Below you will find various resources relevant to the topic of affordable housing. The list is updated regularly.
Petition to City Council, August 2018
Housing Justice is Racial Justice
Charlottesville’s affordable housing crisis is getting worse every day. We now have a shortage of over 3,300 affordable rentals, record high rents, and long-time residents getting priced out and pushed out of our community. This is not just an economic problem, it’s a racial justice problem: Black residents are being hit hardest of all. The situation isn’t new. It comes out of a history of racist “urban renewal” programs that bulldozed Black-owned homes and destroyed Black-owned businesses here in Charlottesville. Our city is on track to become a playground for millionaires and tourists, with almost no options left for lower-income people, the backbone of our economy. It doesn’t have to be this way. The city has done almost nothing to fix this problem for decades, but that can change. We call upon our government to take action immediately.
To Neighborhood Development Services (NDS):
STOP DELAYING! Show that you take these issues seriously by putting community-supported proposals promptly before City Council. The first priority is to fulfill plans for community-based peer-to-peer outreach focused on very low-income residents. Outreach should finish by November 30 and a Housing Strategy should be drafted no later than January 31, 2019. There should be no new Comp Plan until there is a comprehensive Housing Strategy.
To City Council:
- INVEST IN PUBLIC HOUSING! The city should include an ambitious bond issue in the 2019 budget to address the need for affordable housing, with an initial bond issuance of at least $50 million as a downpayment toward the total amount that the forthcoming Housing Strategy determines our community needs. This must be the top priority bond and should provide substantial funding for public housing redevelopment and modernization. Bond funds could also drive other ways to stop displacement and create more affordable housing. Money has slowed redevelopment down in the past and the city needs to get serious.
- Approve the NDS proposal for community-based peer-to-peer outreach and require a fast timeline for completing the Housing Strategy. Accountability is in your hands and delays need to stop.
- Expand community-based economic development. Affordable housing needs to go hand-in-hand with additional strategies to improve low-income people’s earnings and provide opportunities for home ownership.
We know that Charlottesville can rise to the challenges ahead. Our city has the power to solve its affordable housing crisis. We urge you to take this opportunity to steer Charlottesville toward a more just, equitable, and inclusive future.
Click here to sign the petition.
A Letter to the Planning Commission on behalf of The Charlottesville Low-Income Housing Coalition
The following letter was submitted to the Planning Commission on March 7, 2018:
Dear Ms. Green and Members of the City Planning Commission,
We are glad that the Planning Commission is making an effort to solicit community input on the upcoming 2018 Comprehensive Plan. Meaningful, participatory dialogue is required to create a plan that reflects the real needs of the community. However, we have significant concerns with the ability of any comprehensive plan to address the real issues affecting very low-income residents at this time. We would like to ask you to address the following issues:
1. A Housing Strategy is needed before the Comprehensive Plan moves forward. The strategy should be based on the real housing needs of our community, and the Comprehensive Plan must incorporate our community’s commitment to racial justice and truly affordable housing for very low-income people. The Housing Strategy needs to be responsive to community input, especially from the people most harmed by the affordable housing crisis. Until the city has a Housing Strategy to address our community’s affordable housing needs, any measures put into place by the Comprehensive Plan will be piecemeal at best.
2. Any changes to the Comprehensive Plan must take race into account. We have asked City Council several times for updated information about racial changes in city neighborhoods and have not even been given a timeline for when we will receive it. Please join us in calling upon NDS to provide this information. As we have shared before, between 2000-2012 there was a 12% decrease in Black families in the “Strategic Investment Area.” Data relating to changing demographics and racial diversity in each city neighborhood must shape all future planning decisions.
3. Zoning changes threaten to further increase displacement and decrease diversity. As we have asked before, if the city plans to move forward with a Form Based Code, please show us how it will not harm low-wealth people.
4. Changes to density and height restrictions must be structured to ensure the creation of truly affordable housing. Incentive structures like height bonuses have been proposed as one way to create additional affordable units. However, no real evidence has been offered showing that these incentives will be successful in creating units that will be affordable for very low income people. Any incentive program must be shaped by economic analysis of the housing market, and must be rooted in a formal Housing Strategy.
Housing justice will only be possible if the city formalizes a cohesive strategy on housing, addresses the real needs of the community, and listens to community members’ input. Please take action on these issues and help make Charlottesville a just community with opportunity for all.
Why Is Affordable Housing Important?
- The need for affordable housing in Charlottesville far exceeds the supply. The City of Charlottesville has an obligation to meet this need, and its residents have made clear that meeting this need is a priority to the community. Furthermore, Charlottesville is a city with plentiful resources that can be put towards addressing this need.
- Aggressive development in historically Black neighborhoods without accounting for the historical context of discrimination in decision-making is an attack on Black communities. The Black population in Charlottesville is rapidly decreasing as housing costs skyrocket in the city. We lost 12% of the black families from the Strategic Investment Area between 2000-2012. No recent data is yet available, although CLIHC has requested it several times.
- The City’s choice to target an area that includes four affordable housing developments, which make up a large portion of the city’s affordable housing, as a laboratory for a new form of zoning is alarming.
The Charlottesville Low-Income Housing Coalition is very concerned about Form-Based Code (“FBC”). FBC is a change to zoning that focuses on controlling the appearance of land first, instead of the use. One goal of a form-based code is to encourage “mixed-use” developments, which usually decreases the housing and increases retail use, because that’s more profitable for building owners.
The following document provides a brief overview on FBC and how it relates to affordable housing.