Three Democratic City Council Candidates Discuss Affordable Housing

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The three Democratic candidates running for a seat on Charlottesville City Council took part in a debate Tuesday The three Democratic candidates running for a seat on Charlottesville City Council took part in a debate Tuesday
Bob Fenwick Bob Fenwick
Amy Laufer Amy Laufer
Heather Hill Heather Hill

Three Democratic candidates for Charlottesville City Council made their case for why voters should elect them. Two of the three will make it through June's primary to face off against a few independent candidates come November.

Tuesday’s forum was much like one last week, focusing especially on affordable housing and the city's public housing infrastructure.

Speaking at The Haven, a homeless day shelter in Charlottesville, three candidates for city council focused on affordable housing.

Current Charlottesville City Council member Bob Fenwick told the crowd that when he and his wife first moved to Charlottesville, they could not afford a house in the city and had to move to Earlysville.

“Everybody talks about affordable housing, but what we're really talking about is unaffordable housing,” Fenwick said. “So this has been around awhile. We're still trying to make sure we have people, quality living arrangements for people in town - firemen, teachers, people who live on the Downtown Mall.”

Right now new developers in the city can choose whether to build affordable units or contribute money to a city fund for affordable housing.

Amy Laufer says the city should try to incentivize developers to make that decision.

“They should build the units and not put the money into the fund,” Laufer said. “I appreciate the fund but I know that we're at a deficit of 8000 units and the fund at $3.2 million is $400 per home and that's really… that won't bridge the gap.”

Heather Hill agreed but noted that the city can't force developers to build affordable units.

“I think we need to find more incentives in place so they find a reason to fund the housing,” Hill said. 
It's really not in our purview to be able to direct them to be able to go into that direction or the other.”

The next city council forum will be for the independent candidates. It is scheduled for Wednesday, May 17.

In terms of campaign fundraising, one of the Democratic candidates is vastly out-fundraising her opponents.

Hill has raised a little more than $12,000, according to the Virginia Public Access Project. 

Fenwick, the incumbent, has raised just over $2,000.

Laufer has raised over $11,000.

As for the independent candidates, - Nikuyah Walker, Dale Woodson, and Nancy Carpenter - none of them raised more than $500.

Those numbers are as of March 31.

Paul Long was not included on the project's list at this point.

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