Located southeast of the Richmond metropolitan area in the Tidewater region of Virginia, Portsmouth, VA is one of the sixteen jurisdictions that comprise the Hampton Roads Region.  This region, also known as the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News Metropolitan Statistical Area1 (which we refer to in this report as the Virginia Beach MSA or simply MSA), has experienced significant population and economic growth in recent years. This growth, however, has not always been uniformly distributed throughout the region.
Portsmouth’s position in the region has been and remains stable despite sluggish growth indicators.  While the City’s population has declined over the past fifteen years, the decline has been minimal and as recently as 2003, Portsmouth saw a small population increase.  The City’s employment base has remained stable due in part to heavy federal government influence. Yet, Portsmouth’s unemployment rate was the highest in the region at 4.3%. In comparison, the unemployment rate was 3.3% for the MSA in 2006.  House values in Portsmouth are considered some of the most affordable in the region and the City boasts a homeownership rate competitive with the region (Portsmouth’s homeownership rate was 64% compared to the MSA rate of 64.6% in 2005).  Over the past several years, Portsmouth has pursued an aggressive redevelopment agenda that has changed the face of a number of neighborhoods. Overall, Portsmouth offers strong, stable neighborhoods and a variety of housing options. The challenge for Portsmouth is how to attract and retain more middle to high income residents while continuing to serve the needs of all its citizens.