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Charlottesville Affordable Housing Action Items

1. City Housing Strategy:

  • Background: Currently, Charlottesville City staff is working on drafting a housing strategy to present to City Council on November 20th.
  • Habitat’s position:
    • We support the development of a comprehensive housing strategy.
    • We strongly believe that it will be more successful if…
      •   It is generated as a result of a meaningful community process and not by government officials working on their own. 
      •   It is an outgrowth of a “listening process” by which residents in need of better housing are engaged as “experts” in the process of understanding the real barriers to affordable housing in the community.
      •   It is voted on by the City Council-appointed Housing Advisory Committee (HAC) and presented to Council by the HAC.
      •   It is regional in scope and involves public/private partnerships as well as significant policy incentives for market provision of affordable housing.
      • It has affordable homeownership as a key componentt
  • Action Needed: Please contact City Council at council@charlottesville.org to ask them to direct staff according to the priorities listed above.

2. Consolidated Plan:

  • Background: The City of Charlottesville and the HOME Consortium is updating its five-year Consolidated Plan and Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice. This plan sets funding priorities for HUD as it appropriates money to municipalities.
  • Habitat’s position:
    • We believe that the City of Charlottesville and HOME Consortium’s updated Consolidated Plan should include affordable homeownership as a key component.
  • Action Needed: Contact City Grants Coordinator Tierra Howard at howardti@charlottesville.org to advocate for the inclusion of affordable homeownership as a key component of the updated Consolidated Plan.

3.      Landlord Risk Reduction Program

  • Background: As part of a set of comprehensive recommendations to Council, the Housing Advisory Committee recommended establishment of a Landlord Risk Reduction Program that backstops potential damage to a rental unit by a low-income voucher holder in exchange for a deed-restriction that keeps the unit affordable for a specified period of time. The availability of a fund like this in other municipalities has generated momentum toward landlord’s increased acceptance of rental assistance vouchers.
  • Habitat’s position:
    • Habitat supports the creation of this fund.
    • For it to be effective, we believe it needs to provide funding to assist with a low-income renter’s security deposit as well. Statistics tend to show that the inability to cover first month’s rent AND a security deposit is a primary factor keeping people homeless or unable to rent a suitable unit.
  • Action Needed: Contact City Council at  council@charlottesville.org and let them know that you support a Landlord Risk Reduction Program INCLUSIVE of  assistance with security deposits for low-income renters

4.      Waiver of fees for affordable housing:

  • Background:  In a recent recommendation to Council, the Housing Advisory Committee recommended waiving all fees in conjunction with any applications for proposals with on-site affordable housing. In following up, staff recommended including only site plan and subdivision submission fees, leaving a host of waivable fees that could make the provision of affordable housing more economically viable.
  • Habitat’s Position:
    • We believe that this is a good initiative and that waiving all allowable fees could incentivize the provision of affordable housing by market entities.
  • Action Needed: Contact City Council at council@charlottesville.org and ask them to direct staff to waive all allowable fees related to applications that include a minimum of 15% on site affordable housing.

5.      Charlottesville Affordable Housing Fund Administrative and Funding procedures:

  • Background: Charlottesville Department of Neighborhood Development staff recently notified City Council that it had changed its policy and eliminated up front and lump sum funding for Council-funded housing initiatives.
    • This strict reimbursement model could hamstring organizations which compete for resources when time is of the essence. This administrative delay in funding could jeopardize affordable housing providers’ ability to act swiftly when purchasing property, allocating grant funding to recipients and responding to emergent challenges and opportunities.
  • Habitat’s position:
    • We believe that CAHF funding should be allowed to be allocated in lump sum payments.
  • Action Needed: Contact City Manager Maurice Jones at CityMan@charlottesville.org and City Council at council@charlottesville.org and ask them to direct staff to restore the possibility of lump sum payments to City grant recipients.

6.      Habitat National Advocacy Priorities:

  • Background: Habitat for Humanity International every year produces an advocacy agenda to support federal initiatives that will result in more and better affordable housing. This year’s initiatives include continued funding for the Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program and for national service programs like Americorps. These initiatives help Habitat leverage significant resources for homebuilding here in Charlottesville and across the nation.
  • Habitat’s Position:
    • Habitat supports the national advocacy agenda.
  • Action Needed: Follow this link to access information about the national advocacy agenda and to see how you can make your voice heard.

 

 

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: 10/27/17