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Charlottesville Affordable Housing Action Items

August/September 2018 

1.   Funding for Affordable Homeownership

a.    Background: The Charlottesville Housing Advisory Committee subcommittee on allocations has recommended funding a variety of initiatives out of the FY ’19 Affordable Housing Fund. Among the recommendations are $585K to support three Habitat initiatives:

  1. Lot acquisition to build 16 homes in mixed-income communities.
  2. Anti-gentrification pilot initiative to purchase a rental home, rehab it and sell it affordably to its tenant.
  3. Downpayment assistance to support homeownership for residents at 35% of area median income or less. 

b.    Habitat’s Position: Although we weren’t recommended for 100% of our funding requests, we believe that the HAC recommendation is fair and provides funds for multiple key initiatives including rehab, homeownership and affordable rental housing. We are therefore supportive of the HAC’s recommendation. 

c.    Action Needed: Please contact City Council at council@charlottesville.org and ask them to vote for HAC’s recommendation for Charlottesville Affordable Housing Funding at their August 20th City Council meeting. Housing funds should provide opportunities at multiple rungs of the local housing ladder and the committee did a solid job of considering proposals that provide those opportunities. 

2.    Comprehensive Affordable Housing Strategy

a.    Background: City Councilor Kathy Galvin has drafted a comprehensive plan to address the local crisis. At a joint meeting of City Council and the Housing Advisory Committee on August 30th, the two bodies will discuss this draft. 

b.    Habitat’s Position: We are pleased that Councilor Galvin has taken the initiative to put forward a proposal. Several items need to be stressed:

  1. The recent housing needs assessment is quantitative only. To truly identify the need it needs to: Account for qualitative sub components of the need, such as affordable homeownership, rehab and homeless services.
  2. The final strategy needs to be a product of a listening process with local, low-wealth individuals. 
  3. The final strategy needs to be matched with adequate resources for implementation.

c.    Action Needed: Please contact the Housing Advisory Committee at HousingAdvisoryCommittee@charlottesville.org, and City Council at council@charlottesville.org. Please thank Councilor Galvin for initiating the conversation and request that the two bodies:

  1. Include homeownership, rehab and homeless services in an augmented needs assessment.
  2. Create a housing strategy that is a product of a listening approach with the community’s “experts” on housing need – those who currently can’t afford simple, decent, housing. 
  3. Commit to adequate resources to implement the eventual strategy.

3.    City of Charlottesville Neighborhood Development Services Review

a.    Background: On February 9th, the City of Charlottesville released a consultant’s report evaluating the performance of the City’s Planning Department. The report can be found here.  

b.    Habitat’s Position: We believe that the City will maximize its return on investment in affordable housing when all of its departments operate at peak efficiency. As such, we encourage City Council to carefully consider the consultants’ report and evaluate NDS fairly and critically with the end goal of improving the application review process and, in particular, expediting it significantly for affordable housing. 

c.    Action Needed: Contact City Council at council@charlottesville.org and let them know that you support:

  1. Immediately addressing the challenges to efficient operations identified in the Neighborhood Development Services Review Report from February 9th, 2018.
  2. Prioritizing a search for a City Manager with extensive experience overseeing improvements to the urban built environment and who has significant Executive experience.
  3. Collecting performance measurement benchmarks from other –particularly higher performing – municipalities and setting goals for review time, affordable housing provision, etc. based on best practices.
  4. Performing an audit of cost overruns related to the City review process for all projects including affordable housing.

4.    Southwood Rezoning

a.    Background: Habitat has been working for ten years at the Southwood Mobile Home Park to make upgrades to health and safety, to build trust with residents and to help them gain the capacity to be equal partners at the table. As a result, Southwood “Early Adopters” have worked with professional planners, architects, engineers and Habitat and County staff to create a rezoning application for phase I of redevelopment. This application will be subject to a Planning Commission public hearing in October. 

b.    Habitat’s Position: We are honored to work side-by-side with residents and believe that their proposal will create outstanding neighborhoods and public spaces. It is a first of its kind resident-designed application that will have reverberations nationally.

c.    Action Needed: Please contact the Albemarle County Planning Commission at PlanningCommission@albemarle.org and the Board of Supervisors at bos@albemarle.org.  Thank them for the County’s support thus far and urge them to approve the Southwood resident-directed rezoning application. This first of its kind endeavor truly puts the residents at the center, provides flexibility for future cohorts of “early adopters” to design outstanding new neighborhoods and creates a template for the County for how to truly engage existing residents as it invests in upgrades to existing suburban infrastructure. 

5.    Senate Tax Force on Affordable Housing

a.    Background: On July 18, Senator Todd Young of Indiana introduced SB 3231, the Task Force on the Impact of the Affordable Housing Crisis Act. In addition to Young, the bill currently has 10 co-sponsors in the Senate: Maria Cantwell of Washington, Angus King of Maine, Dean Heller of Nevada, Tim Kaine of Virginia, Doug Jones of Alabama, Cory Gardner or Colorado, Marco Rubio of Florida, Christopher Coons of Delaware, John Kennedy of Louisiana, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

b.    Habitat’s Position: We believe the task force would strive to find federal solutions to the affordable housing crisis and thus help Habitat increase access to safe, decent and affordable homes.

c.    Action Needed:

  1. Call both of your senators. Tell co-sponsors how much we appreciate their prioritization for affordable housing and that Habitat wants to partner in that effort. Urge other senators to support SB 3231. Look up senator numbers.
  2. Share your appreciation and support for the creation of the task force on Twitter. Feel free to use this sample tweet.
  3. Learn more about SB 3231 by emailing advocacy@habitat.org.   

 

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: 8/30/18