CHRA Director wants Crescent Halls reopened by August

On Monday, the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority’s Board of Directors voted to approve a $12 million budget for the fiscal year that begins tomorrow. They also learned that at least one revenue source for the current fiscal year is coming in much lower than had been anticipated. The CRHA had expected there would be some residents at Crescent Halls while it was renovated, but a flood last summer changed the plan.

“There was some knowledge as to what was going to happen but obviously with the flood it created a different wrinkle and deficit,” said Mary Lou Hoffman, CRHA’s finance director. 

The CRHA had budgeted $291,049 in yearly rent from Crescent Halls but only received $122,745. The building is currently unoccupied as crews work to renovate all apartments. 

CRHA Executive Director John Sales said the original plan had been to do to the renovation in stages and the budget had expected 70 units would be occupied at all times. 

“After that we emptied half the building and put them in hotels,” Sales said. 

However, Sales said insurance would not cover that expense long-term because the units that had been damaged were going to be renovated anyway. 

“Then we started having the conversation with the residents that were living in the building about the conditions of the building with half of the building being empty, the work that was going on on the other side with the walls being town down, applianced ripped out, and just the morale and how depressing it was living in a building with only four floors occupied and only half of those units occupied,” Sales said. 

Sales said some residents were moved to other public housing sites and others were given housing vouchers. The CRHA lost revenue not only from rent but from subsidies from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Sales said the project needs to be completed on time. 

“So I’ve been pushing the contractor that we’re not changing that August date,” Sales said. “We have to make that date work.”

Sales said the first phase of South Street also needs to come online on time in order to meet the revenues that HUD officials are expecting. The federal agency considers CRHA to be a troubled agency. 

When Crescent Halls does come back online, not all of the units will be considered public housing units by HUD. Sales said the units will remain affordable. 

“At Crescent Halls you’re going to have your traditional public housing units, but then you’re also going to have the project-based voucher units where they will be higher rents but they’ll be subsidized with the voucher,” Sales said.

Sales said under the vouchers, tenants would only have to pay thirty percent of their income toward rent.

“So we can charge $1,000 for a one-bedroom unit while not impacting what the resident that is living in that unit can actually afford because the voucher is going to subsidize their rent above their 30 percent,” Sales said. “So if they make $1,000, their rent is going to be $300. The voucher would cover the $700.”

For the public housing units, the CRHA can only charge what the tenant is able to pay. 

CRHA Board members also asked City Councilor Michael Payne to ask Council to waive the payment in lieu of tax that CRHA pays to the city each year. Payne said he would bring up the matter at tonight’s budget work session. 

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 March 31, 2022 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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