Public Housing Redevelopment Study Underway in Charlottesville
Upgrades could soon be on the way for several Charlottesville public housing units. A six-month study just got underway to better understand where those changes need to take place.
Charlottesville City Council hired a team of architects to take a look at the neighborhood areas between Avon Street and Ridge-McIntire.
Several public housing units are up for redevelopment.
"The buildings are crumbling, the pipes are crumbling, the air quality is bad," said Brandon Collins, organizer at the Charlottesville Public Housing Association of Residents, about the condition of the public housing units.
The First Street South and Sixth Street public housing units are all south of downtown Charlottesville.
Charlottesville City Council member Dede Smith says a mixed-use redevelopment is one option for the properties.
"A mixed-use redevelopment would enhance everybody's opportunities for employment as well as an opportunity to upgrade the residential component to mix it in with a commercial component," she said.
Collins says although the public housing units south of downtown need to be redeveloped, mixed-use is not the answer.
"The community is very worried about the concept of mixed-income housing and what that means for their community," he said. "They want to keep their community together; they want it to look the same as it has."
Whether the units are redeveloped as mixed-income housing or not, Collins says improved housing should be the number one priority. He says many of the public housing units don't have central air conditioning.
Collins also says this forces people to use window air conditioning units - what he says is a major safety concern.
"That's actually in violation of some HUD (Housing and Urban Development) regulations as far as, what if there's a fire and you've got an air conditioning unit in your window?," he said.
The team of architects - based in Washington - will return to Charlottesville in March. The group will put together three different options for redevelopment.
Smith says throughout the process there will be plenty of opportunities for public input.
CLARIFICATION: Friendship Court, a low-cost apartment complex owned by the Piedmont Housing Alliance, is not part of this study, as originally reported.