Affordable Housing Summit Addresses Charlottesville's Affordable Housing Needs

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Developers discussed how to improve affordable housing on April 13 Developers discussed how to improve affordable housing on April 13
Charlottesville affordable housing units Charlottesville affordable housing units

Experts on design and construction came together on Friday, April 13,to find ways to address Charlottesville's affordable housing needs.

The affordable housing summit was part of the Tom Tom Founders Festival.

Developers say building affordable housing units actually costs the same or more than building market-rate housing because most of the undeveloped lots in the city have some sort of issue.

"It’s not just about building housing units, it’s about building healthy neighborhoods," says Charlottesville City Councilor Kathy Galvin.

Galvin, who was also a panelist for the affordable housing summit, says creating affordable housing isn't just about building lower-cost units.

"It starts off by thinking what do we as human beings need, what do children need to thrive,” says Galvin. “They need a place where they can play, where they feel safe. They need a place where they can see their parents succeed.”

She argues that ensuring people who live in the units have access to what they need is the first step toward helping these families thrive.

"We do have a limited supply of land,” says Galvin. “The challenge we have is that we have to repurpose a lot of that land.”

Galvin says the city has designated approximately 12 areas for affordable housing units, which include old gas stations and asphalt parking lots that need creative reimagining.

"These areas are underutilized, they're untapped gold mines, if you will, to supply our affordable housing within the context of a healthy, safe, equitable, and sustainable neighborhood,” says Galvin.

City Councilor Wes Bellamy says Charlottesville also needs to get creative in figuring out how to fund affordable units.

"Let’s look at how we can maybe use some of our tax revenue to be able to build,” says Bellamy. “Let’s look at and get ideas from CRHA, from PHA, from the residents themselves, but let’s think bigger, let’s think broader if that means getting a bond floating a bond for development, then let’s do it."

Bellamy says it's important to educate the community, and make sure the people who need this housing can attend discussions like this one.

"We have to look at different ways in which we can have these discussions where the people who are actually affecting can indeed partake,” says Bellamy.

City Council will get the results of the affordable housing action plan next month.

Councilors say they want to make sure the people living in affordable housing are involved in these discussions. They promise to ensure their voices are heard before any decisions are made.

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