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Charlottesville’s Sixth Street, Westhaven next public housing units to be renovated

Updated: May. 24, 2021 at 9:50 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Two more public housing sites in Charlottesville are officially in the beginning stages of renovations, but they won’t be the only two in the works.

As Crescent Halls and South First Street units undergo major renovations, the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority wanted to work on what’s next. That means projects at Westhaven and Sixth Street.

The largest public housing site in Charlottesville is now one of the next to get some upgrades. On Monday night, the CRHA approved a resolution that recommends the “immediate resident engagement” of both the Westhaven and Sixth Street communities.

“By having them give us their thoughts, their values, their expertise, the project will be so much better and it will fit their needs,” said Betsy Roettger, the chair of the CRHA.

Roettger says it’s critical to engage the residents, saying: “It’s not an easy process, the [construction] is loud, and noisy, and messy, and so it’s really great to see residents be excited about it.”

The plan is still in the earliest stages. CRHA hopes to apply for tax credits for Sixth Street in March of 2022, while Westhaven’s application may be years later (perhaps 2024, Roettger said). That’s because there’s a vacant lot at Sixth Street, which Roettger calls “our greatest asset.” It can provide a place for people to move as renovation and development progress.

“We want to make sure that in this community that we know people can’t afford that there’s somewhere for them to be while the units are being developed,” said Mayor Nikuyah Walker.

Joy Johnson, a founder of the city’s Public Housing Association of Residents, echoed her thoughts. She also said it’s important to manage occupied apartments while changes are in the works.

“Folks are just waiting to hear when it’s their turn,” she said. “What are you going to do in the meantime to fix up, temporarily, fix up what they’re living in?”

The end goal is still years away, but Roettger says in 10 or 15 years she wants to see new, renovated, great housing units with community centers for youth and thriving communities in the city.

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