Osteen steps down from CRHA board; redevelopment updates

There’s a new vacancy on the Board of Commissioners for the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority. Michael Osteen has resigned in the midst of his second term. CRHA Chair Betsy Roettger read from a resolution last night

“And whereas his tenure on the CRHA Board, Mr. Osteen has worked diligently to represent the needs of CRHA residents and brought his expertise in design, building, and property management,” Roettger said. “And whereas Mr. Osteen’s commitment to a resident-centric approach to the management of CRHA demonstrates the fundamental values of true-asset based community leadership…”

Osteen also served on the Planning Commission from 2006 to 2014. City Council will need to appoint a vacancy. 

A frequent speaker at CRHA meetings noted that last night’s meeting is perhaps the last before groundbreaking takes place for the first new public housing units. Brandon Collins is on the staff at the Public Housing Association of Residents (PHAR) and wanted to note the occasion. He said many residents became frustrated in the early 2010’s after nothing happened following adoption of a master plan for public housing in the summer of 2010. 

“We all kind of got over that hump,” Collins said. “PHAR made an important realization which was that redevelopment was needed but it needed to be on residents term and PHAR needed to say yes to something, so we set out and we did the work for about a year putting together what we called the positive vision for redevelopment.” 

Collins said the vision calls for reparations for past wrongs by providing for resident self-determination. 

“And that’s something to work towards and it’s something that this housing authority has been bold in accepting the idea that the only way to make this work is through resident-led redevelopment,” Collins said. 

The CRHA Board got an update on redevelopment last night. Renovation of Crescent Halls and creation of new units at South First Street are the two plans that are moving forward. Kathleen Glenn-Matthews is director of operations at CRHA.

“After a really long day, we finally have closed on South First Street and we’re really excited that we’re going to be able to have a community meeting this Sunday,” Glenn-Matthews said. 

There’s no date set yet for ground-breaking at the first phase South First Street, but she said it may happen toward the end of the month once there is equipment on site. A virtual ceremony will be held due to COVID.

Glenn-Matthews said that redevelopment is moving forward despite a recent staff vacancy. Dave Norris has left his position as CRHA Redevelopment Director. There’s an application for the position on the CRHA website. In an email to me this morning, Norris confirmed his departure and said he continued working to help get the agency closer to ground-breaking. He also said he has been focusing time recently on the Sister City partnership between Charlottesville and Winneba, Ghana.  

You can learn more about the status of redevelopment in an update Glenn-Matthews posted. The CRHA has not closed the financing deal for the Crescent Halls project. 

The waiting list for the CRHA’s Mainstream Voucher Program will open back up on January 29, according to a blog post on their website

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