Democratic Council Candidates Address CRHA Issues

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Charlottesville City Council hopefuls have been taking up issues specific to neighborhoods around the city.

Thursday night, just weeks before the primary election, five candidates vying for two open council seats discussed some hot-button issues.

Council hopefuls have been taking up issues specific to neighborhoods around the city. One issue that has been surrounded by controversy is the state of the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority. The candidates addressed the shaky relationship between the CRHA and those who live in public housing.

How would the candidates approach the situation if elected?

Candidate Adam Lees said, "One of the first steps in finding a dignified solution for homelessness is to make sure we don't have an authority evicting people and sending them into homelessness to begin with."

Some say there is a major disconnect within the organization and the mission of public housing has become lost in the mix.

"Public housing is supposed to be a starting place that hopefully, if you get a good-quality job here, you can get better housing as well and that hasn't happened," said candidate Melvin Grady.

One council hopeful says a fresh start is needed.

"I think what first and foremost needs to happen and what I would do if I were elected would be for council to take over the board because I think that direction needs to come from us," said candidate Wes Bellamy.

Others believe working on the lack of respect is the route to take.

"What I think is really important is having an open-door policy: listening respectfully, being available to people," said candidate Kristin Szakos.

Candidate Bob Fenwick said, "It's the way you go about it; a little piece here and a little piece there and make sure particularly for an elderly person who's been evicted from her house there are ways to go about this that treat people humanely."

Candidates also discussed education, workforce development and even their vision of the city in 50 years.

The primary election is on June 11.

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