Habitat for Humanity working to prevent displacement during Southwood Community project

Published: Oct. 29, 2021 at 7:29 PM EDT
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ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - A major redevelopment project in Albemarle County is underway. As Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville’s Southwood community project continues, the nonprofit is working to make sure people who already live there are not without a home during the redevelopment process.

“We believe it’s important for residents to have more than just a say. We want them to be the architects and engineers of their own future. Because, you know what, they’re the experts of their neighborhood,” Dan Rosensweig, the president and CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville, said.

The neighborhood is in the beginning stages of construction. As the redevelopment process begins, Habitat is trying not to displace those who live there currently.

“The idea of trying to temporarily move people offsite and then move them back on, first of all it’s very disruptive for families, it’s very disruptive for children in schools. And, history shows that people don’t move back,” Rosensweig said. “Plus, let’s face facts. There’s no affordable housing in the area, so there’s no place to move them.”

The project is starting by developing on a site with no homes, taking planning ideas from residents themselves. The first village has 49 Habitat homes and a mixture of rentals. Much of them, Rosensweig said, are cheaper than current homes in the community.

“What we’ll do is do one section, move people, do another section, move people, and when that section is clear, we’ll start building there,” he said.

Next Friday, the Southwood Community Center will open up its showroom for new homes and talk to community organizers about what they want to see in the future.

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