Virginia's Blueprint for Liable Communities

Welcome to Virginia'’’s Blueprint for Livable Communities

VBLC Overview

Unrolled Blueprints As the “Commonwealth of Opportunity”, Virginia strives to be a place where all people are able to experience the dignity of decision-making in their own lives; to have a chance to engage meaningfully in social and civic activities; to participate in the economic mainstream; and to live well while challenging themselves to learn and grow through new experiences.

However, like the majority of states, the Commonwealth historically has not excelled in supporting all of its citizens- older adults and people with disabilities in particular- to reside in the community and live fulfilling lives as integrated members of our society. A vigorous effort to unlock the gates of the community to Virginians of all ages and abilities is now more urgently needed than ever before. One important approach the Commonwealth can take to address this monumental need for community living opportunities is to support livable communities. A “livable community” is a community that is designed and functions in a way that facilitates well-being for all of the people who live there, regardless of age, income, or ability. It is a holistic goal that is achieved through a long-term, open-ended, community planning process. 

What is Livable Communities Planning?

Livable communities planning is the process through which a community focuses on supporting the lifelong wellness of its population through both the design of the spaces people use and the services that support them to do so. The breadth of activities and ideas that can be undertaken as part of building livable communities is perhaps the initiative’s greatest asset because this fluidity makes it an inherently adaptable and inclusive process. An activity aimed at improving community livability can be undertaken by any group of citizens, advocates, or leaders in a community; and the “community” itself can encompass a geographic area that is as small as a city block or neighborhood and as large- or larger than- an entire state. A project need not be comprehensive in order to have an impact: one citizen petitioning for an accessible bus stop or fundraising for a strategically-placed park bench can improve community livability in the same way as a county-wide rezoning initiative or a multi-million-dollar collaboration on an accessible housing development. In short, communities and people may differ widely in how they choose to undertake livable communities planning.

Generally, however, creating a livable community involves a focus that is two-fold:

(1) Alter community design features to make living environments more accessible so individuals are better positioned to integrate into the community.

Examples of community design elements that impact livability include:

  • Location, accessibility, and affordability of housing supply
  • Land use patterns- especially those that influence development such as retail, health, and education
  • Impacts of zoning laws on caregivers’ use of residential space as well as the ease and safety of navigating around the community
  • Availability and accessibility of multiple transportation modes- including “walkability”
  • Availability of space for public use
  • Aesthetic features impacting residents’ perceptions of all of the above

(2) Expand and improve the ability of in-home and community-based services to meet growing needs in the population.

Strategies for expanding the capacity and array of available services while making more efficient use of strained budgets include:

  • Building new partnerships among providers to serve similar needs contiguously,
  • Improve coordination and cooperation among providers in overlapping and adjacent service areas,
  • Continuously reevaluate and respond to the community’s shifting service needs, and
  • Accurately identify gaps in services across and between communities.