Melissa (Mel) Jones

Melissa (Mel) Jones

Associate Director, Research Scientist
Ms. Jones is a Research Scientist with the Center for Housing Research.


Expertise: Housing Affordability, Economics, Housing Data, Urban Planning


Ms. Jones received undergraduate degrees in Economics and International Service from the American University. She received a Master of Urban and Regional Planning and a Master of Science in Agriculture and Applied Economics from Virginia Tech. Her expertise includes statistical and qualitative economic and policy analysis. She has significant experience and training in program coordination, local and regional economic development, and affordable housing. Ms. Jones’ education and experience will allow her to effectively support the Center’s sustained commitment to affordable housing in Virginia while advancing the Center’s interdisciplinary exploration of new affordable housing topics and resources.

Mel leads housing affordability research at the Center and conducts housing needs assessment for localities throughout Virginia. Recently, she completed an analysis of affordable housing in the Richmond Regional Planning District Commission for the Partnership for Housing Affordability, a housing gap analysis and affordable housing demand analysis for Fairfax County in support of their Consolidated Planning process, a housing conditions study for James City County, an assessment of mobile-home conditions and demographic and economic characteristics of mobile-home residents in Central Appalachia, and an economic impact analysis of the Virginia Housing Trust Fund investments. Mel is the co-principal investigator for the Center’s collaboration with Housing Virginia to maintain and update the affordable housing online tools Housing Affordability Sourcebook and the PLAYBOOK. Sourcebook is an online tool for assessing local housing affordability and includes a variety of housing affordability measures beyond traditional housing cost burden measures for Virginia counties and MSAs. PLAYBOOK is an online searchable inventory of housing policies and programs in Virginia. Currently, Mel is leading a housing and economic development study for the State of Virginia and a housing study for the City of Virginia Beach.

Before joining the Center, Ms. Jones spent one year as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer, serving as Program Coordinator for the Community Housing Partners program, the Community Alliance for Energy Efficiency (CAFE2). CAFE2 guides homeowners through home energy audits and retrofits in an effort to stimulate demand for home energy efficiency products and services. Ms. Jones’ program coordination experience will allow her to effectively manage her administrative responsibilities at the Center. Her training in weatherization and energy efficiency retrofit strategies will allow her to support the Center’s green building technology research agenda. Ms. Jones also spent three years as a graduate research assistant for the Virginia Tech Office of Economic Development (VT-OED). VT-OED serves as an advisor and consultant for Virginia businesses and municipalities. In addition, VT-OED conducts economic development research to benefit the regions in its service area. Ms. Jones collaborated with VT-OED faculty to publish two studies: “The Challenge of Reconciling Development Objectives in the Context of Demographic Change: Evaluating Asset-based Development in Appalachia” in the Journal of Alpine Research and “The Role of Equity Capital in Rural Communities: Wealth Creation in Rural Communities Phase I Reports” in Wealth Creation in Rural Communities, a project of the Ford Foundation. Her time working with one of the state’s premier affordable housing organizations and at VT-OED has allowed her to develop an expertise in Virginia policies, trends and regional characteristics, both attributes and challenges. This expertise will help her begin to take responsibility for the Center’s commitment to provide high-quality research and analysis for Virginia’s housing community.

Recent Publications:

Jones, Mel, Lisa Sturtevant, and Samuel Spencer. (2018) “Downtown Workforce Housing Study.” A Report by the Virginia Center for Housing Research at Virginia Tech in partnership with czb, LLC, Lisa Sturtevant and Associates, and greater Des Moines housing study trainees for Capital Crossroads, the City of Des Moines and the Polk County Housing Trust Fund. Link forthcoming.

Jones, Mel, and Samuel Spencer. (2018) “Housing Needs and Trends in Central Appalachia and Appalachian Alabama. A Report by the Virginia Center for Housing Research at Virginia Tech for Fahe.

Jones, Mel, et al. (2017) “Addressing the Impact of Housing for Virginia’s Economy” A Report by the Virginia Coalition of Housing and Economic Development Researchers for Virginia’s Housing Policy Advisory Council.

Contact information

430 Bishop-Favrao Hall
1345 Perry St
Blacksburg, VA 24061