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Charlottesville Affordable Housing Action Items

July/August 2021 Advocacy Agenda

For this month, HFHGC’s Advocacy in service to our vision of a Greater Charlottesville where everyone has access to a decent place to live includes support for a City-wide affordable housing overlay, support for future phases of Southwood redevelopment and support for a Louisa County/Habitat partnership at Ferncliff.   

1.      City of Charlottesville Comprehensive Plan/Future Land Use Map/Affordable Housing Overlay Framework

Background: The consultants hired by the City to update its housing policy, comprehensive plan and zoning code have produced a draft future land use map involving a significant city wide up-zoning. As predicted, now that the draft map is out, things have gotten very contentious.  To try to bring the community together, we are supporting a new framework for the Future Land Use map that calls for a city-wide affordable housing overlay that protects historically low-income neighborhoods from gentrification while providing additional density and other zoning allowances city wide in exchange for providing affordable housing.

Habitat’s Position: We appreciate the Charlottesville community’s current focus on updating the Future Land Use Map in the Comprehensive Plan. We have heard concerns about gentrification pressure from residents of historically low-income neighborhoods and concerns from residents of wealthier neighborhoods that the latest proposed Future Land Use Map would set the stage for “density for density’s sake” without appreciably addressing the affordable housing crisis in our community.

Consistent among every group we’ve talked with has been the conviction that, to realize a more equitable Charlottesville, the Future Land Use Map must become a tool that creates conditions for addition of affordable housing in every neighborhood, particularly in the neighborhoods which have – due to deed restrictions, redlining and zoning, etc.  – been exclusive. 

We therefore support the framework for modifying the current draft of the Future Land Use Map which reviewed by the Planning Commission on July 13th, 2021. The proposed framework would:

·         Maintain the current base zoning in historically low-income communities, and;

·         Make all other traditionally low intensity residential areas “General Residential,” and;

·         Overlay all zoning districts with an affordable housing overlay

We believe that this framework addresses concerns from residents of low income and upper income neighborhoods alike and creates the conditions by which the community can redraw the zoning map to enable “all kinds of housing in all kinds of places for all kinds of people.”

Action Needed: Please contact City Council at council@charlottesville.org and the City Planning Commission at planningcommission@chartlottesville.org and tell them that you support the framework for modifying the current draft of the Future Land Use Map which was reviewed by the Planning Commission on June 16th, 2021.

2.      Continued Support for Southwood

Background: Habitat and the County are working together on a redevelopment project at Southwood of considerable community value and national importance. This $250M project will result in as many as 750 affordable homes without any resident displacement. The County has made a financial commitment to the first phase of development. However, for Southwood to be successful in leveraging outside and market funds, the County will need to memorialize its intent to commit to a similar level of investment throughout the project.

Habitat’s Position: Habitat appreciates the County looking to address its affordable housing deficit holistically. However, we are concerned about perceived “Southwood Fatigue” on the part of key public officials.

The first phase of Southwood redevelopment was intentionally designed as a pilot project or a “model village,” to demonstrate what is possible at Southwood and to inspire future cohorts – “next adopters” – to participate in the planning process as robustly as have the “Early Adopters.

Phase I, when complete, will comprise roughly 25% of the total Southwood land mass and will rehouse roughly 25% of current residents. It will add more than 200 new affordable units to the local inventory. Future phases, currently in the rezoning stage, are key to rehousing the remaining 75% of current residents and to adding significantly to the local affordable housing stock.

The County has supported phase I with staff and financial support, all of which was stimulated by a Board of Supervisors resolution naming Southwood redevelopment as a priority project. We believe that the current Board of Supervisors should pass an updated resolution signaling an intent to continue to support future phases of redevelopment.

Action Needed: Please contact members of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors at bos@albemarle.org and

1.      Thank them for supporting phase I of the Southwood Redevelopment

2.      Remind them the phase I will be about 25% of the overall project

3.      Request that they consider an updated resolution or some official affirmation that prioritizes future phases of Southwood for support

3.      Rezoning of Ferncliff Place in Louisa County

Background: Habitat has been working in partnership with Louisa County officials on a mixed-income, mixed use project on County owned land in the Ferncliff area of Louisa County. The project would provide 25 affordable homeownership opportunities, approximately 50 entry level market rate homeowner opportunities, a community center and an early childhood education center accessible to low- and moderate-income families. Habitat has a pending rezoning application in front of the County. Two neighbors of the property have been organizing against it and have begun a letter writing campaign to the local newspaper that, in our opinion, is spreading misinformation about the project.  

Habitat’s Position: We appreciate the partnership with the Louisa County government. Affordable housing, in mixed-income settings, is badly needed in Louisa. The Louisa County Comprehensive Plan specifically identifies the area of this parcel for this kind of development given that workforce housing is desperately needed to support businesses in nearby Zion’s Crossroads and in the adjacent Louisa County Business Park. Additionally, all development will be subject to stringent environmental regulations in Louisa County and via rules of the state Department of Environmental Quality.

We believe that letters to the editor from the neighbors – including misinformation about the number of units being built, about the impact on the environment and about plans to “import” poverty from Albemarle and Charlottesville – is misleading and should be countered with accurate information:

1.      This proposal is entirely consistent with the Louisa County Comprehensive Plan.

2.      Habitat will work with families and partners in Louisa to identify hard-working partner families for homes at Ferncliff.

3.      In developing the property, Habitat – as it has done in each of the nine mixed income communities it has built or worked in – will follow the most stringent environmental protection measures available. 

Action Needed: Please contact members of the Louisa County Board of Supervisors (addresses can be found at https://www.louisacounty.com/462/Board-of-Supervisors ) and ask them to support the partnership with Habitat to product affordable and workforce housing plus badly needed early childhood education at Ferncliff.  Remind them that:

I.        This proposal is entirely consistent with the Louisa County Comprehensive Plan.

II.     Habitat will work with families and partners in Louisa to identify hard-working partner families for homes at Ferncliff.

III.  In developing the property, Habitat – as it has done in each of the nine mixed income communities it has built or worked in – will follow the most stringent environmental protection measures available. 

Also, please consider writing a letter to the editor of the Central Virginian newspaper at https://www.thecentralvirginian.com/opinion/ in support of the Louisa County/Habitat partnership.

 

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: 7/27/2021

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