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Charlottesville reviews Affordable Housing Plan draft as part of “Cville Plans Together” initiative

Updated: Nov. 4, 2020 at 6:36 PM EST
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Members of Charlottesville’s Housing Advisory Committee met Wednesday to review a draft Affordable Housing Plan as part of the city’s Cville Plans Together initiative.

The draft of the Affordable Housing Plan includes recommendations on how to overcome racial disparities in housing in Charlottesville. Some committee members say, however, the plan lacks focus on home ownership and creating generational wealth.

“This affordable housing plan really makes it seems like low incomeness [sic] is really a constant that needs to be worked around, rather than a variable that could be changed," said committee member Ridge Schuyler.

The 133-page draft includes several major recommendations to the city, with one being the dedication of $10 million to serve roughly 4,000 households over 10 years.

The recommendation calls for $1 million of that funding to the new affordable housing administration, which some said should not be part of the capital fund.

“We need to have an increased staff capacity at the city level focused around affordable housing, so I don’t want our comments to come across that we aren’t supporting that aspect of the recommendation, but not that it comes out of this dollar amount," said Sunshine Mathon, another member of the committee.

Recommendations also include targeting funding toward extremely low-income households, which members like Dan Rosenweig said should be expanded.

“It implies that the only people we should be targeting home ownership to are people above 40% of the area median income and I strongly object to that. We serve people at 25% above area median income, we actually bring people into the program at 15% of area median income and then work with them to get their incomes up to 25 to 30%," Rosenweig said.

Other recommendations included rent control, creating more multi-family housing units, and enhancing tenants' rights.

But for members S. Lisa Herndon and Schuyler, the draft lacks focus on home ownership and income gains that could create lasting change.

“Equity is gained and proper representation is gained when families are not just set in one location simply because of the cost of a house. We need to be more creative in our ideas about how those families have getting there,” Herndon said.

“I just think it is a huge missed opportunity not to think about helping people move up the income ladders as part and parcel of a housing strategy," said Schuyler.

The newly drafted plan is set to be presented at the next work session on November 10.

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