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Charlottesville Affordable Housing Action Items

January/February 2020 

For this month, HFHGC’s Advocacy in support of our vision of a Greater Charlottesville where everyone has access to a decent place to live and in support of Cost of Home focuses on upcoming funding decisions for the Charlottesville Affordable Housing Fund, the Albemarle County’s proffer policy and a promising state initiative.  

1.      Charlottesville Affordable Housing Fund FY ‘20

a.       Background: Last year, the City’s Housing Advisory Committee recommended an allocation of $1.55M toward the Charlottesville Affordable Housing Fund (CAHF) based on estimates of projects likely to come forward. During the budgeting process, City Councilors spent considerable time discussing the need to include this funding in the Capital Improvement Program budget order to leverage and maintain additional critical housing initiatives.

Although they ultimately only included $800,000 in the CAHF, during their budget work session of March 27th, Councilors expressed a preference to allocate an additional $755,000 of the city's anticipated year-end surplus toward the CAHF. In doing so, it would equal the HAC’s recommendation of $1.55 million.

The City Manager has reported a roughly $5.8M surplus from FY ’19 and is recommending to Council that they reallocate $700K of it to the CAHF.

b.      Habitat’s Position: We appreciate the City Manager’s recommendation and encourage City Council to allocate at least $755,000 of a year-end surplus to the CAHF. Without funding in the CAHF, there would be no funding at all for affordable homeownership.

We believe fundamentally that, in order for Charlottesville to be a truly world class city, there must be affordable housing alternatives across the entire spectrum, from permanent supported housing, to affordable rentals, rehab and homeownership. Allocating a year end surplus to fund the CAHF is a critical step toward that realizing that vision.

c.       Action Needed: Please contact City Council at council@charlottesville.org, thank the City Manager for his support of affordable housing and ask Council to allocate at least $755,000 of a year-end surplus to the CAHF.

2.      Charlottesville Capital Improvement Program FY ’21

a.       Background: Last year, the City of Charlottesville provided unprecedented support for affordable housing-related activities, dedicating nearly $10M in funds in its FY ’20 Capital Improvement Program.  Although the coming Strategic Housing Plan process will help solidify funding commitments necessary to address the need identified in the 2018 Housing Needs Assessment, based on provisional estimates from the City’s Housing Advisory Committee’s Intervention Analysis Tool, the City will need to sustain this level of commitment for the next 15 years. 

The current five-year CIP draft projects only ~$30M for affordable housing.  Though the draft CIP includes laudable direct funding allocations for several critical projects: CRHA and Friendship Court redevelopment, City Housing Choice Vouchers (CSRAP), and home rehabilitation, there is insufficient or no funding for:

-          permanent supportive housing; 

-          affordable homeownership;

-          critical low-income household home repair to meet demand; and,

-          opportunistic funding for currently unidentified projects. 

Because it did not fund the CAHF at a high enough level, the Planning Commission in December declined to vote in favor of the CIP. It now goes to City Council without a favorable PC recommendation.

b.      Habitat’s Position: An increased level of investment is fundamentally necessary to foster a well-planned and healthy local housing system which includes housing opportunities for all, from renters through homeowners, providing choice and stability for low-income residents.

The community has been consistent and clear in that it wants the City to proactively and aggressively redress historic patterns of racial and economic exclusion.  Housing segregation and specific neighborhood disinvestment in Charlottesville occurred as a result of multiple (now illegal) practices some of which were matters of private sector racism – such as redlining – and some of which were results of intentionally exclusionary public policy – such as the demolition of Vinegar Hill and federal backing of home loans exclusively in whites only neighborhoods.

c.       Action Needed: Please contact City Council at council@charlottesville.org and request the following changes to the CIP:

1.      Increase the five-year projection for total funding for affordable housing to $50M, or $10M/year;

2.      Increase the amount of funding into the CAHF to $3M/year OR directly allocate funding for permanent supportive housing, housing rehabilitation and affordable homeownership.

3. Source of Income Protection

a.       Background: Currently, in Virginia, it is legal and a common practice for landlords to deny housing based on the use of a voucher. Two bills (HB6 and HB357) are currently working their way through the General Assembly to protect low-income households from housing discrimination based on the source of their income.

b.      Habitat’s Position: Protecting low income families using housing choice vouchers will allow them the opportunity to move to the neighborhood of their choice, instead of relegating them to disinvested, high-poverty, and segregated neighborhoods. Additionally, it will help increase the utilization rate of current vouchers in circulation, helping that particular policy tool become maximally effective.

c.       Action Needed: Please contact your State Delegate and Senator and ask them to support HB6 and HB357 in order to end this form of housing discrimination and bring opportunity to more Virginians. 

https://virginiageneralassembly.gov/house/members/members.php

http://apps.senate.virginia.gov/Senator/index.php

 

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