HAC members discuss housing plan implementation

Moving ahead now to a week later, when the Charlottesville Housing Advisory Committee met for what chair Phil d’Oronzio said would be a light agenda. The meeting was filled with information, however. Looking ahead to a week from today, outgoing Neighborhood Development Services Director Alex Ikefuna gave an update on the development of the Future Land Use Map and the Comprehensive Plan. 

“There is a work session scheduled with the Planning Commission on the 31st of this month,” Ikefuna said. “Subsequent after that work session there will be a meeting with the Steering Committee, and there may be some more changes based on the feedback from the Planning Commission on the 31st of this month.”

The material for that meeting is not yet available. You can register in advance, though. 

The City Council and Planning Comprehensive Plan will hold a joint meeting in October at which they are expected to make a recommendation to the elected officials. 

“We’re looking at completing all this before Christmas, and hopefully Council will get to take a shot on the adoption of the Comprehensive Plan at some time between November ending and Christmas,” Ikefuna said. 

After that, the Cville Plans Together initiative will turn to a rewrite of the zoning ordinance. In March, the Council adopted an affordable housing plan that influenced the development of the Future Land Use Map and will do the same with the zoning code. 

The HAC also got a brief update on the University of Vir ginia’s pledge to build up to 1,500 affordable homes on land that either it or its real estate foundation owns. The campaign kicked off a public input session in April, as I reported back then. UVa has hired Northern Real Estate Urban Ventures to conduct the work with principal Gina Merritt leading the initiative. Alice Raucher is the Architect at the University of Virginia.

“We have kicked off a listening tour with Gina with two goals,” Raucher said. “To perform the development principles that will guide the developer’s work and to understand where UVA’s initiative can fit in and be complementary to existing efforts in the city and the county.”

Raucher said they’ve listened to dozens of groups and individuals, and several themes are emerging. 

“There may be funding gaps even with Low Income Housing Tax Credits and we need to figure out what the University will do about that,” Raucher said. “We don’t have an answer just yet.”

Raucher said the consultant team has been doing due diligence on land owned by the University or its Foundation

“Our findings will be discussed internally and with the advisory group and more information will be shared publicly this fall,” Raucher said. 

UVA will contribute the land and a third party developer will actually build the units. More information can be seen on the project’s website.

As mentioned, the City Council adopted an affordable housing plan in March. Some next questions are how it will be implemented and how that implementation will be measured. A draft spreadsheet was discussed. (draft spreadsheet)

“The idea here is that this is a useful base of operations and as we build out and fill this out it’s going to produce the need for specific work product as we move forward,” said HAC Chair Phil d’Oronzio. 

The current draft is not an official tool but one governance recommendation is for the city to hire a housing coordinator to oversee all of the various initiatives underway. The spreadsheet assigns that goal to Sam Sanders, the new deputy city manager. 

Under funding recommendations, is this specific goal:

“Dedicate $10m per year to fund affordable housing to: 

1) increase the # of subsidized affordable homes by 1,100 homes (on top of an existing stock of 1,630 actively subsidized homes)

2) preserve 600 existing subsidized affordable homes

3) stabilize 1,800 to 2,200 owner and renter households facing housing instability

But, who should be tracking the information? As mentioned, the city has not had a housing coordinator for a year. The last person who had that role now runs the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority. The person before that now is Albemarle County’s housing coordinator.  Sam Sanders just started work, and Ikefuna’s replacement doesn’t start work until September. City Council has spent about $165,000 to create an inclusionary zoning program and to track funding spent through the existing Charlottesville Affordable Housing Fund. Who’s doing the tracking of implementation now?

HAC member Dan Rosenweig is also president and CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville. 

“In a really general sense boiled down I don’t know that we have many other options other than to jump in and support staff as our senior leadership team in the city rebuilds the infrastructure in City Hall, adds people at staff on the housing side,” Rosensweig said. 

Sanders welcomed assistance from members of the HAC, especially in terms of potential recommendations for next year’s budget. 

“Being perfectly honest with you and trying to remain a straight shooter that I promised to always be, if I had to timeline this, and have staff handle it, we probably would not have it done by the end of the year,” Sanders said. 

For the full story, watch the entire meeting, which is under an hour. Take advantage of these meetings being virtual while it lasts, because otherwise you’ll have to attend in person. (watch the video)

Before you go: The time to write and research of this article is covered by paid subscribers to Charlottesville Community Engagement. In fact, this particular installment comes from the August 24, 2021 edition of the program. To ensure this research can be sustained, please consider becoming a paid subscriber or contributing monthly through Patreon.

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