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City Council, Community Look Deeper into Affordable Housing Issues

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Many are encouraging council to consider homeownership opportunities, rather than just rentals Many are encouraging council to consider homeownership opportunities, rather than just rentals
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) -

Some members of the public are raising concerns about a recently released housing assessment for Charlottesville.

The report was presented at the City Council meeting on Monday, June 18.

Many people are encouraging councilors to look toward more homeownership, rather than rentals.

The 114-page report shows that the city needs at least at least 3,300 additional affordable rental units, but some people don't want council to just focus on creating more rental homes.

The housing needs assessment shows a person pays an average of almost $1,400 a month to live in Charlottesville.

“We need housing solutions that meet all needs, we need deeply affordable rentals, homeownership preservation and repair, badly needed rehab of public housing units,” says Annie Stup, who lives in Charlottesville.

Crunching the numbers, the assessment shows that one person working a minimum wage job would have to work 147 hours per week in order to make ends meet.

“That leaves a paltry three hours a day for the rest of life,” says Emily Dreyfus, who spoke at the council meeting.

At Monday evening’s meeting when the report was presented, many attendees encouraged councilors to read it carefully.

"While it's a very good starting point and contains a lot of fantastic research, it might lead the city to developing rentals such as through tax credits, which have only 15-year affordability periods,” says Stup. “This is really short-sighted, and it perpetuates the racial wealth gap that exists here in Charlottesville."

Others, like Sheron Sinclair, shared their own personal stories about going through the Habitat for Humanity homeownership program.

“Habitat was the only way that I was going to give my family the stability and security of a permanent home,” says Sinclair.

She, like others, pushed councilors to strongly consider doing more than just building rentals.

"It’s not just a roof, it's about equity and a future and stability and allowing people to get into the game and become part of the American middle class or even above that," says Dan Rosensweig of Habitat for Humanity.

"Give a man an affordable rental, he will have a roof over his head,” says Sinclair. “Walk a man through homeownership, and they will forever have a place to call home."

The assessment shows there are around 1,600 names on the waiting list for either public housing or federal housing choice vouchers.

City Council’s process of developing a housing strategy will take around one year.

Mayor Nikuyah Walker says this topic is going to require serious discussion.

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