In recent years, both Albemarle and Charlottesville have increased the level of funding that goes to pay for initiatives to subsidize the cost of housing for households below certain income levels. Albemarle’s housing policy manager provided an update to the Board of Supervisors at their meeting on November 2.
“Looking at overall funding activity in [fiscal year] 2022 and [fiscal year] 2023, the Board has approved about $11.5 million in funding across many different funding streams,” said Dr. Stacy Pethia.
Pethia said those funds represent assistance for around 2,000 households or individuals with help manifesting in many forms including contributing to the preservation of existing housing as well as shelter for victims of domestic violence.
All of this stems from the adoption of Housing Albemarle in July 2021 as part of the Comprehensive Plan.
Around a third of that $11.5 comes from the Housing Fund Reserve and there were two additional requests before Supervisors on November 2.
“The first is from the Blue Ridge Coalition for the Homeless and that is in the amount of $200,000 and this is to support the continuation of emergency shelter services at Premier Circle,” Pethia said.
Premier Circle is a half-moon shaped road off of U.S. 29 that contains the former Red Carpet Inn. The Piedmont Housing Alliance bought the 3.7 acre property in March 2021 for a project involving Virginia Supportive Housing to eventually build a total of 140 units, 80 of which would provide support services to its residents.
During the pandemic, congregate shelters for the homeless were too dangerous and the existing motel has been used as an emergency option and operated by the group People and Congregations Engagement in Ministry (PACEM).
“Those individuals experiencing homelessness who have health issues that put them at high risk of complications due to any COVID-19 infection,” said Dr.Pethia. “This gave the the space to remain safely housed.”
Albemarle County has contributed $600,000 to the initiative so far. Virginia Supportive Housing hopes to break ground next spring, but until then, the plan is to keep using the former motel rooms until then. Both Albemarle and Charlottesville have been asked to contribute an additional $200,000 to cover January through April for the 84 residents who are currently there.
“Eighty-one of those residents have housing plans,” Pethia said. “In other words they have a plan to move them into permanent housing. Extending the shelter services through the end of April provides the time to move those individuals into their permanent homes.”
Supervisor Diantha McKeel asked for more information about what services will be provided to residents.
“Mainly it is housing focused case management is the best way to talk about it,” said Anthony Haro, the executive director of the Blue Ridge Coalition for the Homeless. “Main goal is to try to help people stabilize, provide basic needs, and connection to community resources whether that’s through primary health care, mental health care, connection to employment services, and financial literacy. It covers a whole range with the goal of helping someone transition out.”
Haro said various groups are searching for a permanent year-round shelter and options are being pursued. He said a stakeholder meeting will be held on December 2 to discuss funding but there are no specific sites identified just yet.
The second request was from Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville for $84,000 in matching funds for a U.S. Department of Housing and Development grant.
“It would help support the construction of four additional homeownership units,” Pethia said. “Two of those units would be built in the Lochlyn Hills community and an additional two units would be built in Old Trail.”
Supervisors approved both requests.
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