IMPACT calls on Charlottesville City Council to advance affordable housing policy

IMPACT calls on Charlottesville City Council to advance affordable housing policy

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - A number of religious communities are coming together, on Zoom, to push for change.

Affordable housing is atop the list of policy priorities for IMPACT. It’s a group united, not in religious beliefs or even political stances, but in the impact of justice-based advocacy.

“We heard lots of stories from people struggling to maintain safe and affordable housing from people who belong to our faith congregations,” said Vikki Bravo, the co-chair of IMPACT’s Affordable Housing Committee.

The organization is asking the city of Charlottesville to allocate $3 million to the Charlottesville Affordable Housing Fund (CAHF) in the upcoming budget and designate income sources for the fund. In the draft of the FY22 budget, the city is allocating just under $1 million to CAHF.

“If they would find the designated revenue sources, there would be a stream of money that people could count on,” Bravo said.

During a Zoom meeting on Tuesday evening, IMPACT asked three city councilors for their commitments.

“Will you push for the annual allocation of 3 million dollars to the CAHF starting in fiscal year 2022?” asked Sheila Herlihy, the coordinator of justice and charity at the Church of the Incarnation.

“I will push continuously to get up to that at some point. I cannot promise to push for it for just next year,” said Councilor Sena Magill.

Fellow Councilor Michael Payne said: “Yes, I mean, absolutely, I think it’s a goal and commitment we have to work towards.”

Heather Hill, a third councilor, said, “I cannot in fiscal year 2022, but I certainly am committed to us pushing toward those goals.”

The councilors pointed out that the governing body is committed to affordable housing policies, but pandemic-related economic hardships do play a role.

“Please remember, when we do bring up the idea of raising taxes at some point, it’s going to go for things like this, and that’s when we’re going to need people’s help,” Magill said.

Looking ahead, IMPACT is already working on its next advocacy topic: providing after-school care for preschoolers in both the city and Albemarle County.

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