degree that recent studies actually show Northern Virginia as more affordable despite the perception of that part of the Commonwealth being one of the pricier places to put down roots.

In order for Hampton Roads and other communities to grow, the cost of living has to strike an appropriate balance with take-home pay. If the math doesn’t work, families won’t locate here, and businesses like Cox will struggle to find talented workers to join our ranks. According to WHRO, more than a third of Hampton Roads households are cost-burdened.

In response to these challenges, Cox is investing heavily in its Cox Communities organization. This group is tasked with not only providing cutting-edge technology solutions and turnkey packages for residents of multi-family units but also helping make regions it does business in like Hampton Roads, Roanoke, and Northern Virginia attractive for developers to build communities that provide safe, healthy environments for families and individuals of all economic backgrounds.

While some apartment community proposals have faced objections in the region over the years, high-density projects are one of the best ways to create attainable living options—especially for recent graduates just striking out on their own. In a research study conducted by SIR, attainable housing was cited as one of the top three attributes younger generations want in a place.  In fact, safety, employment, and quality/affordability of housing tops the list of wants, handily outpacing concerns like access to public transit and higher education options. Without a younger workforce to replace retiring baby boomers, our tax base will be deleted, which has implications for services we all count on, regardless of our place in life.

Cox, in partnership with developers and property owners, is eager to see Hampton Roads remain a destination for workers, visitors, families, and retirees. By investing in smart growth that provides access to housing that respects the character and charm of the place we call home, Hampton Roads and residents across the Commonwealth can thrive without sacrificing the qualities that make it an exceptional place to live, work, and play.

About the author

Nneka Chiazor is the market vice president for Cox Communications in Hampton Roads, where she oversees the company’s operations in the region, leading more than 1,300 employees. Active in numerous civic and business organizations, Chiazor served as a commissioner on the Virginia Beach Economic Development Authority and currently serves on the Board of Directors of VCTA—Broadband Association of Virginia, the Hampton Roads Executive Roundtable, and the Hampton Roads Military and Federal Facilities Alliance (HRMFFA).