CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Affordable housing has emerged as one of the top priorities in central Virginia.

On Friday, April 19, the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission (TJPDC) hosted a regional summit to come up with ways to solve the problem.

Elected officials and leaders from all across Virginia and other states came together for the summit at the Omni Hotel.

This event gives them the chance to discuss ways to open the door to housing opportunities.

"Right now, the first step is to get the data,” Chip Boyles of the TJPDC said. “Once we have the data, then we can begin working with each of the local jurisdictions on what strategies."

Better housing in central Virginia starts with a comprehensive housing report completed by the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission.

"One of the numbers is regionally an excess of 10,000 people are spending more than 50% of their income on housing costs," Boyles said.

Another factor contributing to the problem is transportation.

“The other percentage that we found in the report that was quite startling is when you add transportation cost - a lot of people in our region drive a good distance to work every day," Boyles said.

This year, the city of Charlottesville is dedicating more money to create more affordable units for those in need.

"Through our budget, we have allocated $10.5 million toward affordable housing initiatives - whether it's through supporting the LiveTech application for both our public housing initiatives as well as those for the Friendship Court redevelopment," Charlottesville Vice Mayor Heather Hill said.

For some families, percentages of income being devoted to housing and transportation are even higher, which makes living harder.

“It peaks for some families - it’s 78% of their monthly income goes to housing and transportation costs,” Boyles said. “That doesn't leave a lot of money for things like insurance, health care, food, the necessities."

Currently, two strategies are on the table to make housing more affordable.

"If you increase a person's income, then you make their housing more affordable," Boyles said. “Another recommended strategy that people have discussed is - but hasn't been decided on - is a one-stop type of information center where anybody who has housing needs can make one call and get assistance."

Organizers say that events like this one at the Omni will help bring new perspectives on the issue.

And, if you would like to read the full report, click here.