How to Help

Advocate

Charlottesville Affordable Housing Action Items

January/February 2019 

1.   Comprehensive City Funding Strategy/CIP

a.    Background: In the wake of a study showing a deficit of 4,000 units of affordable housing in the City, the Charlottesville City Council has recently begun considering funding plans and individual proposals to address the crisis. However, in January, the Charlottesville Planning Commission voted on a staff-developed draft Capital Improvement Program Budget which zeroed out funding for all but four housing initiatives over the next five years: CRHA redevelopment, Friendship Court Redevelopment, Rental Housing Vouchers and rehabs. The PC  amended that draft in their recommendation and asked Council to include $1M into the Charlottesville Affordable Housing Fund to support other key initiatives.

b.    Habitat’s Position: To truly meet the need to create a sustainable, healthy housing ladder of opportunity for all, the City needs to fund holistically and strategically rather than piecemeal. While we very much appreciate City staff allocating and/or forecasting $32M for housing initiatives in the five year CIP and support those initiatives, we believe that funding must be tied to a strategic plan and should include opportunities at every rung of the ladder. If it doesn’t, housing becomes a dead end. 

c.    Action Needed: Please contact City Council at Council@charlottesville.org, and interim City Manager Mike Murphy at murphym@charlottesville.org to request that they work with the Housing Advisory Committee to develop a holistic funding strategy for eliminating the 4,000 unit gap in the City. Also, please ask them to restore $1.55M into the Charlottesville Affordable Housing Fund this fiscal year to support a wider range of housing alternatives, including opportunities for affordable homeownership. The Charlottesville Albemarle Affordable Housing Coalition has estimated that $1.55M will be sufficient this year to maintain existing, effective programs and construction activities. 

2.    Enhanced Down Payment Assistance: CDBG

a.    Background: The recent housing needs assessment in the City identified residents at or below 30% of area median income as the most vulnerable and in need of housing. As such, Habitat has been working to better serve families at the lower end of its income scale. As part of its budget building process, City Council allocates Federal Funding through the Community Development Block Grant program. One use of that funding is down payment assistance for first time, low-income homebuyers.

b.    Habitat’s Position: Habitat is grateful to Council for focusing on the needs of the area’s most vulnerable population and for supporting our efforts to “reach deeper.” We would like to see Council allocate as much of the CDBG allotment as possible to down payment assistance. Homeownership is this country’s best way to help elevate families out of poverty.

c.    Action Needed: Please take a few moments to send an email to City Council at Council@Charlottesville.org and request that they allocate as much CDBG funding to down payment assistance as possible. Affordable homeownership is this country’s best hand up out of poverty.

3.    City Standards and Design Manual Update

a.    Background: The City of Charlottesville has been undertaking a process to update its outdated Standards and Design Manual. The SADM sets the regulations that guide the shape of development of our streets, sidewalks, lots, utilities, etc. and is a critical component in enabling or, conversely, discouraging creative urban design. City Council recently declined to vote to adopt City staff’s recommended update, stating that there was a significant disconnect between the community’s vision of safe, walkable streets and affordable housing and the dimensional requirements in the draft manual. They sent it back for further outreach and work.

b.    Habitat’s Position: We agree with Council and the Charlottesville Area Affordable Housing Coalition that the draft manual does not reflect community values. In particular…

The SADM adds unnecessary expense to the cost of construction, which disadvantages affordable housing. See proposed revisions to Sections 4.3.3.3 (pavement sections), 9.4.1 (materials), and Table 4-2 (street elements).

The SADM discourages efficient use of tight urban lots. See proposed revisions to Sections 9.6.3 (general requirements, private utilities), 9.8 (utility easements) and Table 9-4 (utility easements), 4.3.2.1.6 (ROW width), 4.3.2.1.8 (clear zones), 4.4 (alleys), and 9.2.2 (depth of utility cover).

c.    Action Needed: Please contact members of City Council and the Planning Commission at Council@charlottesville.org and PlanningCommission@charlottesville.org.

Let them know that the draft SADM needs significant work, specifically in the areas referenced above. Ask both bodies to work with the Charlottesville Area Developers Roundtable (CADRe) and the Place Design Task Force (PLACE) to produce a more appropriate set of regulations for attractive, affordable housing and communities.   


4.    Southwood Rezoning

a.    Background: Habitat is in the middle of an unprecedented, resident-led redevelopment process at the Southwood Mobile Home Park. Since 2007, we’ve been working with residents to bolster community capacity to be equal partners at the table. This month, Habitat and the residents plan submitted an updated rezoning application for phase I of the project. It is anticipated that the plan will go in front the Planning Commission during the first week of March.

b.    Habitat’s Position: Habitat has been awed by the great work of the residents to define their own future. We are also grateful to the County for being partners in our work.

c.    Action Needed: Please contact the Albemarle Board of Supervisors and Planning Commissions at bos@albemarle.org and PlanningCommission@albemarle.org.  Thank them for providing the resources to allow Habitat to work side by side with Southwood residents to plan their own future. This one of a kind project will be a national model for how to do redevelopment equitably and sustainably. Ask them to vote "yes" to the Southwood rezoning application. 

This page will be updated on a monthly basis with new action items for people looking to advocate for affordable housing solutions in the greater Charlottesville area.

Last update: 1/28/19